So Rosé is not a varietal, what is a Rosé wine, anyway?
Well, Rosé wines have many different personalities and appearances which is why they are just so amazingly attractive. Really… there is something for everyone. From sweet to dry and light pink to a dark candied cherry, beauty can be in the eye of the beholder. But let’s look at what really goes on behind the scenes in the pink bottle of love.
What grapes make a Rosé?
There are actually many many different grapes that can be used for making Rosé and interestingly enough not just red wine grapes. Here in New Zealand however, the most common grapes used are Pinot Noir, Syrah, and Merlot. But in our amazing line-up there are also Cabernet Franc, Petit Meunier and Tempranillo and some white ones too!
Do you add strawberries to the wine to get that flavour?
No, surprisingly enough all the flavours are packed into the grape skins. That is why different varieties tend to taste different. The flavours are extracted during the winemaking process and then carefully tended to before the wine goes into the bottle and is served to you. And no, vanilla, honey, pepper or caramel are not added either.
Are all Rosé wines sweet? They look like cotton candy and lolly water.
No, don’t be afraid of pink wines – we have come a long way from those Reunite wine cooler days of the ’70’s! Crisp and dry Rosé wines can’t be beaten hands down on a hot summery afternoon… they love food and long luxurious afternoons… almost as much as the people that are drinking them! You can also go for the sparkling Rosé wines or those that are lightly or semi-sparkling. The best thing to do is get out there and try as many as you can!
Do they all come from the same place?
No. New Zealand is blessed with an amazing diversity of wine growing regions and we are pleased to say that the wines coming from them are really world-class. We have wines from the North Island including Auckland, Gisborne, Hawke’s Bay and Martinborough as well as the South Island – Marlborough, Nelson, the Waitaki Valley and Central Otago.
Should you chill a bottle of Rosé?
Yes, a bottle of Rosé is delicious chilled to 7-12° C. A typical refrigerator temperature is 1.5° C, so a rule of thumb is to take the wine out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving to let it warm up a bit.
Where does it get its pink colour from and why are they all different? Let’s go deep into the winemaking process…
The winemaker is the real engineer in this process and it’s a high bit of artistry that goes into making this mosaic of pinkness. There are really 3 ways to make Rosé: skin contact, Saignée and blending:
Skin Contact: The colour generally comes from the amount of contact that the grape juice has with the red grape skins, i.e. the longer the contact, the darker the pink. Also the type of wine grape can affect the colour as well, as Pinot Noir will not give as much colour, as say, a heartier grape skin like a Syrah. Generally the process of getting it’s colour can last from 1-3 days.
Saignée: There is also the Saignée and blending methods, however these are used as a secondary method to making Rosé wines. Saignée, (we know, a difficult word to say) is the process of removing (“bleeding off”) some of the juice from the fermenting red wine ‘must’, which is thought to really concentrate the colour and flavour of the red wine remaining. Then this is bottled up and voilá, you have a Rosé!
Blending: Or you can choose the process of blending white and red wines to make a Rosé. This is a tinkerer’s experiment where you can fiddle with aromas, colours, and flavours based on what you are wanting to achieve. Not really a paint by numbers type of exercise but something that can be considered a true art form by many.
Next time you’re sipping a pink drink, pay attention to the region, varietal and style so you can find what you like and choose a similar tipple next time.
Feel free, hoot over any other questions you may have about your favourite pink drink!