Dear Somm, how is a Rosé wine made? I see so many and their colors are so different. Why? – C. Watkins, Royal Oak, Michigan
This past summer, and now this fall, are times to experience the beauty of a good Rosé wine!
Firstly, a Rosé can be made from most any red grape. I have tasted Rosés from Nebbiolo, Syrah, Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Tempranillo, Merlot, etc. This last summer we released a Cabernet Rosé that was tasty. It’s all about the skin contact. The color in a red or Rosé wine come from the anthocyanin pigment in the red grape skins. The more skin contact with the juice results in more pigment. One method of Rosé winemaking is maceration which is the time of skin contact with the juice. The longer the maceration, the more color will be in the skins. With a red wine, during fermentation the maceration can be from 5-15 days. With Rosé wines the maceration can occur prior to fermentation called a cold soak. The skins stay in contact for 6-12 hours in a chilled tank so any native yeast does not kick-start fermentation. The pink juice is then pumped away from the skins and then fermented in another tank. A Rosé wine is typically fermented cooler (at 42-48 degrees) vs. red wines ferment hotter at 80-100 degrees. A cooler fermentation retains the delicate flavors in a white or Rosé wine. This method is popular in Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon regions. The other method is called Saigneé (Sawn-yay) which is based on the French word for “bleeding”. The winemaker will bleed off about 10% of the juice from the red skins during fermentation. The remaining 90% creates a more intense red wine. The 10% of the bled wine is fermented separately into a Rosé wine. Typically, this method will produce a Rosé wine that is darker pink than the maceration method. We do both methods at Wilson Creek. Maceration will yield a lighter wine with more perfumed aromatics and delicate flavors. Saigneé will produce wines that are richer and darker in color.
Mick Wilson is a Certified Sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers as well as a Certified Specialist of Wine with the Society of Wine Educators.
Drink Pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month
As you may know, October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Each of us knows a friend, sister, aunt, mother, daughter, or grandmother that has been affected by breast cancer. Wilson Creek Winery is joining the fight by donating a portion of the proceeds of each bottle of Rosé of Cabernet or Custom Labeled Rosé Sparkling Wine to an organization close to our hearts, Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center.
Michelle’s Place Cancer Resource Center was created as a dying wish of Michelle Watson. Michelle was a 26-year-old victim of breast cancer. As a Temecula resident, Michelle was frustrated with the lack of local resources available to her while facing the challenges of cancer treatment. Sadly, Michelle succumbed to her disease on July 23, 2000. In the wake of Michelle’s passing came a mission of service to make it easier for others touched by this unrelenting disease. Family, friends, and the community have come together and created a mission to serve the local community.