How Is Rosé Made? #winequestions

Over the past four years we’ve been asked our fair share of #winequestions. Some of them very niche and specific, and some that seem to be playing on everybody’s lips.

In this week’s blog we’re debunking the myths surrounding how rosé is made.

Isn’t it just a red and a white mixed together?

Even though this is how pink Champagne is made it’s not necessarily the case for it’s still counterparts. It sounds like the most logical idea but for a large amount of wineries in Europe it’s actually illegal.

In the EU only wines with PDO status can make rosé by blending, table wines must be made by another, more traditional method.

Despite being allowed to make their rose that way however, most still stick with the more traditional methods. This is partly because the rules for their specific appellation may forbid it, and partly down to the heavy sense of tradition in old world wine-making.

What are the other methods?

The colour in wine comes primarily from the skin of the grape. With white wine the grapes are pressed and racked off the skins almost immediately.

With red wine, however, the skins are left in the grape juice for weeks or sometimes months to extract the colour. It’s the same with rosé.

Rosé wine is created using black grapes (even pinot gris/pinot grigio skins are blue). The grapes are pressed and the skins are usually left to macerate.

This can be for anywhere between 6 and 48 hours depending on how much colour the winemaker wants to extract.

Sometimes the act of pressing the grapes itself extracts enough colour. This is often the case for the lightest rosés.

What about White Zinfandel?

The final method is called “bleeding” or “Saignée”. This is the practice of making a red wine, but racking some of the juice off early to get a higher concentration of colour and flavour from the skins in the remaining wine.

This is reportedly how Sutter Home made the original White Zinfandel. They bled some wine off to make their red zinfandel more concentrated and fermented the pink run off to make a rosé.

The problem arose when they got a stuck fermentation and the wine only fermented to 10% abv. The result? A sweet rosé that proved incredibly successful.

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