Bleeding

Definition - What does Bleeding mean?

Bleeding, also known as the “saignée method”, is one of four winemaking methods for making rosé and a way for winemakers to concentrate the flavor in red wine. The process involves draining the juice from the must so that the phenolics, color and flavors are muted in the juice (which becomes rosé) and concentrated in the must (which becomes red wine). The resulting red wine has more intense characteristics. The juice that runs off is light or bright pink.

WineFrog explains Bleeding

Originally the bleeding method was only used to make highly concentrated red wines, with the juices being tossed out or used to top off red wine batches that are low or sold as affordable rosés. Over the years, it has evolved into the best method to produce quality rosés.

The Process

Bleeding occurs just after maceration is complete. The juice and must is left in a vat to settle; the weight of the skins and must pushes the juice down through a drain in the bottom of the vat. The must and the juice that is bled off will be treated separately and follow the usual winemaking process.

Removing juice from the must of a red wine has a similar effect to reducing the amount of water you use when you’re making juice from concentrate – the flavor is bolder and more intense. In the case of red wines, the tannins, color and aroma are stronger than in a red wine made without bleeding the juice first.

Depending on how dark they want their rosé, the length of time the wine is left macerating will be short (light rosé) or long (dark, flavorful rosé). Winemakers like this process of making rosés because it provides a truer finished product. Historically, prior to the bleeding, the most popular rosé production method was blending red wine with white. The bleeding method allows winemakers to make rosés from one grape variety instead of two.

Popularity

Bleeding has a long history of use in Bordeaux and Burgundy though it wasn’t always used for rosés. Winemakers used to pour the juice that was bled off down the drain. Another popular use for the extra juice is to apply it towards storage methods, by using it to top off wine barrels and tanks to fill the headspace, known as the ullage, during storage.

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