How is rosé wine produced?
Rosé wine has certainly gained a lot of popularity in recent times. There are more and more wineries coming up with their versions of this versatile and pleasant wine. In fact, there are different ways of making it and, of course, the results can vary a lot.
Of the several ways there are, let’s explore the most common ones, but first let’s understand all the issues involved.
The colour is the result of how long the skins of a red grape variety stay in contact with the liquid part of the must. This is known as the maceration process. Wine makers can simply decide for a different maceration time to obtain a different depth of colour. The skins of grapes are also where 95% of aroma and taste come from. Thus, a richer colour will typically coincide also with a greater intensity of aroma and taste, making a similar wine more suitable for accompanying food. Wine, of course, is not just colour, aroma and taste. Body also plays an important role and alcohol is therefore a critical issue. Last, but not least, balance is of the utmost importance. To create balance, acidity will also be something that winemakers need to consider with attention.
There is another method commonly used to make a rosé wine. It is to simply start making a red wine with perfectly ripened red grapes, sometime also blended with some white varieties, but cutting the maceration short by separating the skins from the liquid at an early stage – this could be after just a couple of hours or after a whole day – and then continuing with a vinification process like for a white wine.
In another instance, the grapes used for producing a rosé are picked some days before they reach full maturation and again using a quick maceration process. In this case the resulting wine will be lighter in body, as the lower sugar concentration of not fully ripened grapes will give a lower concentration of alcohol. Not only, the acidity level will be higher, and this will give the wine an even fresher character. This approach to making a rosé is often preferred to make a wine that is best enjoyed as an aperitive, rather than to accompany a meal.
The third most common way of making a rosé is to “bleed” part of the liquid of a red wine must after a short time of maceration, transferring this liquid in a different container to complete the fermentation process. This last method is often used also to gain concentration in the red wine, as by removing part of the liquid means to increase the amount of solid parts in the initial container where the aim is usually to obtain a full body red, and at the same time ending up with a rosé that will usually have a fairly important alcohol level and therefore very good also with food. Quite often, rosé wines made with this “bleeding” method are a perfect substitute for red wine in summer when we are dealing with a dish that would normally call for red wine pairing, but the climate is so hot that even the idea of drinking a red wine sounds too heavy. In this case, such a rosé will come to the rescue, offering a suitable structure with a fresher and lighter character.
Central Tuscany is famous for red wine, so it is no surprise that most farms grow only red varieties, especially since the beginning of the Millennium, when the historical recipe for Chianti wine was modified by removing the possibility of including a small percentage of local white varieties in the blend. Climate though is changing, and our summers have been getting warmer, so many local producers have chosen to expand their range of wines to include something lighter and fresher by using the red varieties and make a rosé and thus responding to the increasing demand for this type of wine.
Many of the wineries we visit with our tours make a rosé, mostly using the typical local variety: Sangiovese. Each one though is different, and trying them all is not only fascinating, but also extremely fun and pleasant!