Getting to Know Rosé Wine Varietals

glasses of rosé wine

There is nothing quite like the beautiful color of a glass of rosé, but you might be curious about the rosé wine varietals. There are numerous ones available and perhaps you want to learn a bit more and try some new ones. We’ll show you more about all the varietals of rosé wine.

What is Rosé Wine?

One of the oldest of all known wine types, rosé wine is usually prepared using the “skin contact method.” It is a type of wine that uses some of the color from the grape skins, but not enough to be considered a red wine. The beverage is named after the way it gets its color from grape skins, which is normally some shade of pink.

In general, the color is determined by the kind of grapes or the winemaking technique used. The word “rosé wine” is used primarily in English, French, and Portuguese-speaking countries. In Italian, it is known as “Rosato” while the Spanish call it “Rosado.”

More often than not, the grapes used in production of red and rosé wine are the same. It is the manufacturing process that makes all the difference. For instance, the grapes used in the preparation of Red Zinfandel and White Zinfandel, a rosé wine, are the same. But these wines provides a very different experience.  

A general misconception is that all rosé wine varietals are a combination of red and white wine. However, most of them are formed as a result of skin contact. It is only in rosé champagne and some varieties available in certain regions of the world that a fusion of red and white wine takes place.

Ways to Make Rosé

  • Skin Contact

The term “intentional rosé” is commonly used in the wine industry. It refers to the practice of grapes being grown and harvested for the sole purpose of manufacturing rosé wine. The grapes are picked early so as to preserve their acidity and strong flavor. This is followed by a short maceration period.

When making red wine, grapes are crushed and then the juice is allowed lots of time on the skins. This is not the case with rosé wine where the juice is only on the skins for a few hours or, at most, a week. The shorter this period is, the lighter the wine color will be. Once maceration is completed, the wine is drawn off and fermented until full dryness is achieved.

  • Direct Pressing

This is very similar to the skin contact method of making rosé.  Direct pressing allows the juice of the grapes to only be in contact with the skins for a short period of time. The grapes are pressed to remove the skins, but a hint of their color remains. This makes for a very light-colored rosé.

  • Saigneé

A richer rosé is one made by the saignée, or “bleeding,” method. This wine process is used for making both rosés and reds. Early in the maceration process, some of the juice is removed as rosé. Later, the more concentrated juice is used for red.

Types of Rosé

Dry Rosé Wine

This is the most common variety of rosé wine produced around the globe today. Spain and France are among the leading manufacturers where the drink is prepared using two to three different kinds of grapes. Popular types of dry rosé wine include Syrah, Carignan, Grenache, Cinsault, Sangiovese, Pinot Noir, and Mourvedre.

Sweet Rosé Wine

In general, any rosé wine variety that is prepared in a sweet style without fermenting all the sugar into the alcohol can be considered sweet rosé wine. However, this is not very common. It is normally reserved for production of wine in bulk. Nevertheless, if you are on the hunt for a sweet rosé wine, you should consider a Pink Moscato, White Merlot, or White Zinfandel.

French Rosé

Southern France (along the Mediterranean) is recognized the world over as a hub of rosé wine production. Varieties such as Syrah, Carignan, and Grenache are combined here to produce vibrant dry rosé. Laced with zesty acidity, wines from this area carry a refreshing aroma of raspberries and strawberry.

If you are big on quality when it comes to wine, go for wines that contain a high percentage of Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre. The regions where you can find them include Provence, Rhône Valley, Chinon, Loire Valley, etc.

Spanish Rosados

The Spaniards are no less passionate about rosé wines and have been enjoying them for ages. However, global popularity has been a somewhat recent phenomenon. Conventional manufacturers make simple and quaffable drinks. But, with increasing exports, the quality has gone up a few notches too.

Tempranillo and Grenache are mostly used in the manufacturing of different rosé wines varietals. Compared to their French counterparts, the Spanish versions tend to be of a deeper hue. Navarra (or Navarre), Rioja, and Txakoli are among the main rosé wine-producing regions in the Land of the Setting Sun.     

Italian Rosatos

In Italy, rosé wine is prepared all over the country. Different regions have their own unique styles and flavors that depend largely on the local climate as well as winemaking conventions. The northeastern part of the country (Veneto, Trentino-Alto Adige, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, etc.), which is relatively cooler, is known for making more delicate rosé versions. Chief among them is Chiaretto which is native to Veneto and Lombardy.  

In contrast, central Italy is known for rosatos of higher quality such as the cherry-pink Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo. It is prepared from the Montepulciano grape. Over in the south, rosatos tend to be fuller-bodies and flavored.

Final Word

With so many different types of wines out there, it can be challenging to choose. You now know that there are many rosé wine varietals made in several ways to produce different qualities you’ll taste in the rosé. No matter which type your choose, you’ll enjoy the distinct taste that only rosé wine offers.