Like red wines, rosés are made from red grapes. But whereas red wines are made by allowing the juice and skins to commingle during fermentation, rosé producers allow only a limited period of skin contact before separating the pink-tinted juice from the grape skins and then beginning fermentation. The pigment and tannins in the skins give the dry rosé its colour, aroma, and character. Rosé is a blended wine, and Provençal winemakers make rosé by producing single-variety rosés in individual vats, and then carefully assembling the final wine from these batches.
Extraction of colour and aroma
Once the grapes have been harvested and destemmed, they are then crushed, freeing up the pulp, skin, seeds and juices, which are collectively known as the ‘must’. The must is then left to macerate in vats, with the skins, for periods ranging from 2 to 20 hours at temperatures between 10 and 20°C. This method requires perfect timing, as contact between the skins and juice must be long enough for the pigments to turn the juice the right shade of pink, but must not be so long that the tannins also contained in the skins overwhelm the wine. When the desired colour saturation is achieved, the juice is removed from the skins and allowed to ferment at a low temperature of 18 to 20°C.
Following harvest, direct pressure is applied to full bunches of grapes, and the clear juice is then fermented immediately. In this method the juice and skins are in contact for only a brief period, which results in paler rosés.