Rosé Winemaking: A Process That Is Familiar, Yet Different

There’s growing interest in rosé winemaking in India as the wine is gaining popularity among consumers. Its joyous colour and refreshing taste have made rosé a hit among all sorts of wine enthusiasts. From those who are at the start of their wine journey, eager to try different varieties so that they can refine their palate, to those who have extensively explored both red and white varieties of wine and want something different in their glass, everyone wants to get their hands on a bottle of rosé.

Another reason behind its growing fame is that like red and white wine, rosé is available at different price points and so, it has carved a niche for itself in both budget-driven and luxury wine markets.

Now that we know all about drinking Rosé, here’s a mini winemaking course for you

Rosé Winemaking is a complex process that varies slightly from the techniques used to make red and white wine. While the basic steps followed in the process are similar, winemakers use different techniques to achieve varying hues of pink in their rosé

Rosé Winemaking Using Maceration

The most common technique to make rosé is via maceration, in which winemakers let grape skins soak in the juice for a specific duration. While making red wine, the crushed mixture of grape skins, seeds and juice is left to ferment together for weeks or months, as a result of which the colour from the skins dyes the juice. 

But while making rosé, the grape skins are left in contact with the juice only for a few hours. The duration can range from six to 48 hours, depending on the colour that the winemaker is aiming for. The longer the grape skins are left in contact with the juice, the darker will be the colour. Similarly, for a lighter-coloured rose, the duration of exposure to grape skins will be shorter. Once the desired hue is achieved, the grape skins are separated and the juice is fermented.

Direct Pressing

This method is quite similar to the one listed above, however, here the grape skins are in contact with the juice for a very short duration. Once the grapes are pressed, the juice is separated from the skins immediately. The pigment from the grape skins still comes in contact with the juice and provides it with a very light hue. This method is used to produce lighter-coloured rosés that have a peachy or sandy hue.

Saignée Or “Bleeding” Method Of Rosé Winemaking

This process is an extension of red winemaking, in which some amount of juice is removed from the vat, leaving a higher concentration of grape skins in the tank than usual. The juice that has been removed is repurposed by winemakers to produce rosé, while the red wine that is made by the “bleeding” method is more intense. Rosé produced via this method is darker in colour and has a more pronounced flavour profile.

Winemakers use this method for two reasons- to avoid wastage of grape juice and to generate revenue as rosé wine needs just six months to get ready. So while the winemakers wait for their red wine to age, which takes anywhere from 12 to 24 months, they can have an additional income from selling rosé.

Blending Red And White Wines

While this might seem like the most obvious way to make a rosé, blending is frowned upon by the old-world winemakers (European regions). The only exception is a rosé sparkling wine made in the region of Champagne where a splash of red wine is added to white sparkling wine to get the desired hue. Since red wine has an intense colour, a very small quantity of it (around five percent of the total volume) is enough to achieve the desired effect.

The base for this type of Champagne is white wine. Once it is fermented and ready to be bottled, only then do winemakers blend in a small amount of red wine to get the desired hue. 

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