I love Rosé ! It’s one of those wines one can drink at any time of the day … in France they start at 11am and you can see all the old retraités sipping their first tiny glass at the bistros on the boulevards before le grand répas at 12.15. Alas…I have to wait until 6pm to pour the first glass or I’ll have sieste all day ! The Overberg produces some lovely Rosés. My favourites vary every year and my fridge is happy to be anointed with an array of pale pink beauties. At the moment I’m quaffing away at Iona Sophie, Creation Rosé and Gabrielskloof Rosebud.
But how is this gorgeous sexy wine made?
Rosé can be made from any red grape, however certain varietals lend themselves more readily to this category like Grenache, Mourvèdre and Pinot Noir. Generally speaking, lighter skinned red grapes with fruity characteristics are great candidates for Rosé. Regardless of grape varietal, there are two main techniques to vinify Rosé: the bleeding method and or direct press.
In the bleeding method, red grapes are harvested to become a red wine; the grapes are de-stemmed, sorted, and sent to tank for cold-soaking (the grapes are held cold for a desired period of time prior to fermentation, a common practice in red-wine production). Usually, as quickly as possible a portion of the juice is bled off and set aside to be made into Rosé. For the tank of red wine, this means that you will have less juice to skin ratio, which in turn will create a more concentrated red wine. If the red grapes are picked at riper levels (more typical for red wine) this method can result in juice that has the DNA of a red wine, that is to say, the sugar is higher and the acid is lower.
The direct press, method involves harvesting grapes that are destined for Rosé, meaning they are usually picked at a lower sugar level (resulting in lower alcohol) and higher acid level. The grapes are then pressed and fermented off the skins, just like a white wine. Because the juice is coming from red grapes it will be naturally tinted pink. The more time the juice is in contact with the skins the darker the color will be. Some people choose to press the whole clusters with no skin contact time, and others prefer to de-stem the fruit and leave the juice in contact with the skins for a desired period of time (from hours to a day or so) prior to pressing. The more time the juice is left in contact with the skins the more color and flavours will be extracted into the juice.
The pink juice is then fermented like a white wine: the juice is fermented separately from the skins. Fermentation for Rosé most commonly occurs in the tank, but it can also be done in barrels (typically neutral barrels as new oak does not lend itself to Rosé). A variety of winemaking decisions can affect the outcome like fermentation temperature, speed, yeast selection, the addition of enzymes, prohibiting or encouraging malolactic fermentation etc.
Rosé is unique as it really is its own category of wine. It is typically not meant to age, and drinks best within a year or two of the vintage it was harvested. It really bridges the gap between most white wines and red wines as it typically has more body and fruit than a white wine, and more acid and softer than a red wine. It has the acidity and alcohol levels of a white wine with flavours and weight of a lighter red.
Perfect for daily quaffing and can be enjoyed on its own or with any dish. Go out and stock up and enjoy !
Thanks to Paso and Molly for the info. Cheers !