ALL ABOUT ROSÉ
Once considered a trend, this popular style of wine is complex, versatile and pleasing to the palates of almost all who try it. Served chilled, it works alongside a multitude of dishes. The color ranges in hues of palest pink to deepest salmon where the choice of grape variety along with the production technique plays a significant role in determining the final wine style.
Rosé is believed to be the oldest wine ever produced. Reflecting back to the early history of wine, red wines were viewed as lesser in quality. It took time for individual palates to get comfortable with the bold, rich, and textured tannins of deep red wines. As a result, Rosé was the wine of choice.
Wine trends come and go but one thing is for certain, Rosé is here to stay. Rosé’s versatility means it’s not difficult to please the palates of both white and red wine drinkers alike. For those who sip mostly white wines, Rosé offers a light, crisp, and refreshing alternative. For those who gravitate toward red wine styles, it satisfies them as well, expressing fresh red berry fruit notes that stay within the flavor palate of other red wines. Pairing Rosé with food is also a breeze! The tangy acidity and red berry fruit characteristics compliment rather than compete with most dishes. The pairing choices are abundant from thick-cut potato chips to oysters on the half shell or roasted chicken with capers.
Selecting the grape variety/varieties to use in crafting a Rosé is often dependent on the growing region. In many Old World wine growing regions there are laws based on which varieties are acceptable to use. For example, in southern France the Tavel AOC appellation in the Rhone Valley is dedicated solely to producing Rosé wines, which can include twelve principal grape varieties, but the final blend must include Grenache Noir. In New World regions such as Washington the restrictions are not as limiting. Here, varietal choice can be based on the best varieties available or the signature profile of the winery.
Choosing which wine production technique to employ is a decision made by the winemaker. The two most common ways to produce a Rosé are Saignée and direct pressing. The latter comes with an intention from the start to produce a Rosé. This method creates wines more delicate in flavor and lighter in color. The red grapes are gently pressed and left in contact with their skins just long enough to create the desired color. The wine is then fermented at cool temperatures typically in stainless steel in order to retain the primary fruit aromas. The Saignée method which translates to “bleeding off” is a technique used to make red wines more intense and saturated in color. Here a portion of the juice will be bled off, leaving less juice in contact with the grape skins which will intensify the red wine that is being crafted. The bled off juice will then go through its own fermentation and become a Rosé.
Our Columbia Winery 2020 Syrah Rosé was made by the direct pressing method as its pale pink color indicates. The Provence-inspired wine is medium-light bodied, dry and bursting with notes of strawberries, ruby red grapefruit, watermelon, and orange blossom.
Cheers and enjoy!
- Shelly Fitzgerald, Wine Education Specialist, CS, CSW, AWE, WSET Level 3