Pretty in Pink
While most people think of rosé as a basic “blush” wine, there is another drier side to pink wine that deserves to be explored. “Blush” is a term that is generally used to describe the sugary, mass produced pink wines in North America, which are taken considerably less serious than other wines. While these sweet pink wines have caused many people to turn their cheek even to the idea of rosé wines, the dry rosés display a sophisticated series of flavors with a versatile food pairing potential, and also carry with them an intriguing story of how they are produced.
The production of a rosé can most commonly occur in one of two ways. One process, called maceration, is used when rosé is the primary wine being produced, and requires that the skins of crushed red grapes have contact with their juices for only a short amount of time during the fermentation process. This gives the wine its pink hue while removing the harsh tannins that you would otherwise find in red wines, where the skins remain present throughout fermentation.
The second process known as bleeding, or “saignée,” takes place when a rosé wine is created as a byproduct of a red wine by “bleeding the vats.” In this process, the winemaker removes lightly colored grape juice from the freshly pressed grapes at an early stage in the fermentation of a red wine. This process allows for the initial red wine to intensify in flavor, while also creating a lighter rosé wine from powerfully flavored grapes. Because of the tart acidity that the tannins attribute to the wine, the length of time that the grape skins are allowed contact with its juices in either method of production determines the hue and flavor intensity of the final product.
Just as important to the final flavor of the wine is the varietal used to produce it. An array of different grapes is used in various wine growing regions around the world, and each varietal brings its own unique characteristics to the blend. Grenache and Mourvèdre are common varietals used in France and usually present flavors of berries and citrus, while the Garnacha and Tempranillo varietals common in Spain also include a mineral flavor, and Sangiovese in Italy contains that of floral. Many rosé wines from America are made from the classic Rhône varietals such as Grenache, Mourvèdre and Syrah and consist mainly of the lighter and sweeter berry flavors. Its aromas are similar to its taste and usually include light floral scents, red berries and fruit. Generally, rosé wines are the perfect blend of a light, refreshing and delicate white wine with the tart berry flavors of a red.
Rosé wines have the best of both worlds with a balanced mix of qualities of both red and white wines. The presence of low to mild tannins and a low acidity level and alcohol content allows for pairings with both the heavier, high protein dishes that would commonly be paired with reds and the lighter more delicate dishes that would be paired with whites. This summertime wine is frequently paired with meats and vegetables just off the grill, and is also a great accompaniment to salads and greens, poultry, seafood, and spicy dishes. Served chilled, rosé is truly versatile and can be perfectly paired with almost anything.
Delicate, flavorfully sweet and beautifully balanced, rosé wines are a budding favorite among wine drinkers, and are becoming increasingly more recognized as a wine worthy of drinking regularly. With a sophisticated range of flavors, intricate means of production and versatile potential, rosé wines present an exciting alternative to the wine drinker as a subtle, refreshing and innovative wine.