With the weather (finally!) starting to warm up around the country, we’re moving full steam ahead into picnic and patio season. I thought this would be the perfect time for a Wine Wednesday post devoted to summer’s favorite wine: rosé!
Rosé is a category of wine (like red or white) that can be made from an assortment of red-skinned grapes. Note that the grapes must have red skins, which is where the pink hue comes from. There are two ways to make rosé: bleeding or direct pressing.
Bleeding, the most widely used method, involves allowing the juice to macerate (soak) with the skins. This process is similar to how red wine is made, but the juice and the skins macerate for a much shorter time before being separated, which is why the color of rosé is pink rather than red. Depending on the color the winemaker is looking for, the maceration time can be anywhere from eight to 48 hours (as opposed to red wine which is generally macerated from between two to three weeks).
Direct pressing is a much less common method and is similar to how white wine is made. With the direct-pressing method, the grapes are pressed right away. However, unlike with white wine, when the pressing is performed quickly so that the skins don’t discolor the juice, the pressing for rosé wine is done slowly, to allow the skins to slightly tint the wine. Wines made with this method are sometimes referred to as vin gris (“gray wine”) for their light color.
Although technically it is possible to make rosé by simply blending white wine and red wine together, this practice is highly frowned upon, and in the European Union, it’s actually illegal (except in the Champagne region).
The most famous rosé wines come from France, specifically, Provence and the Loire Valley, with the region of Provence alone producing the majority of the country’s rosé. Provence was also the first place in the world to made rosé, although now the U.S. (Washington and California), as well as Italy, Spain, and Germany also make delicious bottles.
Because rosés can be made from several different grapes, their styles can vary considerably. But normally, rosés are light and fruity with notes of strawberry, raspberry, and roses. They’re tart, refreshing, and drinkable, perfect for a picnic or an afternoon on a sun-dappled patio. Common grapes used in rosés include Cabernet Franc, Gamay, Grenache, Pinot Noir, and Syrah. Rosés from Provence are usually a blend (in varying proportions) of Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre.
My personal favorite is rosés made from Grenache grapes, as I find that these rosés have a bit more “character” and “oomph” (<—– highly technical wine terms). Grenache rosés tend to have a medium body (compared with Cab Franc, Gamay, and Pinot Noir rosés, which are usually light-bodied) and have more savory notes. Grenache rosés also pair deliciously with food, making it a great happy hour or dinnertime option.
No matter what grape it’s made from, I think we can all agree that rosé is the official wine of summer. I hope you have some warm weather headed your way so you can enjoy a bottle or two!