Spring-time is a great time to start enjoying Rosé. It’s bright fruit flavors and wonderful acidity makes a nice chilled rosé very thirst quenching. And its bright pink hue just seems to go with all the beautiful blooms of the season. But, you may wonder how the color of this wine is achieved.
Rosé is made from red wine grapes. But, it's made in the traditional white wine making process. Hence, the process can be a bit confusing.
So, first, realize that all juice from wine grapes, whether from red grapes or white grape, is nearly clear. And, all the color in a finished wine comes from the skin of the grapes, not from the juice.
With that in mind, rosé wines are made in a couple different ways.
Maceration is the most common method used. The word 'Maceration' literally means to soften by soaking. And in the case of rosé production, it means to allow the grape skins to soak in the grape's juice. For rosé, the red wine grape skins spend limited time (2-24 hours) soaking with the juice. Just enough to give it its pink color.
The Saignèe ("San-yay") method allows the grapes to be crushed under their own weight and the 'free run' juice is collected. Since this juice spends such little time in contact with the red grape skins, the resulting color is light pink.
Regardless of the method used, rosés can be dry or sweet. Typically, rosés with alcohol levels around 8 or 9 percent are going to be quite sweet. In the 11 to 12 percent range, they will be mid-range between sweet and dry. And, above 12 percent it's going to be dry. So, check the label. The alcohol level must always be shown.
And, remember, with rosé wines they should be enjoyed young (within two years of its vintage) while they still have their bright fruit flavors and crisp acidity, and they should be served cold.