The Four Ways to Make Rosé
by Erin Henderson
Rosé season is here! But, if you’re anything like us, it never left. In our world, it's not rosé all day, it's rosé all year.
And certainly we're not alone. I remember a decade ago, there was a meager selection of only a handful of bottles. And even then, they were only stocked in the summer. When August came around, I would frantically load up on cases for the rest of the year knowing pink wines would not be seen again in Ontario until the warm weather returned.
My how times have changed.
I’m not sure who is on the rosé PR team, but I would love to chat with those brilliant minds. Somehow pink wine made a comeback. And it came back in a big, big way. Now fans are wearing T-shirts with slogans like " yes way, rosé!" Dudes began confidently sipping the blushing beauties because it was assured that “real men drink pink” so instead of Bud, crush a Brosé.
Wine historians believe rosé was the first style of wine ever made, with documented evidence in ancient Greece, followed by the Phocaeans spreading the pink popularity in the sixth century BC, bringing it to what is now Marseille in southern France.
In more recent history, the 1980’s catapulted the fruity, sweet White Zinfandel to soaring heights of popularity – crowning it the poster child for rosé everywhere. Well, what goes up, must come down, and crash rosé did. The festive frivolity of the 80’s fizzled out, and with it the merriment of many cultural benchmarks of celebration: Fuzzy Navel and Long Island Iced Tea cocktails, Chardonnay (we’ll talk about that another time), and of course, pink wine.
But as we said, rosé crept its way back into the collective conscious, and wine lovers began to realize that not all rosés are sweet. Some are, sure, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that. But most are dry, crisp, refreshing – and very food friendly. But not all rosés are created equally. In fact, there’s four ways to get a pink wine and we break them down here.
Most of the time, rosé wines are made by a process called maceration. This involves soaking the skins of the red grape in the clear juice (much like soaking a tea bag in hot water) to extract colour and flavour. Depending on the thickness of the grape skins, a few hours or a few days results some sort of shade of pink, a few days or weeks can achieve some sort of shade of red.
Direct press is very similar to maceration, but instead of giving the clear juice time to sit with the skins, the dark skins are removed right away, giving just a kiss of colour to the wine.
Exactly as it sounds, red and white wines are mixed together together for the finished product, a technique that's most popularly done in Champagne.
Saignée means “to bleed” in French. Basically, this is a process of syphoning off some off the early macerating red wine from the tank before it has had time to get deep in colour.
Fun fact: in Tavel, a wine region in Frane's Rhône Valley that solely makes rosé wine, saignée is the only production techinque allowed.