October 25 2021
How is rosé wine made?
Any wine fan who is a little attentive to the news and market movements will have observed that Spain is currently experiencing a "pink fever": rosé wines are gaining more enthusiasts day by day and there are rosés for all tastes, from the freshest and simplest to serious and complex, fermented in barrels and conceived for aging, made with foreign varieties –merlot, syrah, cabernet sauvignon, pinot noir– or those that offer the leading role to the native grapes of each region. And just as there are rosés made with garnacha, trepat, tempranillo, mencía, prieto picudo, pansa rosada and other local grapes, there are also different styles, resulting from different production methods. Hence, some are almost as intense in tone as that of a light red wine while others, following Provençal fashion, are pale to the extreme.
The different maceration methods are the key in the elaboration of rosé wines, which are increasingly trending.
Rosé wine maceration methods
The precise methodology for making rosé wines even caused a controversy in the summer of 2009, when an initiative by the European Union sought to authorize the blending of white and red wines to obtain rosés. The scandal made the front page of the newspapers, and the idea was thrown out, but it helped European wine growers react in defense of the “traditional rosé” and inform consumers about the techniques used to make them.
In the Manifesto for the defense of European rosé wine that the Spanish Conference of Wine Regulatory Councils published in those days, it was specified that "The rosé is a quality wine that responds to a particular vinification, consisting of the fermentation of musts from grapes, generally mostly inks, which are previously macerated, to characterize the color and flavor of the wine with the time of permanence of the must and the skin that is just and necessary".
The manifest, however, omitted that there are three common methods to carry out this maceration:
The red grapes are subjected to mechanical pressure until the must acquires the desired color.
Is achieved by separating the skins from the must and draining it, so that the liquid precipitates and the solid residues are retained.
The skins remain in contact with the wort until the appropriate color is obtained.
Origin, grape variety, and production method distinguish the features of the new rosés that have revolutionized the wine scene.
Like a white wine made with red grapes
Except for this maceration process, the rest of the process of making rosé wines is like that of white wines, with the difference that red grapes are used in the case of rosés.
This process includes the following steps, once the grapes have been harvested, transported, unloaded, and crushed:
Depending on the pressure exerted on the grapes, the worsts will be of higher or worse quality. The best is the yolk (or flower) must, which is obtained by the natural pressure of some bunches on others.
It is done by resting and decanting to separate the must from the herbaceous parts.
In this phase, the sugars in the worst are transformed into alcohol, with the intervention of yeasts (which can be "autochthonous" or added).
It is the process by which the wine is transferred from one container to another, to remove the solid remains.
It is carried out so that the liquid does not appear cloudy. In rosé wines, milk albumin (casein) is usually used for this.
Another alternative to eliminate impurities and contribute to the wine having a more crystalline appearance; in this case, a membrane is usually used to filter out the small particles.
In some cases, the process is completed with these two steps:
Fermentation in barrels
To promote complexity, fermentation takes place in wooden containers, which provide additional micro-oxygenation, while the presence of lees (dead yeast, plant remains, insoluble acids and other sediments) enriches the aromatic expression of the wine.
Aging in barrels
It is not very common in this typology, but there are exceptions in which the wine is kept in barrels - generally in Bordeaux format: 225 liters - for a period usually lasting between three months and a year. The contact between the wine and the barrel produces varied effects: fusion of tannins, spicy nuances, and toasted notes ... and in theory it should favor the longevity of the wine.
If it is a wine with fermentation and/or aging in barrels, it is usual to rest for a few months in the bottle before going on the market. Otherwise, if it is a young rosé wine from a new vintage, it usually leaves the winery without further delay.
15 Bodegas has a wide range of rosé wines, with a diverse profile, with alternatives that allow us to appreciate the different nuances offered by this typology, depending on the origin, variety, and production method. The Time for rosés pack, which includes four wines from different wineries and P.D.O., is a good option to discover the contemporary expression of Spanish rosés in four different registers. Do you dare to try one? You will understand why rosés have more and more enthusiasts.