If you read Wednesday’s article, you know we’re celebrating rosé month in August. We covered pairings on Wednesday, so make sure to check that out if you haven’t already. Today we’re going deep into the world of rosé and talking about how this quintessential summer sipper is made and what grapes are typically used.

Reds Become Rosé

Technically, any red wine grape can be used to make rosé because the dark grape skins are what’s needed to tint the wine. That being said, there are some red wine grapes that are used more often than others. Let’s take a look at the top 5 now.

  • Pinot Noir- One of the most popular red wines, Pinot Noir can also become a highly popular rosé. It is often a delicate wine, with gentle strawberry and citrus flavors.
  • Grenache- If you’ve ever had a rosé from Provence, there’s a good chance it was made from Grenache grapes blended with Syrah, Cinsault, and Mourvedre. These wines tend to be dry with bright red fruit flavors and high acidity. Grenache is also popular in Spain, where it is known as Garnacha.
  • Syrah- Syrah makes a big, bold red wine and is known for creating a “meaty” rosé. Spice notes are at the forefront with fruit in the background, making this great for those who want a rosé with a little more heft.
  • Sangiovese- If you’re looking for a rosé made from Sangiovese, look for a label with Rosato (and the pink color, of course). Bursting with cherry, raspberry, and strawberry flavors, these rosé wines can have a lot of value for the price.
  • Zinfandel- No rosé list (in the U.S. at least) is complete without Zinfandel. You know which one I’m talking about- the pink wine that everyone either loves or hates. It’s a sweet, low-alcohol rosé wine made from Zinfandel grapes. Some people claim that it’s not a “real” rosé, but alas for them, it truly is- just sweet.

The Making of Rosé

There are four ways to make rosé: short maceration and blending.

  • Short maceration is easily the most common method. The winemaker starts by crushing the grapes and macerating, or leaving the skins in contact with the juice, for a short time (a few hours to 2 days) to dye the juice red and impart some extra flavor. Once the juice is the color the winemaker wants, the skins are removed and fermentation begins just like it would for white wine.
  • Direct pressing is used to make super light colored rosés. The grapes are pressed to separate the juice and skins as soon as they’re crushed, so the juice has just the slightest hint of pink.
  • The saignée method isn’t super common, but it’s actually pretty cool because it is used to make a highly concentrated red wine AND rosé. The winemaker will drain off some of the juice a short time into maceration, and proceed with making a rosé wine from that. The remainder of the juice is left in contact with the skins. Since there is less juice, the red wine is much more concentrated.
  • Blending is actually banned in many wine regions in Europe. It involves mixing a little red wine with a lot of white wine to make….pink wine. It can also be used to make Champagne because that’s just how that region likes to roll.

That’s the scoop on rosé wine. Whether it’s the wine of summer to you or you rosé all year long, its popularity doesn’t seem to be waning even after being on the upswing for several years. What’s your favorite way to rosé?