Welcome to the second half of “Hooray for Rosé.” In last month’s article, we discussed the definition of a rosé as well as the various color shades and sweetness levels in which they are found. Now, we are ready to delve into the methods of producing rosés.
It is important to note that very low-end bulk wine producers employ numerous blasphemous methods of production that are not allowed in standard quality wine production. These dastardly practices encompass wines of all types, including rosés, and are not covered by this article.
Quality rosés, even value-driven economical ones, are made with one of three very specific methods of production – Vin Gris, Saignée or Direct Pass.
Vin Gris is the most common approach. In it, the wines are made just like red wines (grapes are crushed, juice is fermented, wine is filtered to remove skins, wine is bottled) except that the juice spends significantly less time fermenting on the grape skins than the juice of red wines does. The fermentation for a rosé made in this manner can be as short as a few hours or as long as a few days.
The next avenue for making a rosé is called Saignée, which is the French word for “bleed.” This involves crushing the red grapes, allowing them to ferment for a few hours to a few days and then bleeding off a small portion to bottle as a rosé while leaving the remainder of the wine to continue fermenting to produce a quality red wine. Saignée is frowned upon by traditionalist winemakers as it positions the rosé as an afterthought to move some product to market for cash flow while waiting for a red wine to age.
Finally, there is the Direct Pass technique, which follows that the red grapes are crushed, pressed and the skins are removed immediately. The wine is then fermented and bottled the way a basic white wine would be produced.
Rosé is arguably the oldest type of wine made. It is produced around the world with a wide variety of quality grapes. It is protected by the same laws and restrictions that govern red and white wines in prestigious wine-making regions spanning the globe. Vintners are dedicated to perfecting their rosé wines just as they are their reds and whites and wine lovers everywhere are enjoying the results of those efforts.
So, if you shudder thinking about the White Zin craze and haven’t even glanced at a rosé since, please reconsider.
This is the season to try a light, fruity, fun, summer alternative to the usual lineup of bubblies and cocktails. You will be so glad you did, you’ll say Hooray for Rosé!