Pink wine: we’re crazy about it. Whether it’s a French “rosé,” an Italian “rosato,” or a Spanish “rosado,” we can’t get enough pink wine! Did you ever wonder, while sipping your frosty glass of rosé on the roof deck, why it’s pink? What makes rosé different from a white wine or a red wine? Here’s a simple three-point explanation you can use to impress your rosé -loving friends.
1. Almost all wine grapes have white juice, even the red ones.
The grapes that do have red juice are few and rare, like Alicante Bouschet and Grand Noir de la Calmette. Ignoring those for the moment, when we press grapes to make wine, the juice is always white to start. It’s the grape skins that contain pigments and tannins (the thing that makes your mouth feel dry), as well as other flavor compounds.
2. The longer the juice sits on the grape skins, the more color and flavors it will extract.
To make a rosé , a winemaker will allow the grapes’ skins to sit in the juice for a short period of time, where they release just enough color to make the resulting wine turn pink, as in a salmon-colored Beaujolais rosé made from Gamay grapes. Macerate/steep the same grapes’ juice and skins longer, and the winemaker can make a red Beaujolais. Some rosés are macerated for as little as 8 hours, some for a few days. Darker grapes and longer maceration times will make darker rosés.
3. Some rosés are made to drink young, but many age well.
There’s nothing like a glass of crisp, light Gobelsburger or Commanderie Peyrossal rosé on the first warm day of spring. There is also nothing like a glass of dark Bisson Ciliegiolo rosato with a plate of grilled mushrooms on a snowy day in January. Plus, those wonderful Bandol rosés from Provence just keep getting better and better, we like to save them at least a year before partaking (Think Chateau Pibarnon or Domaine Tempier)
In conclusion, within the spectrum of shades of pink wines, there are just as many flavor profiles as there are colors. When you taste a rosé you really enjoy, think about why you like it. Is it fruity? Minerally? Tart or juicy? Where is it from and how dark is it? With a few of these qualities in mind, we can direct you to other cool rosés you may not have tried before. Also let us know what you’re planning on eating with the wine. We have favorites for different foods, whether it be Sancerre rose and salmon, or Loire Valley Touraine Rose with fresh, young goat’s milk cheese. Spend your summer drinking rosés, but don’t forget to save a few for those dark days of winter, when you’re wishing it was a sweltering summer day.
Julie Cappelanno is the General Manager and Wine Buyer at Formaggio South End.