The color of rosé ranges from light pink, pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the varietals used and winemaking techniques.
Rosé wines can be made still or sparkling and with a wide range of sweetness levels from bone-dry to sweet White Zinfandels and blushes. Rosé wines and can be found all around the globe.
When making rosé wine is the primary goal, it is produced with the skin contact method. Dark-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period, typically one to three days. The must is then pressed, and the skins are discarded not left to contact throughout fermentation. The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense red color of the final wine.
When the goal is to impart more tannin and color to a red wine, some of the pink juice from the must can be removed at an early stage. The red wine remaining in the vats is intensified as a result of this bleeding, because the volume of juice in the must is reduced, and the must involved in the maceration becomes more concentrated. The pink juice that is removed can be fermented separately to produce rosé.
In other parts of the world, blending, the simple mixing of red wine to a white to impart color, is uncommon. This method is discouraged in most wine growing regions, especially in France, where it is forbidden by law, except for Champagne. Even in Champagne, several high-end producers do not use this method but rather the saignée method.
Rosé Champagnes can range in color from pink to copper.
Rosé Champagnes account for between 3-5% of Champagne’s production each year. These Champagnes are distinct in that rosé Champagnes are often noticeably and intentionally colored, with hues that span from “pink” to “copper”.
This color traditionally comes from the very brief skin contact of the black grapes (Pinot noir and Pinot Meunier) during pressing that the Champagne producer decides not to remove by any decolorizing techniques. However, many modern rosé Champagnes are produced as regular Champagnes but are later “colored up” by adding red Pinot noir wines to the finished wine. According to wine expert Karen MacNeil, some Champagne producers believe this second method adds more richness and age-ability to the wine.
Rosé only occupies 1.5% of the total wine sales in the U.S., however it’s growing at an unprecedented rate. This growth is being driven by Millennials who love the pink color and the word “Rosé” is increasingly showing up in Social Media communications.
Dry = not sweet.
And that’s what you want: a wine that’s fresh and acidic, without extra sugar to bury its mineral/fruity/whatever flavors and aromas. Remember, it was super-sweet white zinfandel and its mass-produced brethren that gave rosé a bad name to begin with.
Since so many different kinds of rosé are being made all over the world, the dry vs. sweet question matters a lot more than a wine’s country of origin. But, if you’re feeling totally bewildered at the wine store, here’s a general rule of thumb:
OLD WORLD ROSÉ = MORE DRY
NEW WORLD ROSÉ = LESS DRY
There are tons of exceptions to this (some California and Washington State rosés can be super-subtle and bone-dry), but these simple rules can be a helpful way to narrow down your options at the wine store and not feel overwhelmed.
Calling wine “food-friendly” is an annoying cliché, but with rosé, it’s true. Rose wines are versatile because they fall in between red and white — less intense than a big, tannic, mouth-busting red, but with more depth than a super-light white.
That happy-medium flavor profile means you can always find one that plays nice with what you’re eating — grilled steak, fish, veggies, chicken, potato chips, chocolate, almost anything. Make sure you give your Rose wine time to chill before drinking.
It’s the perfect barbecue wine, the perfect sailing wine, and the perfect picnic wine, but it’s also the perfect wine for your office party or casual get together with good friens.