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How rose wine is made?

We have already figured out how the production of white and red wine differs. I hope that you even managed to taste some excellent samples during this time. What’s about a rose wine? Yes, that rosé wine tastings are so popular in French Riviera and in Provence. Well, let’s get it started!

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Rose wine from rose grapes? Or it’s all about maceration

No! Rose wine is made from red grapes. The fact is that all the components responsible for the color of the berry are in the skin. When the skin is in contact with the juice (must), these components penetrate into the future wine and give it some color. This process is called maceration. Without maceration, we would not be able to get any red wine.

So the color of the wine  depends on the duration of maceration. If the contact of the skin and the must is long, we get saturated, intensely colored red wines. But what happens if the skin is left for a short period time? That’s right, so we get rosé wine!

You have probably noticed that on the shelf of your wine shop the shades of rose are very different from each other. Starting from almost colorless salmon and going to bright raspberry wines. The result depends on how long the skin of the grape berry has contacted with the must.

Maceration is a process of contacting the skin of a grape berry with a must to extract color, aromas, tannins.

Rose wine without maceration

Yes, such a production method also exists and is increasingly gaining popularity. Especially in Provence, in the south of France, which sets the trends for the whole modern world of rose wine.

How do we get such a wine? It is produced as white: grape harvest → destemming and crushing → press. With the help of the press, we extract the juice from the berries and separate the skin and seeds. But the press lasts for some time, an average of one and a half hour. So the skin has time to color the grape juice, not a lot, but still, it is not transparent. This way, we get faintly colored pale pink wines. Such are now almost all rose from Provence. Some even believe that the paler the wine, the more skilled a winemaker. This is not entirely true. But to produce wine in such a way as to extract a minimum of color, but at the same time to get a maximum of organoleptic characteristics (aromas + flavors), is really extremely difficult. It requires both the skills of the winemaker and the modern equipment at the winery. Since Provence is primarily associated with pink wines and is a trendsetter in this category, many regions around the world imitate this style of rose.

Bleeding? What does it have to do with wine production?

The “bleeding wine” is another way to produce rosé wines. Sounds scary, I know. But let’s try to understand these figurative French “Le vin de saignée”. The wine begins to be made like red: harvest → destemming and crushing → maceration, fermentation. But at some point during the maceration, part of the must is drained. This separated part already has a pink color. Nevertheless, since maceration has just begun, it is not saturated enough, as in red wine. This part will become a future pink wine. The rest is left to contact with the skin and red wine will be made from it. It will be quite saturated. Because huge amount of the skins with its coloring components remain in contact with smaller quantity of must. This way, Bordeaux clairets, wines from the Tavel region in the Rhone Valley are produced.

Rose, Blush, Rosato, Clarete, Rosado, Rosso – all these words on the label of your wine can mean “pink wine” in different languages and in different regions.

Can it be mixed?

Yes, in the Loire Valley or in Bandol, Provence subregion. They make rosé wines by mixing the rose obtained by maceration followed by the press and the rose obtained by the method of “bleeding”. It turns out as quite saturated, intensely colored rosé wines.

White + red = rose?

Perhaps it is the easiest way that comes to our minds, when we think about rose wine production. But! You cannot do it this way! It is better to remember that a rose is made from red grapes. Though! There are exceptions! And the biggest exception is one of the most famous wine regions of the world. I’m talking about Champagne! Yes, for the production of champagne it is allowed to mix wines obtained from red and white grapes.

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