The secret is in the skin of the grapes. It is there that the anthocyanins are concentrated, which give the wine its colour. The flesh of the grapes contains water, sugars, acids and other components but in most cases is completely colourless.
That is why the color of the wine depends on the maceration process (contact of the grape juice with the skins). In the production of red wine, the skins and the grape juice remain together during the whole fermentation, during which the color and tannins are extracted from the grape skins.
For the rosé wines, however, this process is quite short. Depending on the grape variety used, the maceration time may vary. n addition to the choice of variety, the method used to make rosé is also important – by maceration or by the ‘Saignée’ method.
By short maceration
With this method, the grape juice and skins remain together for a period of 2 to 48 hours (significantly shorter than in the production of red wine). The duration determines the color saturation of the rosé and it solely down to the winemaker to terminate the maceration process. Here the whole amount of grape juice is used to make rosé.
Through Saignée method
In contrast to the pervious method, in this case the grape is intended to produce red wine and not rosé. . The grape paste remains at a temperature of about 15 ° С for a short time (from 4 to 24 hours). Once the desired colour is obtained about 10-20% of the grape must is drained, which is intended for making rosé wines
What remains in the vat is used to make red wine. The main goal in this case is to obtain red wine with a higher concentration and density.
This methods yields rose wines with a more intensive colour, more aroma, better structure, usually with lower acidity (as the grapes were intended to produce red wine).
Warning, this method is allowed only in Champagne for the making of sparkling rosé wines in the region. For example some well-known French sparkling rosé wines are made of Chardonnay, by adding a little bit of red Pinot Noir in the final phase of production.
Which are the nuances of rosé?
The colour of the rosé is determined by its shades as well as its intensity.
pink, salmon, onion, orange
I recently tasted two rosés in parallel from one region (South Sakar) but in two completely different styles and made by both methods.
The wine has a pale pink colour. The aroma is with medium intensive, with notes of red berries and minerality. A dry, light-bodied wine, nicely defined playful freshness and mineral medium finish. The alcohol level is 12%.
✍ Serving temperature: 7 – 10° С
This rosé is a more extreme example of the Saignée method rosés, as it has matured in used 500 litre Bulgarian barrels for 9 months. This adds an increased intensity and nuance to both the palette and the aroma. The wine has deep red tile hues. A complex and intense aroma notes of red berries, earth tones, tobacco, and mushrooms. These scents are complimented with herbs and strawberry compote on the palette. It has a full body, moderate freshness and excellent balance coming together in an unusual rosé, suitable to accompany food and ageing 2-4 years. The alcohol level is 14%.
✍ Serving temperature: 9 – 12° С
Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo of these wines in the glass for you to observe the difference in colour, but there is a whole video about this tasting on Instagram.
Share your views on your favoured rosés in the comments below.