Rosé wines have a mixed reputation, shall we say. For the most part, they are under-appreciated, but to the enthusiast they have no substitute. Wine drinkers who consider themselves "red wine drinkers" or "white wine drinkers" fall easily into a sort of arrogance about their preferred wine style. While you are of course completely entitled to your preferences, there are situations in which your "enemy" wine will turn out to be the preferred choice... ...yes even for you. You just have to give it a chance once in a while, and you'll see. If you are a doubter, your entry point into the world of Rosé is to chill one down on a hot humid day, and enjoy it outdoors. There are few nicer drinking experiences, especially if the wine is of good quality. ...And that is always the key isn't it. So let's briefly look into what makes a quality Rosé wine.
|Gentlemen Evaluating a Fine Rosé|
Rosé is made basically in three different ways:
1. By blending white wine with red wine. This is not often done, and is scoffed at by most of the serious wine world. Some of the least expensive Rosé wines may be made this way. Frankly, it should not be taken seriously, and should not be the expected method of production.
2. The "Saignée" (pron: 'seng-yay') method, where red grapes are crushed in the traditional manner as if you were making red wine, and the skins and seeds are allowed to sit in the juice for 8-16 hours instead of days to weeks. The partially colored juice is drawn off, and the pink liquid is fermented using all the techniques used for making white wine. By the way, Saignée means "to bleed" in English, but that doesn't sound as appetizing does it.
|Red Grape Skins & Juice: It's Either Got to be||Drawn off Now, or It's Going to Be Red Wine|
3. The "Press" method, where red grapes are slowly and gently pressed to avoid breaking any stems, seeds, or ripping the skins. The juice that flows out is left to sit for only a few hours so that it is delicately tinted, and then drawn off to be fermented as if it were white wine. Ironically, the Press method is usually used to extract the final, most concentrated portion of the juice from grapes for red wine, but in this case the press is used for the purpose of being gentle with the grapes.
Method #3 was pioneered and perfected in the region of Provence in southern France. They have been making Rosé wines there for over 1000 years, and it is there while on vacation that my wife and I first discovered the joys of a nice Rosé on a hot summer day. We've been hooked ever since.
Try a glass of Rosé the next time you grill some salmon, or bring cold cut sandwiches to a picnic, or top off a salad with some grilled tuna. So long as you can keep the wine cool you'll be rewarded with yet another great slice of what wine has to offer.
Next time: How to buy a Rosé
-- Marc Soucy, FWS CSW