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How Rosé Wine is Made

A rosé is a rosé is a rosé, right? Not quite. Pink wines (called rosé, rosado or rosato, depending on where they’re made) span spectrums when it comes to both hue and taste. And one of the biggest influencers? How the wine is made. While standard production practices inform typical red and white winemaking, when it comes to rosés, two main methods pervade.

Meaning “to bleed” in French, the saignée method literally “bleeds,” or siphons off some of the grape juice during red wine production. This serves dual purposes—to have a pinkish-hued juice for fermenting into rosé (the less time the juice spends with the skins, the lighter the wine), and to further concentrate the resulting red wine thanks to an increase in the ratio of juice-to-skin contact. Among the newer school of rosé purists, this method is often criticized, as some consider the resulting rosé merely a byproduct of the desire to deeply concentrate the richness and tannins of specific red wines. Still, it’s a method in wide practice, and the resulting rosés can be delicious.

Direct Press
In this method of making rosé, red wine grapes are treated similarly to those used for producing white wines. Soon after the grapes are harvested, they’re pressed to separate the juice from the skins. The resulting juice drains from the press, and fermentation can begin. Because the contact between the grape “must” (or juice) and skins with the direct press method is minimal, the resulting rosés tend to have a paler pinkish hue than their saignée counterparts. Popular throughout France’s Provence region, the style continues to grow in popularity, thanks to the notion that it gives winemakers more control over the finished rosé, as vintners can opt to pick grapes at optimal sugar and acid levels specifically for making rosé and not red wine, as is the case with saignée.

Thirsty yet? Click here for a few of the bottles we’ll be cracking open this season.

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