Wine Culture and Information - Volume 12
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  Corkscrew Issue 24, November 2004   
Production of Rose WineProduction of Rose Wine  Contents 
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Production of Rose Wine

Often forgotten by consumers and considered as wines having no identity, rose wines are produced with specific techniques and have interesting qualities

 In case we have to tell an underrated and scarcely considered category of wines in the wine world, it would be the one of rose wines. These wines are usually not very considered by consumers and by wine people, as well as being victims of unjust prejudices with the result of losing their dignity and identity as a wine. The ones responsible for this condition are both consumers - who usually consider these wines neither whites nor reds, therefore not wines - and professional figures who work on wine business who usually forget about them or have no interest in selling them. One of the worst prejudices about rose wines and responsible for their bad reputation, is the conviction they are produced by blending white and red wines together. To tell the truth this conviction is the result of a deprecable habit of restaurateurs and producers who in the past, with no scruple - as well as with no intelligence - were used to blend whites and reds in order to create a terrible pink colored wine.

 We believe we should make things clear about this prejudice: the production of rose wines obtained by blending white and red wines is forbidden by law in all wine countries of the world. The only rose wines that can be made this way are the base wines used for the production of classic method sparkling wines, such as Champagne and Franciacorta. Rose wines are created by means of specific techniques and with the goal of producing a pink colored wine and therefore they should not be considered as lesser wines or wines that cannot be classified. The production of this type of wines is witnessed by the traditions of many wine areas in the world, where rose wine has always had its own dignity and its own meaning, such as French Provence, Apulia - renowned are roses from Salento - and Abruzzo with its Montepulciano d'Abruzzo Cerasuolo. Moreover it should be remembered rose classic method sparkling wines are highly appreciated among wine connoisseurs. If among sparkling wines roses are well accepted and appreciated, why should not it be the same for table wines? The scarce information certainly played a fundamental role in their low spreading and acceptance.


Rose wines offer very good possibilities
in food matching
Rose wines offer very good possibilities in food matching

 Nevertheless rose wines can offer a high versatility even in the table and allow extremely balanced and interesting enogastronomical matchings. Sometimes in matching a wine with a food, when a white wine is not enough and a red wine is simply too much, the answer is most of the times offered by rose wines. In this sense rose wines occupy a proper and definable position in the wine scene, a position which cannot be occupied neither by whites nor by reds, and therefore they have their own identity. It would be good that everyone would be capable of broadening the cognition of table wines and considering the possibilities among whites, roses and reds, not just between whites and reds. Rose wines represent a world of its own in every sense, from the way they are being produced to their organoleptic qualities. The production of rose wines begins as for red wines and continues as for white wines, a result which is expressed every time they are being poured in a glass: the color reminds red wines although they are being served as white wines.

 

The World of Rose Wines

 Rose wines, despite the fact they are not very common and appreciated, can be produced with different wine making techniques, each one giving results with distinct qualities, therefore the generic category of rose wines includes a group of wines produced with different techniques. All rose wines have a characteristic in common: they all are produced with red berried grapes. The only exception is represented by rose sparkling wines which are produced most of the cases - and only exception in enology - by blending white wines and red wines in variable quantities in order to obtain a rose wine. No matter this is the most common method for the production of rose sparkling wines, it should be remembered excellent results can be obtained by exclusively using red berried grapes, a techniques still used by few producers of rose Champagne with Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes.

 In theory any red berried grape can be used for the production of rose wines, however there are varieties which are more appropriate than others. The production of rose wines can be described - in general terms - as a process which begins as in red wines and continues as in white wines. The main difference between the production of white wines and red wines - and however not the only one - is that in reds the must is allowed to macerate in skins in order to extract color, whereas in whites this procedure is avoided. Grape's skin is rich in aromatic substances and in case of red berried grapes, it is also rich in colorant substances. The maceration of must in skins has also the purpose of extracting aromas - and color, in case of red grapes - which will enrich grape juice before proceeding with fermentation. The maceration also allows the extraction of other polyphenolic substances, commonly called tannins, responsible for astringency and body in wine.

 Rose wines have a different structure from red wines, are less astringent, have the crispness of white wines and an “intermediate” color between whites and reds. Color in rose wines - just like in red wines - is obtained by macerating the must in skins for a variable time from few hours to about two days. The time of maceration depends on the wine to be produced and to the coloring capacity of grapes. At the end of maceration, must is separated from skins and therefore the process continues as for white wines. The maceration of the must in skins is done in different ways each of them giving specific results. Rose wines are classified according to the production method and precisely: vin gris (grey wines), blush wines, wines of one night, wines of one day and saignée.


 

 Vin gris are not grey colored wines - as the name could suggest - but are wines with a very pale rose color. Grey wines are produced by using the same enological procedures as for white wines in which the only difference is represented by the usage of grapes having a very low colorant capacity, such as Cinsaut Rose, Cinsaut Gris and Cinsaut. This type of wine is produced by pressing the grape while avoiding the maceration of the must in skins, just like for white wines. This technique is used in some French areas by using Gamay grape in case it does not reach optimal ripeness in order to make a red wine. A similar technique is used in the United States of America for the production of the so called blush wines.

 Blush wines have become famous in the United States thanks to the White Zinfandel fashion, produced with Zinfandel grape, which is a red grape, by using the common wine making techniques used for white wines. After the success of White Zinfandel, other blush wines appeared in the market which were made of other varieties, of which the most famous ones are White Grenache, Cabernet Blanc, Merlot Blanc and Blanc de Pinot Noir. Blush wines usually have a demi-sec taste and are generally characterized by a slightly effervescence. It should also be remembered in California some wineries produce dry blush wines aged in cask and that are known as vin gris.

 Rose wines with more intense colors, almost tending to red, are produced by macerating the must in skins for variable times from few hours to some days. The duration of maceration essentially depends on the coloring capacity of grapes and on the type of rose wine to be made. In this way are produced the so called wines of one night and wines of one day. In case the maceration lasts for 6-12 hours, the rose wine is called wine of one night, whereas with a duration of about 24 hours it is called wine of one day. During the maceration it is essential to avoid fermentation, therefore sulfites are added to the must and the temperature kept low. At the end of maceration the must is being fermented and the vinification process continues as for white wines.

 A technique used for the production of rose wines is the so called saignée, commonly known as bleeding. This technique is generally used by wineries which produce red wines and by some Rose Champagne producers. The bleeding technique consists in drawing a certain quantity of must from the maceration tank in which it is being produced a red wine. The part of must drawn from the tank is vinified by using white wine procedures and therefore the result will be a rose wine. The remaining part of must continues its maceration and will used for the production of a red wine. In red wine production this technique is used to increase the proportion of aromatic and phenolic substances in the must with the result of obtaining a more concentrated and structured red wine.

 

From Must to Wine

 After having prepared the base must by using one of the method discussed above, the vinification process continues by following the common procedures used in white wines. Rose wines are generally fermented in inert containers, such as steel and concrete, rarely in wood containers, such as casks and barriques. The same considerations are valid for the aging and are pretty rare producers who decide to age their rose wines in cask for some months. Rose wines are generally ready within the springtime following harvest and it is best to drink them during their youth. At the end of the fermentation process and of aging, rose wines are stabilized and filtered, just like any other white wine, and therefore bottled and commercialized.

 Because of their low contents in polyphenols, as well as for their tendency to rapidly lose acidity, rose wines are not very suited for the aging in bottle and it is best to drink them within two years from harvest. With time rose wines tend to lose their best qualities in aromas and taste, as well as their pleasing aromas of fruits and flowers, therefore they are wines which should be consumed as soon as possible. This characteristic, which is also shared with most of the white wines, represents one of the factors considered as negative by consumers. Paradoxically the same happens for white wines - which in turn are more esteemed and have a higher reputation - and, just like for rose wines, offer in most of the cases their best qualities of freshness and agreeability during their youth.

 




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  Corkscrew Issue 24, November 2004   
Production of Rose WineProduction of Rose Wine  Contents 
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