Rosé wine has long suffered the consequences of the preconceived ideas that circulate about it. Among them, the rumor claiming that rosé wine was a mixture of red wine and white wine has long classified it as poor quality wine. Today, let's lift the veil on the making of rosé wine , and put an end to these rumors which undermine the expert work of winegrowers.
The making of rosé wine: winemaking much more complex than it seems
It must be recognized that blending red wine and white wine seems to be within everyone's reach, and this explains the poor image that rosé wine can have. However, the technique of making rosé wine is much more complex, and winegrowers use two very distinct methods to obtain its fruity aromas and this delicate color.
Pressing rosé wine
The production of rosé wine by direct pressing is a technique close to the vinification of white wines. It consists of pressing the grapes immediately after the harvest and destemming (separating the berries from the stalks). Slow but direct pressing thus limits the contact of the pigments of the grape skin with the juice, which gives clear rosé wines .
The juice obtained is then placed in vats, for alcoholic fermentation which lasts on average between 10 and 14 days.
The pressed rosé wines have a pretty pale color, lots of freshness, and delicious fruit aromas.
The rosé wine of saignée
Saignée rosé wine is obtained using the red wine vinification technique. After harvest, destemming and crushing, the grape skin is then left in contact with the grape juice during the maceration stage. This process is then stopped after a few hours, where the winemaker is responsible for taking part of the juice from the bottom of the vat.
The juice taken is placed in another tank to carry out alcoholic fermentation, while the rest of the first tank continues its maceration with a view to making red wine.
Saignée rosé wines then have a more intense color and are more powerful and structured.
Why is rosé wine not a mixture of red wine and white wine?
Newbies might wonder if it wouldn't be simpler to mix white and red to make rosé . Although the technique would make life easier for many winegrowers, it would not yet make it possible to obtain this delicious result.
But if winegrowers do not practice blending red and white , it is mainly because it is forbidden!
Since 2009, the European Commission has banned the mixing of white wine and red wine for “rosé” appellation wines in France and Europe. The only exception: Champagne, which can combine red and white to make rosé champagne.
The different colors of rosé wine
As you will have understood, the color of rosé wine comes from the pigments contained in the skin of the black grape varieties, which are transferred into the colorless juice during the winemaking process. Thus, the intensity of the color of a rosé wine depends on the contact time between the skin and the juice.
The longer the maceration time, the more intense the pigments and aromas. Conversely, a short contact period produces pale and less structured rosé wines.
We can thus obtain a multitude of shades of pink, ranging from salmon to raspberry, from rose petal to onion skin. Oenologists have identified more than a hundred colors of rosé wine .
The main grape varieties of rosé wine
To ensure a pretty pink color to the wine , the winemaker uses different black grape varieties from several wine-growing regions. We can then classify rosé wine grape varieties into 2 main groups: the North-East and the South-East.
The main rosé wine grape varieties of the South-East
The black grape varieties of the South-East are mainly used to make rosé wine from Provence, or sun-drenched wines.
- Cinsault : this black grape variety resists drought and offers high quality rosé wines ;
- Syrah : this black grape variety from Côtes-du-Rhône offers wines with notes of spices and black fruits ;
- Mourvèdre : this sunny grape variety brings aromas of violet, ripe fruit and spices to the wines;
- Carignan : this low-yielding grape variety nevertheless produces intense and structured rosé wines, with strong aromas of spices.
The main grape varieties of the Northeast
In the northern part of France, rosé wines are made from grape varieties that are more resistant to cold.
- Pinot noir : renowned in Alsace and Lorraine, this grape variety is also found in Burgundy or the Jura, and produces wines with lovely aromatic complexity;
- Gamay : this ancient grape variety produces fruity , fresh and delicious rosé wines.
Good to know: rosé wine can also be made from a blend of white grape varieties and black grape varieties vinified together.
The quality of a rosé wine reveals all the know-how of the winemaker and the richness of a terroir. The Berne estate is therefore proud to offer exceptional rosé wines from Provence which perfectly reflect the Provençal tradition.