Rosé is having something of a moment. Less than a decade ago, serious wine lovers dismissed our jeweled pink friends. Today, with so many of us spending extended hours at home, we find that a bottle of Rosé pairs seamlessly with cocktail hour, an afternoon on the sofa, weekend brunches, and everything in between.
What Is Rosé Wine?
Made from red grapes, Rosé wines get their color from limited skin contact during the winemaking process. For anyone who has accidentally mixed reds and whites in the laundry, a similar principle applies.
The white grape juice absorbs some of the red skin color, called anthocyanins, while the winemaker crushes and presses the red grapes - et voilà! Pink wine. The longer the juice stays in contact with the skins, the darker the final wine in your glass.
How Is Rosé Wine Made?
Winemakers have different approaches to crafting Rosés. In the first method, direct press, the winemaker puts whole clusters of red grapes into a wine press and extracts the juice. These Rosés have the briefest of skin contact and result wines with a soft blush.
The second technique, the saignée (san-yay) method, meaning to bleed, starts with red grapes intended for a red wine. Here the winemaker crushes the grapes and waits for anywhere from a few hours to a few days as the juice absorbs the pink color from the skins before drawing off a portion of the juice destined to become your pink wine.
This second approach actually serves a dual purpose. The winemaker increases the juice-to-skin contact ratio for the main red wine. This creates a red wine with more concentrated aromatics and flavors. The winery also gets a second wine to market, our friendly Rosé. Two wines from one harvest. Not bad.
Best Rosé Wine.
The best Rosés are intentionally made to be pink. Red grapes destined for a Rosé are usually harvested earlier than the same red grapes intended for both a red and a Rosé.
Earlier harvesting helps maintain the wine’s natural acidity and produces the lighter, fresher fruit characteristics you would expect in your wine glass. These wines will be slightly lower in alcohol as well, which makes for good afternoon sipping.
What Does Rosé Wine Taste Like?
Winemakers who know their craft can sculpt Rosés that fulfill our seasonal yearning for a hint of Spring and Summer. The top Rosés should match appearance, aroma, and flavor profiles. Psychologically, we pair the wine’s color with a certain tasting experience.
Winemakers know this and will try to deliver through careful yeast selection, temperature controlled fermentation, and artful blending. A soft salmon wine will probably have floral notes, melon, or citrus, while a deeper punch-colored wine could be full of fresh strawberry or juicy watermelon.
Why Are We Drinking Rosé Right Now?
Well, not that anyone these days really needs an excuse to open a bottle of Rosé, but there are a couple of reasons to think about going pink.
Rosés will be the first wines released on the market from last year’s harvest. Wineries target Spring, knowing that we’ll be on the patio enjoying warmer temperatures. From the business side of the house, this is a critical time of year when wineries can boost their cash flow after the harvest bills come due: grapes, labor, electricity...Whew!
Winemaking can be an expensive proposition. With their red wines nicely bedded down for another 6-18 months, the Rosés help keep our wineries moving along through their operating cycle.
Rosés are delicious and functional.
One final word. Our winemaker friends craft Rosés to be enjoyed now. These are fresh, quaffable wines that do not need to be coaxed to maturity in your cellar. So, by all means, drink up!
Luckily, each year Gold Medal Wine Club selects 6 different Rosé wines for your drinking pleasure. These are all wonderful, dry Rosés that follow a different theme each year. Whether it's 6 different varietals, 6 different regions, all the same varietal, or even a tasting of the West Coast states, it's a package you don't want to miss out on!
See our Rosé Special 6-pack here.
Author Bio: Erin O’Reilly is a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators and a long-time lover of all things fermented grape. She pens her work from Monterey wine country where she raises a glass to the growers and producers crafting wines that transcend time.