The refreshing rosé wine taste on a hot summer’s day is something many of us look forward to. Over the last decade or so, this pink delight has become one of the most popular types for wine lovers around the world. But you may be asking yourself, what grape is rose wine made from?
Even if you do not drink rosé wine, you have probably seen it in most bars and restaurants as well as becoming a social media phenomenon. This attractive party drink not only tastes divine but its pinky hue gives it an elegant glamor. As rosé wine has become more popular, winemakers far and wide have decided to produce this pink wine alongside their white and red varieties. However, many people are still in the dark as to how rose wine is made and what grapes are used in its production process.
There are some misconceptions about this wine. One is that it is always very sweet. However, you can enjoy a dry rose as well and it is not as new as you might think. Rosé wine has been around for a long time but has only peaked in popularity over the last few years. The first thing winemakers need to know is what grapes are used to make rosé wine. Well, many types of grapes are used to create the unique taste and appearance of rosé wine. To find out more about what grapes are used, continue reading as we discuss all things rosé wine.
What is Rosé Wine?
Rosé wine is not made from a specific type of grape. It simply refers to a genre of wine such as red and white wines. Although rosé wine is produced in a similar way to red wines, its fermentation period involving the grape skins is much shorter. This reduced skin contact is what results in the signature pink hue.
Rosé wine can be cultivated in any wine region and from any red grape. It may have become popular in recent times throughout the U.S. but the French have been enjoying this blush wine for centuries. The region of Provence in France produces more rosé wine than anywhere else in the world but Spain and Italy are also mass producers of rosé wine.
Rosé wine is typically a blend. This means it can be made from a variety of different grapes. However, the most common rose wine grapes used in red winemaking are also used to produce rose wine. These include:
- Pinot noir
Sometimes, a single varietal can be made with just one type of grape. This is common in California where rose wines are single varietal and made using just pinot noir grapes. Rosé wines can be either sweet or dry but the majority are dry. European rose wines tend to be very dry while those made in the New World (outside of Europe) tend to be sweeter and much fruitier. The rosé grape type has the biggest determining factor on whether the wine will be dry or sweet as well as the climate and production methods used to make the wine.
Dry rosé wines are typically made from the following grape varietals:
- Pinot Noir
How is Rosé Wine Made?
When made using a traditional method, this blush wine follows a process similar to the production of red and white wine. Rose wine adopts the same fermentation process as red wine but is fermented at the same temperature as white wine. Although some winemakers have been known to blend red and white wines together to create the iconic pink hue or rose wine, this is prohibited in many regions. In order to achieve the pink hue, grapes are crushed and the liquid that emanates from the fruit becomes clear. The leftover grape skin is what gives rose wine its famous pink color.
The clear juice and grape skins entwine and the skin’s color bleeds into the juice. This is known as maceration in winemaking circles. Winemakers only macerate rose wine for a few hours or up to one day. When the winemakers are happy with the juice’s blush hue, the skin is removed and the juice is then fermented. Rosé wine does not come with a universal pink hue. One rose wine may have a darker pink color than the next. This is because of varying maceration processes. While many believe the pinkness is formed because of mixing red and white wine together, this is very uncommon.
Rosé wine is almost always made from black grapes. The only exception is rose champagne which is made using chardonnay in its blend.
Choosing the grapes is the first step to producing rosé. Black grapes are harvested from a vineyard where many different varieties of grapes will be grown. Most of the grapes are intended for red wine but a small portion of these grapes are allocated for the production of pink rose wine. These grapes are then crushed into a juice. This is either done by a specialized machine or in the most traditional way of using your feet and hands. Some smaller wineries crush the fruit with their bare feet. This is known as grape stomping or foot trodding and is a technique that has been used for centuries.
Next is the fermentation process. This is when the grapes are turned into alcohol. The grape juice is typically placed into a stainless steel fermentation tank before yeast is added to convert the fruit sugar into carbon dioxide and alcohol. As with red winemaking, the skins of the grapes are left on during this process to ensure the flavors, color, and tannins are delivered into the wine. While this method is the most commonly used, there is another process that adopts different steps. This is known as the Saignee method. This is when the grapes are left to sit in a vat for one to two days. They are then filtered.
This means the skins are not present when the juice is transferred into the fermentation tank. Therefore, the tannins and colors are imparted into the wine’s blend before the fermentation rather than after. After fermentation, the wine is pressed. This is done to remove all traces of the grape skins from the final blend. However, this is not part of the Saignee process. This is when winemakers will see their pale pink rose wine for the first time due to being in contact with the grape skins for a short period of time.
Rose wine is almost exclusively made from the same type of grapes that red wines are made from. These grapes have a light, usually colorless juice. However, the blue and red pigments from the grape skins help rose wine achieve its famous pink hue.