Rosé Wine: What Is It And How Is It Made?

Rosé wine is easily identifiable by its lovely, soft pink hue. Rosés have become extremely popular over the past few years, and it doesn’t look like this popularity is going away anytime soon. Rosé is much more than just the halfway point between white wine and red wine. There are so many amazing varieties of rosé out there that it’s hard to select just one bottle.

What is rosé?

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to rosé. Many people think that it’s a trendy new beverage when in reality, it’s been around for a long time. Rosé wines can trace their roots back to ancient Greece when much of the wine produced was a very pale red, as it was not left to macerate for as long as it usually would be today.

During the Middle Ages, “clariet,” a dark rosé wine, became the most popular wine exported to Bordeaux from England. And by the 19th century, the practice of producing light wines reached the United States, specifically in California, where rosé has been produced since the mid-1800s.

So, what actually is rosé? It’s not a specific type of wine, but rather, a genre, like red or white. Rosé is identifiable by its pink hue, and colors can range from a light, blush pink to a deeper, nearly red color. Rosé is made similarly to other wines, but it is set apart because the winemakers reduce the time it ferments with the grape skins. This reduced skin contact gives rosé its signature color.

Another common misconception about rosé is that they’re always sweet. Rosé can be made from a wide variety of different grapes and is available in a range of different sweetness levels. The most common types of red grapes used to produce rosé are Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, and Pinot Noir.

While rosé has been a mainstay in France for generations, its popularity has skyrocketed over the past few years, especially in the United States. Rosé wine is popular for various reasons: it has a fun, easy-going reputation and is usually fairly inexpensive. Its popularity has also largely been credited to social media, and popular hashtags such as #roséallday have been thought to increase the wine’s sales.

The actual flavor and aroma of rosé depend on what type of rosé it is and the grapes it’s made from. Many people spot the pink hue and automatically associate the wine with fruity, sweet flavors. 

A study aimed to assess how the pink hue of rosé wines influences perceived aroma and flavor, in which participants were given a glass of white wine, a glass of rosé, and a dyed, fake rosé-colored wine. Participants concluded that the fake rosé was much more similar to the real rosé than the white wine, in both flavor and aroma. But just because a wine is pink doesn’t mean it’s actually rosé, although your brain may perceive it that way.

How is rosé made?

There are three main ways to produce rosé wine: the maceration method, the Saignée or “Bled” method, and the blending method. 

The maceration method

The maceration method is probably the most common rosé production method. It is used especially often in the French regions of Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon, where rosé is just as highly regarded as red or white wine. 

The maceration method is when red wine grapes are left to rest, or macerate, in the juice for a period of time, and the entire batch is made into rosé. This method produces a darker-colored wine with a richer flavor. The red grape skins can touch the wine for anywhere from two to 20 hours, much shorter than the length of time allowed for red wine.

The saignée/bled method

This method is not as common as the maceration method and will often only make up 10% or less of a winery’s production. The Saignée, or “Bled” method, is common in wine regions that make fine red wines, such as Napa or Sonoma. 

This method involves bleeding off some of the juice during the first few hours of producing red wine and using that juice to make a new vat of rosé. Not only does it produce a lovely, rosy color, but it also concentrates the intensity of the red wine.

The blending method

This method can produce a huge range of wines and offers a huge amount of control over intensity and sweetness. It’s not common with still rosé wines but is often used in sparkling wine regions like Champagne.

The blending method involves adding a little bit of red wine to a vat of white wine to dye the wine pink. It only takes a small amount of red wine to reach the desired color, and most blended rosés only contain around 5% red wine.


What does rosé taste like?

Since rosé can be made from almost any wine grape, different rosés can offer a wide variety of different flavors. However, the primary flavor notes usually consist of red fruit, flowers, citrus, and melon, with a pleasant, crunchy, green flavor on the finish, like celery or rhubarb. rosé is usually fresh, fruity, bright, and crisp. The exact flavors present will depend on the style of rosé and the type of grape made to produce it. 

Grenache grapes

Grenache grapes are commonly used in rosé and are among the top varieties used in the very popular Provence Rosé blend. Grenache rosés offer flavors of strawberry, raspberry, watermelon candy, lemonade, and cucumber. Upon tasting, you’ll usually notice a burst of sweet red fruit flavor and a zesty-sweet, lemony, acidic finish.

Pinot noir grapes

Pinot Noir is another common grape you’ll see used to make rosé. Pinot noir grapes are extremely finicky and grow best in cool climates with lots of inclement weather. Sometimes winemakers have such a difficult time producing red Pinot Noirs that they make rosé instead.

Pinot Noir rosés usually offer strawberry, orange zest, lemon zest, celery, and white cherry. These rosés are usually very aromatic but lean, dry, and delicate on the palate.

Sangiovese grapes

Sangiovese is Italy’s top grape variety and is often found in Italian “Rosato” wines, which translates to pink. Sangiovese rosés offer bursts of red fruit, which are complemented by subtle, meaty spice notes. They’re usually packed with flavors of sweet cherry, wild strawberry, raspberry, allspice, clove, and cumin.

Syrah grapes

Syrah is another popular rosé variety used to make richer, oilier rosé wines. While it’s not your typical sweet, fruity, light rosé, Syrah can be used to make some of the most delicious rosé wines on the market today, with flavors of white pepper, red pepper flake, cured meat, cherry, and bitter lime zest.

Our favorite rosé wines

With so many incredible rosé wines out there, it can be hard to choose which bottle to try first. We’ve compiled some of our favorites to make the hunt for the perfect rosé a little bit easier.

  • Château d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé: The ever-popular Whispering Angel rosé is a gorgeous shade of light pink and tastes just as lovely as it looks. It’s soft and flavorful, with flavors of strawberry, green apple, and citrus. It’s an absolutely perfect summer rosé, but you’ll want to drink it all year long.
  • Apothic Rosé: This rosé is bright and crisp and features vibrant flavors of strawberry and raspberry. It offers an impeccable balance between sweet and sour notes and offers a refreshing yet creamy finish. It is produced in California, but it is very similar in style to the French Provençal-style Rosés.
  • Veuve Clicquot Champagne Rosé: If you like your rosé luxurious and bubbly, look no further than Veuve Clicquot Champagne Rosé. From the famous Champagne house Veuve Clicquot, this Champagne rosé screams elegance and luxury. It is fruity yet luscious and offers notes of dried fig, smoky pear, and nectarine.
  • Billette Cotes de Provence Rosé: Hailing from Provence, France, this rosé is elegant and sparkling, with flavors of grapefruit, citrus, red fruit, berry, and peach. It’s made from a blend of Grenache, Cinsault, and Syrah grapes and is incredibly uniform and round. This wine is gentle on the palate, distinct yet delicate.
  • Francis Coppola Sofia Rosé: A classic California rosé, this wine is lively and incredibly balanced. On the nose, you’ll notice strong aromas of wild strawberries, cardamom, and lemon peel. Upon tasting, you’ll notice succulent flavors of tangerine and slight hints of stony minerals. This wine is everything you could want from a rosé.

The takeaway

Rosé’s popularity has exploded over the past few decades, but some people are still confused about what rosé wine actually is and how it’s made. Rosé is a genre of wine, much like red or white. There are all different types of rosé, and wines can be sweet or dry, fruity or earthy. There are so many amazing rosés out there; you’ll have to get started now if you want to try them all.

To pick up a bottle of rosé without ever leaving your couch, visit Saucey. We offer speedy delivery on a huge variety of wine, beer, and spirits. Treat yourself to a gorgeous pink wine tonight, and we’ll take care of the rest.

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