Rosé wine is produced from red grapes, but in a white wine production way. What does this mean? That what distinguishes this type of wine is mainly the decision made by the winemaker when the red grapes arrive at the cellar. But before discovering the various types of rosé wines that exist, find out how these wines came about.
The origin of rosé is perpetually linked to the origin of wine production in Europe. In 600 BC, a group of Greek traders left the city of Foça (carrying wine in their luggage!) In search of better land to settle on. When they arrived in the region of Provence - specifically the bay of Marseille - they decided to settle there and started importing vines to produce wine, which they then did in the most basic way possible.
They crushed the grapes to obtain their juice and let it ferment. It was in this way, from this process, that they produced “claret” wines, later called by the Romans “Vinum Clarum”.
Rosé wines were born from this way of production, which is still used today, although with two differences: the grapes used in the production of rosé wines are only red grapes (with the exception of rosé wines from the region of Champagne) and now we take advantage of technology, which naturally changed a lot.
Process in which the red grapes are immediately crushed (pressed) when they arrive the winery to obtain the juice or must as pale as possible. Since the color of the grapes is on the skin, the contact time between the pulp and the skin determines the intensity of the color of the rosé wine.
Process in which the red grapes, before being pressed, spend first a few hours in a deposit where the juice or must is in contact with the skins. Only after this time has elapsed are the grapes pressed or crushed and the must is obtained with a more or less intense color, depending on the time of maceration or tanning.
Process in which in the rosé wine is a by-product of red wine, as the first juice or must that drains during the first hours of maceration (tanning) of the red wine is removed. The bleeding (saigné) is done from the deposit where the red grapes are and this practice aims to concentrate the color, structure and flavor of the red wine.
Depending on the different ways of producing rosé wine, there are also countless variations within these. Simply put, we can fit rosé wines into three large families where color variation in its different intensities is of paramount importance.
Dry rosé wine, which can fit into the fruity and light rosé wine category, is characterized by its citrus and crunchy red fruit aromas, the fresh feeling it leaves and its simple structure. They are usually consumed young and are pale pink in color. We have the best example of this style of dry rosé wine, those from the French Provence region. In Portugal the best examples of dry rosé wine come from the coolest regions, be they maritime - such as the Lisbon region or the Vinho Verde region - or mountain regions with altitudes above 500 meters, such as the Douro or Beira Interior.
Soft rosé wine, which can fall into the category of fruity, medium-bodied rosé wine, is characterized by normally having a more intense color and a medium body, with a rich nose, dominated by riper fruit aromas. They are tasty wines and accessible to everyone. They are normally consumed young and salmon pink in color. A good example is the rosé wines from the Navarra region in Spain. In Portugal the best examples of soft rosé wine come from the warmer regions, such as the Tejo and Alentejo, but also from regions with milder maritime influence, such as the regions of the Peninsula de Setúbal and the Algarve.
Sweet rosé wine, which can fall into the category of fruity and sweet rosé wine, is characterized by normally having a residual sugar content and is generally semi-dry or semi-sweet. They are wines characterized by notes of ripe fruits, they are very soft and the color and intensity can vary a lot, from salmon pink to ruby pink.
Sweet rosé wine is left with residual sugar when fermentation is not allowed to end and the sugars in the juice or must are not completely fermented or by the addition of unfermented juice or grape must. There are examples of sweet rosé wine from all over the world, the best known being Portugal’s Mateus Rosé or the White Zinfandel produced by the great wineries in the United States of America.
Each wine has its own personality and rosé wine has its own magic that conquers more and more oenophiles and lovers. If you do not usually choose these wines, the next time you are asked ‘White or red?’ Try answering ‘Rosé Wine!’ and let yourself be surprised.