On the brunch table of a relaxing Sunday morning, by the beach with seafood, or as an aperitif to light up an after-work party, rosé wine embraces the popularity for its refreshing taste and versatile nature. From the delicate and light salmon-coloured rosé wines from Provence to the sweet, fruity white Zinfandel from California, rosé wine can be produced using several different methods and a number of grape varieties, each resulting in a unique style and flavour profile.
Direct press rosé - the “true” rosé
The direct press is a common way of making white wine, as well as rosé. The red grapes are pressed as soon as they are harvested to preserve their freshness and fruity characters. After pressing, the juice undergoes the same fermentation process as white wine. The short contact of the juice and the grape skin during the pressing renders a pale, delicate pink colour. The direct press method is favoured for its simplicity and purity, often regarded as the “true” way of making rosé wine.
Rosé wine made with the direct press method is light and refreshing, with crisp acidity and bright fruit flavours. Depending on the grape variety used, the taste profile of direct press rosé can be varied, but in general, features vibrant fruit characters of strawberry, raspberry and citrus, with floral or herbaceous notes, and sometimes stands out with a hint of minerality. This style of rosé is best consumed young and is perfect for quenching the summer thirst.
Direct press rosé is widely used in many wine regions throughout the world, including Provence in France and the new world regions.
Maceration rosé - the gastronomic rosé
If the direct press is making rosé with the method of making white wine, the maceration method is making rosé with the method of making red wine. Similar to the reds, maceration rosé is made by leaving the grape skins in contact with the juice for a short period of time, usually several hours to two days. The juice is then separated from the skins and fermented, resulting in a wine with a deeper pink colour and a more intense flavour. The length of time the skins are in contact with the juice determines the intensity of the pink colour. The longer the maceration, the higher level of the extraction of the colour and flavour from the grape skin.
Unlike direct press rosé, maceration rosé is known for its fuller body and more complex flavour profile. It can have rich flavours of red fruit, such as cherries and raspberries, as well as floral or spicy notes. The wine also has a slightly tannic texture, which gives it a bit of structure. Because of the taste profile of maceration rosé, it’s more versatile in food pairing. The complex flavours and tannic structure allow this style of rosé matching with a wide range of dishes effortlessly.
Maceration rosé is the most common way of making rosé. Typical regions of maceration rosé include Tavel in the Rhône Valley of France, Douro Valley in Portugal and many regions in Italy. The famous white Zinfandel is also made with the maceration method. It is worth noting that before the fermentation process, a small portion of white grapes can be added to make maceration rosé.
Saignée Rosé - the serious rosé
Saignée is the French word for “bleeding” which refers to rosé that is made by "bleeding off" a portion of the juice from a tank of red wine during the fermentation process. The juice removed is then fermented separately to make rosé wine. This method was originally used as a way to make more concentrated red wine, the rosé on the other hand, was simply the by-product of red winemaking, but winemakers soon discovered that the resulting rosé wine was also delicious and of high quality.
Saignée rosé is known for its bold flavours and intense colour. The wine, like the twin of the red wine, has a deeper pink hue than direct press rosé and is richer and more robust than maceration rosé. Saignée rosé is typically characterised by flavours of ripe strawberries, cherries, and blackberries, as well as floral aromas of rosé and violet with a touch of spice. Depending on the grape variety used, the wine may also have a slightly savoury edge.
Compared with its direct press and macerated counterparts, Saignée rosé is less common in the market. It is found mostly in red wine-producing regions like Languedoc-Roussillon and Bordeaux in France, Spain and Napa Valley in the United States. A trick to spot Saignée rosé in the rosé haystack - a rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon is usually made with the Saignée method.
Blended rosé - the bubbly rosé
As the name implies, blended rosé is made by blending red and white wines. The practice is prohibited by the European Union, with a sole exception, the Champagne region in France. This technique is less common than the others, but it can produce some unique and delicious rosé wines. The wine can be made by blending a small amount of red wine into white wine or by blending red and white wines before fermentation. The blended rosé Champagne is produced in the Champagne region from the blended base wine, with around 15% of red wine made from Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier added to the white wine.
Depending on the ratio of red to white wine used, still blended rosé can have a pale pink colour or a deeper pink tint. The wine can have a variety of flavours, ranging from crisp citrus to rich berry accents. Due to the European restrictions, the still version is mostly found in new world countries such as Australia. However, blended rosé Champagne is the most common way of producing rosé Champagne. The addition of red wine enhances the complexity, structure, and intensity of the Champagne, creating a more harmonious taste profile.
The diversity of rosé wine styles and production methods is a testament to the versatility and complexity of this beloved wine. Each style, from the delicate and pale-hued direct press rosé to the rich and food-friendly maceration rosé, highlights the distinct characteristics of the grapes, the terroir, and the winemaker's craft.
Explore the world of rosé wine today
Whether you prefer a crisp and refreshing rosé for a sunny day or a more complex and structured rosé for a special occasion, there is a style of rosé wine that will perfectly suit your taste. With its versatile character and approachable charm, rosé wine is sure to delight and impress. So why not delve into the world of rosé wines and discover your own favourite style? Check out our selection of rosé wine here. We’re bound to have something for you.