When you decide to buy a bottle of Italian wine, you’re generally choosing between three options – red, white, or sparkling. But there is a fourth option that offers a nice middle ground between red and white for people who want something a little different.
Of course, we’re talking about Rosé.
Though Rosé wines are beloved by many, they’re not talked about as often as their more illustrious and common cousins. In fact, many people don’t know too much about them, beyond the fact that they have a pinkish colouring and seem to combine the qualities are red and white wines.
So, this article is going to be all about shedding some light on Rosé wines.
We’re going to explain what they are, how they’re made, and cover any other interesting tidbits that we think are worth knowing about this most interesting of wine varieties.
What is Rosé?
The first thing you need to know about Rosé is that it’s not a specific wine vintage. It’s more of a genre of wine, in much the same way that red and white are. As such, each Rosé you drink may have different qualities or use varying types of grapes.
The wine is produced in a similar fashion to red wine, which includes fermentation along with the grape skins. The key difference is that the length of time the wine spends with these skins is cut short. This is why Rosé has the pinkish hues that we all know, rather than the deeper reds and violets you see in red wine.
What Types of Grapes Are Used in Rosé Wine?
If a producer grows any type of red grapes, they’re in a position to make Rosé wine. These wines can be made using all types of red grapes, as the only real difference between them and red wines lies in the production method. As a result, Rosé wines can also be made in any country that grows red grapes. Perhaps it’s this versatility that has led to these types of wines becoming more popular in newer wine territories such as the United States. However, the wine is also enjoyed in many more established winemaking countries, including Spain, France, and Italy.
However, it’s fairly rare for a Rosé wine to use a single type of grape.
Most examples of these wines use a blend of grapes, which means producers combine several varieties of red wine grapes to create their drinks. For example, an Italian wine producer may combine Sangiovese with Pinot Noir to create an interesting combination of flavours. Having said that, single varietals are more common in some regions than in others. In California, many Rosé wines are made solely using the Pinot Noir grape.
The main exception to the red grape rule is Rosé Champagne.
Just like traditional Champagne, this drink is made using the Chardonnay grape. However, that grape is blended with a selection of red grapes, creating the pinkish colouring most people are familiar with. Rosé Champagne is an interesting subsection of these types of wines as it’s one of the few that throws bubbles into the mix.
How Are Rosé Wines Made?
As mentioned, Rosé wines have a similar production method to red wines. However, there are a few steps included to remove the grape skins at specific points during the fermentation process. Typically, the production process follows these steps:
Step 1 – Crushing
The grapes are all gathered together and crushed into a wine juice. This is usually done using machinery if the winemaker mass produces their wine. However, those making small volumes of Rosé may use the traditional method of placing the grapes in a vat and then stomping them into a mush using their bare feet. This process is often called “foot trodding” or “grape stomping”.
Step 2 – Fermentation
As anybody who knows about Italian wine will tell you, fermentation is that wonderful process that turns standard grape juice into an alcoholic beverage.
The juice produced by the crushing process is poured into a large tank, usually stainless steel. The producer then adds yeast, which is needed to convert the sugars in the grape juice into carbon dioxide and alcohol. The grape skins are left on during this process, allowing their flavours and tannins to seep into the wine.
However, this is where we see a little touch of white wine production enter the mix.
To create Rosé wines, producers have to ferment their grape juices at a much lower temperature. They also need to minimize the contact the juice has with the grape skins, meaning this initial fermentation process takes between 12 and 36 hours.
Step 3 – Pressing and Bottling
Following fermentation, the wine goes through a pressing process designed to remove all of the grape skins from the final blend. This reveals a wine that has a pinkish hue, due to its limited contact with the skins.
After pressing, the Rosé will usually be bottled immediately. This preserves the juice’s attractive flavours. It also means that most Rosé wines are best consumed young, which is another similarity to white wine.
What Do Rosé Wines Taste Like?
Rosé wines have a fresh and fruity profile, much as you’d expect from a white wine. However, they also often incorporate notes that are more common in reds, creating an interesting blend of floral, citrus, and red fruit notes. These wines tend to be bright and crisp, with the exact flavour depending on the grapes used. Some Rosé wines are quite savoury, with others being exceptionally sweet.
Enter the World of Rosé
Have you tried a few Italian red wines and found they were a bit too strong and complex for you’re liking? Perhaps you’ve also tried a few white wines and feel they’re a touch too acidic or fresh? If that sounds like you, Rosé wine offers a perfect middle ground that gives you the best of both worlds.
You just need to grab yourself a bottle.
That’s where Xtrawine comes in. We maintain an extensive collection of Rosé wines from Italy and other areas of the world. Explore our catalogue today and we’re sure you’ll find something to suit your tastes.
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