Have you ever wondered how they make Pinot Grigio rosé? Pinot Grigio wine is white, right? So how can Pinot Grigio rosé be pink? The answer is simpler than you might think, but it’s a good question. We all enjoy a glass of rosé during the summer, but how much do we really know about the pink stuff?
This guide will tell you all about how rosé wine is made, so you’ll be able to impress whoever will listen at your next barbeque!
What is rosé wine?
Rosé wine, sometimes called Rosado (in Spanish and Portuguese) and Rosato (in Italian), is neither white nor red, but pink. There are many different shades of pink and many different styles of rosé wine. Rosé is increasingly popular these days, with quality Provence rosé and inexpensive Californian rosé wines constantly in demand.
There is not just one style of rosé, just as there’s not just one style of red, white or sparkling wine. Rosé is often overlooked as being too simple a category, but there’s a wide range produced from bone dry to a little sweet, pale to quite dark and light to almost full-bodied. The different styles are down to a whole host of factors, from wine growing regions and grape varieties to winemaking styles.
In this guide, we’ll try to get a handle on rosé winemaking in particular. Let’s go back to our friend Pinot Grigio rosé, then.
How is rosé wine made?
Making rosé wine has a lot of steps in common with white and red winemaking, though it has some distinct methods of its own. The winemaker starts with (red) wine grapes, and has a number of options to choose from in order to produce a rosé wine. Four of the most common methods are:
Here, the grapes are gently pressed before alcoholic fermentation. The grapes do not stay in contact with their skins for very long, so the juice does not contain that much colour or tannin. This produces the lightest coloured rosé wines.
In this case, the process is the same as making red wine until the alcoholic fermentation begins. After the fermentation has been going on for some time (between a few hour and a couple of days), the winemaker drains the juice away from the skins (“drawing off”). The juice finishes fermenting without its skins, producing a relatively dark rosé wine.
This French term means “bleeding”, and the process is similar to drawing off. The difference is that instead of drawing all the juice off the skins, the winemaker leaves some in the tank. This actually produces two wines: A rosé, and a highly concentrated red wine. The red wine is usually the winemaker’s primary goal, meaning that the rosé is often just an afterthought and not necessarily the best quality.
This is pretty simple: The winemaker blends some red wine and some white wine together, yielding a pink wine. Blending is not permitted in the EU, with one key exception: Pink Champagne.
How do they make Pinot Grigio rosé?
That’s all well and good, but what about Pinot Grigio rosé? If blending is not permitted, how do they do it?
You probably know Pinot Grigio best as a light and simple dry white wine, probably from Italy. You may not have seen Pinot Grigio rosé, but it exists. The secret to how Pinot Grigio can make a pink wine lies, quite simply, in the skins: The Pinot Grigio grape has a dark skin, ranging in colour from blue to purple to red to grey.
Making Pinot Grigio rosé can thus be done using any of the techniques mentioned above. The Italians produce a skin-fermented rosé wine from Pinot Grigio known as Ramato, that is quite interesting indeed.
What is your favourite style of rosé wine? Tell us in the comments below.