Sip a delightfully pink rosé and your spirits are sure to soar. Light and fruity, rosé wines can be made still, semi-sparkling or sparkling; can be highly dry or sweet, and boast a number of shades of pink, from a hint of blush to a deep, almost purple hue. Made from a wide variety of grapes found all around the world, demand for rosé has exploded in the past few years. Here are seven things you might not know about rosé.
Rosé is likely the oldest known type of wine, likely because it’s so straightforward to make thanks to the skin contact method, the process of crushing black-skinned grapes then allowing the skins to remain in contact with the juice for a short period (typically two to twenty hours) then pressing the must and discarding the skin (rather than leaving them in contact throughout fermentation, as with red winemaking. The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the pink shade of rosé will appear. Many of the earliest red wines were closer in color to modern rosé since many early winemakers usually pressed soon after harvest.
To impart more tannin and color to red wine, winemakers implement the Saignée method, which calls for some of the pink juice from the must to be removed at an early stage. The red wine that remains in the vats is intensified as a result of the method, because the volume of juice in the must is reduced, and the must involved in the maceration thus becomes more concentrated. The pink juice that is removed can be fermented separately to produce rosé.
Rosé recent surge in popularity has inspired two new additions to the dictionary: men who drink rosé are now officially referred to as brosé. Slushy rosé, invented at New York’s Bar Primi, is known as frosé.
Leave it to the French to classify the colors of rosé. According to the Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence, rosés in Provence display one of the following fruit-inspired colors: cantaloupe, peach, grapefruit, mango, mandarin, peach or red currant.
Rosé Champagnes account for between 3-5% of Champagne’s yearly production. Many modern rosé Champagnes are produced as regular Champagnes with red Pinot noir wines added to the finished wine to “colorize” the cherished pink bubbly.
Interested in sipping the eye of the partridge? Tuscan winemakers are known to produce a sweet rosé version of the popular local dessert wine, Vin Santo, using red Sangiovese grapes known as Occhio di Pernice or “eye of the partridge”.
In 1972, California winemaker Bob Trinchero of Sutter Home transformed a stuck fermentation of his red Zinfandel wine into a rosé that he named “White Zinfandel”. The wine became so popular that it actually saved old vine Zinfandel plantings and became one of the best selling California wines of the 1980s.