Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Rosé confusion

The Washington Post ran a story today about French-style rosés:

Pink wines are made from red grapes that are allowed to ferment for a much shorter time than for red wines, so the grape skins spend less time leaching their color into the juice. The process (which the French call saignee, derived from the verb meaning "to bleed") is halted when the wine is merely light to dark pink instead of red.

I think that this description may be a bit misleading.

Fermentation of rosés is not necessarily shorter than that of red wines, even though the aging may not be nearly that of the decades-long of a Bordeaux. It's the contact time of the red grape skins in the pressing that makes the difference.

From Wikipedia:
Saignée, or bleeding, is used when the winemaker desires to impart more tannin and color to a red wine, and removes some pink juice from the must at an early stage, in a process known as bleeding the vats. The removed juice is then fermented separately, producing the rosé as a by-product of the red wine, which is intensified as a result of the bleeding, because the volume of juice in the must is reduced, and the must involved in the maceration is concentrated.

The Post article continues:

Blush wines such as California's white zin are typically off-dry (slightly sweet) to sweet in flavor. However, rosé wines tend to be drier than dry and are made around the world.Even far outside their spiritual homeland in Provence, spicy rosés are a staple of summer drinking.

Read more with the authors' specific rosé wine recommendations here.

At the recent Northern Virginia Beer Festival, I enjoyed a tasty Virginia rosé.

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