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What Are Rosé Wines and How Are They Made?

Today, my son asked me, “What are rose wines and how are they made?” I realized that this would make a worthy subject to discuss in this wine blog especially as it is during the summer months that we enjoy rose wines the most.

Rose wines are made of red grapes or red grape varietals. Rose champagne or rose sparkling wines are exceptions because they are also made with white grapes or white grape varietals (I say varietals because Chardonnay is not the only white grape used to make sparkling wines). There are some winemakers who add a little white wine to their own blend of still rose wine, but this is not common practice.

About Rose Wines

There’s a difference between old-world rose and new-world rose wines. Old-world rose wines tend to be more bone-dry than new-world rose wines. Californian rose wines, for instance, can be almost sweet; they also have very similar characteristics to white wines. It should be noted, however, that there are now some Californian rose winemakers who make fruity, elegant and almost bone-dry rose wines that resemble old-world roses. Sophia by Coppola is just such a wine.

Tip: You should drink still rose wines when they are young or are 1-3 years old. Good rose champagnes with some age can be a real delight.

How Are Rose Wines Made?

There are several ways to make rose wines and you can find a lot of information about them online. You should be aware, however, that the four most commonly used methods of rose winemaking are often explained erroneously in the internet. The errors persist even in some of the top-ranked sites!

I love the internet, but I believe it has become as much of a misinformation highway as an information highway. I wanted to set the record straight and give you the correct information about wines and wine making, so I started this wine education and wine review blog. But that’s neither here nor there. Let’s go back to the topic: rose wine making.

The four approaches to making rose wines are bleeding, pressing, limited maceration, and run off.

On Provence Rose Wines

Provence rose wines are usually made using the same local blends used in making red wines. Most rose wines from Provence are made using the Grenache and Cinsault grapes or varietals, but some have been made using Mourvèdre.

For the wine aroma hunters: The following are the typical aromas found in rose wines from the Provence region (Côtes de Provence, Côteaux d’Aix-en-Provence, les Baux-de Provence, Bandol, Cassis, Bellet, and Palette):

If you want to try a typical rose wine from Provence, I recommend Mas du Fadan Côte de Ventoux 2007. Oh, and by the way, a great bottle of rose wine should not cost you more than $20-$25 unless it is rose champagne!