MAKING ROSÉ WINES
When the red grapes are harvested, the winemaker's first task is to perform the stripping – separating the grapes from the stems and stalks. The fruit is then crushed, freeing up the pulp, the skin, the seeds and the juices, which are collectively referred to as the must. The must will then macerate in a vat for anywhere from 2 to 20 hours at a controlled temperature between 16 and 20°C. This is when the pigments and aromas from the skins will blend in with the rest. The must is then pressed to separate the solid part – the pomace (skin, seeds) – from the juice. The juice is then allowed to ferment alone at a low temperature (18 to 20°C) to preserve the maximum amount of aroma. Unlike red wines, it is this short maceration period in contact with the skins that give rosé wines their unique colors and flavors. Another technique, direct pressing, may also be used. In this case, direct pressing is performed on full bunches or after stripping and puncturing the skins. The clear juice is then fermented immediately.
The most important thing to keep in mind is that the natural pigments that provide wines with their color are concentrated in the skin of red grapes (the skins of white grapes and the pulp of most grapes – both red and white – do not have any color).
The color of a Rosé wine will therefore depend on the duration and temperature of the contact between the grape juice, which is nearly colorless, and the skins in the vat. This is known as the maceration time.
Rosé wines are undoubtedly the most delicate and difficult to make. The secret behind their color, aromas and elegance depends entirely on these precious few hours.
Rosés from Provence are known for their light colors and pale, limpid robes.
A survey recently conducted by the CIVP showed that consumers prefer lighter colors, while very few like dark-colored rosés. These same light colors that consumers are looking for are those found in the Rosés of Provence.