There is no denying that the first sunny Spring day brings to mind patios, friends, and light 'sippers'. For those of us who enjoy a good bottle of wine, that sipper will often be a white or rosé wine. Today, I want to focus on rosé as it seems to have a short lifespan within our year, but it doesn't need to be like that. More and more producers are making complex rosé wines that can now arguably age and be paired with food items throughout the year.
How Rosé Wine Is Made
The most common way to make rosé wine is through skin contact. In this method, red grape skins are left in contact with the grape must for a short period of time. (Generally, less than 24-hours and that timing will vary based on the winemaker's desire for the intensity of the wine.) Grape skins are then removed, and the grape must is left to ferment on its own.
A second way to create a rosé wine is through a process called Saignée. This occurs when a winemaker wants to impart more tannin in their red wine. To do this, they will release some of the juice early, while still pink in colour. The released pink juice is then fermented into rosé wine on its own, and the remaining skin and must from the red wine will continue to ferment in a higher concentration state.
Though you will commonly see this wine labeled as rosé, in Spain you will see it as rosado, and in Italy, rosato. The variation in labeling is important to note, as we are seeing more and more producers create rosé wines from grapes not commonly used for this wine style and from areas not commonly acclaimed for making rosé. Today, it is not uncommon to see rosé made from the Italian Nebbiolo grape or Tempranillo in Spain, and things like Cabernet Franc in other areas.
Wine styles will vary from the super dry to slightly sweet to really sweet. Understanding the producer and, to a larger extent, how alcohol impacts the presence of sugar on the palate will help. If you like dryer styles of rosé wine, then you will want to stick to wines with a 12.5% ABV or greater.
What's important to take away about rosé wine is that it is being produced in varying ways today, using exciting grape varietals and stemming from differing terroirs. To find a rosé with incredible complexity is not as hard to do now as it once was. These new-age rosé wines are also the ones that can stand up to a few years of aging and an array of foods.
I encourage you to explore the expressions of rosé available today.