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How do you get the colour in Rosé?

The title to today`s blog is customers most-asked-question about Rosé wines. The second, we`ll get to. First then: If we adopt the mainstream of acceptance according to European Union (Old World) regulations, there is one principal method of Rosé production, and this is skin contact. It`s much the same as making red wine, but briefer. In short: Grape juice, which is clear, becomes coloured when macerated with the grape skins, skins which are rich in anthocyanins, or pigments. A deep red wine will have had a long maceration, weeks or even months, while a pale Rosé, a blush wine, will have had a brief maceration, sometimes just a few hours. The juice is then racked or pressed off the skins, and the pink juice is left to ferment into wine. There are many variations consistent to this method with differences in the detail, and results, but I wonder if you knew that within Europe, uniquely, it is only in the Champagne region that they are allowed to arrive at the pink colour by blending a red wine with a white in the making of Champagne Brut Rosé.  Interesting, eh.  Second most-asked-question is “What is blush?” The original term “blush”, meaning pink wine, you`ll recall, was from California: “Blush Zinfandel”, introduced as “White Zinfandel” to denote the skin contact method of winemaking. In essence it was saying: “Red grapes used to produce pink wine, using white wine methods, save for the briefest of skin-contact”.  After a while, the “White Zinfandel” tag proved too confusing and was dropped, while the “blush” descriptor not only stuck, but was widened to incorporate all Rosé.  The question most rarely asked about Rosé is this one: “What grape or grapes make the best Rosé?” My answer is this: Each to their own preference, but grapes matter. They influence colour and flavour just as much or more than the length of skin-contact. Grenache, for example, an orange-pink hue, tastes of strawberries and currants; Syrah, cherry-red, of summer berries. And colour matters, as you know, because we buy with our eyes.

 

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