A Rosé by Any Other Name…The creation and enjoyment of pink wine
Almost every year, our favorite pink drink, rosé, gets more attention than it did the year before. This wine sure is a delight to the palate, but how is rosé made?
All pink wine is produced from the inclusion of at least some red grapes, and most importantly red grape skins. Even red grapes press clear juice. However, grape skins contain colorful pigments, and when red skins are left in contact with clear juice they slowly leach color into the wine, making it pink. The process of making rosé is much like making tea—the longer the grape skins are allowed to macerate, the darker the color of the wine becomes.
While the popularity of dry pink wine has soared through the cellar ceiling in the past five years, rosé is in fact an old idea. Even the ancient Greeks produced pink wines—a blend of both red and white grapes—often diluted with water. Here are three approaches.
Maceration // These grapes are grown with the intention of producing rosé, and often harvested a bit earlier to retain freshness and acidity. Red grape skins are floated atop a vat of clear juice until the optimum flavor and color are reached.
Saignée // From the French term meaning “to bleed,” in this process, a portion of pink juice is “bled” from the vault during the production of red wine. This process serves to concentrate the red wine. The pleasant byproduct is rosé.
Blending // Introducing a small amount of red wine into white wine to produce rosé. This method is generally not considered to be a quality-minded approach, with one very notable exception: Champagne!
Are the wines sweet? Almost certainly not. Nearly all of the wines are verifiably dry. That said, while it might seem natural to steer away from darker rosés, these wines should not be overlooked as they’re most often dry, and packed with delicious earthy flavors and soul. The very best examples of rosé have the uncanny ability to express a sense of place (terroir), to age, and to improve with a few years of bottle age. Here are a few favorites.
2018 Chateau Peyrassol “Commanderie de Peyrassol”—Grenache, Syrah, and Cinsault. An utterly classic take on Provençal pink. Citrus. Flowers. Fresh herbs.
2018 Von Winning Spatburgunder Rosé—A special gem from the German Pfalz—this is dry Pinot Noir rosé made with minerality, zip, and a dollop of thirst-quenching red fruit.
2018 Thibaud Boudignon Rosé de Anjou This kid makes stellar rosé. A blend of Cabernet Franc and Grolleau. Uttlerly complex including flavors of mountain flowers, white citrus, peach, and crushed seashells. Boudignon may well be a contender for Rosé of the Year.
2018 Liquid Farm Rosé A rosé that is always singing—like great Bandol rosé, which also leans on the Mourvèdre grape—this rendition of Provence pink has a bit more concentration and weight than your average pink wine, showing a distinct whisper of salinity among crisp white citrus and cherry. Also quite limited.
Besides that the fact that they’re all pink—these rosés have one thing in common: they’re true, artisanal, quality wines. Produced using top-notch farming and winemaking—which allows them to reflect the place that they come from.