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Friday, June 13, 2014

Take Time to Smell the Rosés

I’ve professed my love affair with dry rosés numerous times on this Blog.  To me they are the quintessential summer aperitif.  But, did you know there are two very different ways to make a rosé?  Let me explain.

The first method is made by simply mixing a white wine with red wine.  For all of you horrified at the thought, chill!  In many parts of France this is a common method.  For example, in Champagne it is quite typical to blend Pinot Noir with Chardonnay.  In the Rhone Valley, mixing red with white is often the norm.  The southern part of the Rhone is home to the illustrious Chateauneuf du Pape.  Red and white grape varietals are allowed in both the reds of Chateauneuf du Pape, as well as the white wines of the region. 

The southern Rhone is also home to the fabulous rosés of Provence.  While Provencal rosé is often made by mixing together red and white wines, it can also be made by the second method, saignée.  Pronouced “sen-yay,” this technique is named after the French work for “bleeding.”   In the saignée method, very young red wine juice that is only pink-tinged is removed from the vat early in the fermentation process.  This pale grape juice is then separately fermented to produce rosé.  In effect, the rosé is “bled” off from the infant red wine, thus the name.

There are arguments for which method produces the best rosé but the proof will be in your glass.   Take some time to smell (and taste) the plethora of available rosés this summer…and decide for yourself.

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