Disregarded for a long time, unappreciated and even shunned by wine snobs favoring red and white wine, the rosé wine story has evolved dramatically.

Today, the pink drink is no longer considered banal; instead, it is seen as the perfect wine for every occasion, becoming a worldwide hit over the years.

How Rosé Gets Its Color

Similar to red wine, rosé gets it color from the skin of the red grapes used for making the wine. The vinification technique, however, is different. The almost colorless grape juice must not remain in contact with the pigmented skin of the grapes for a long time.

Skin contact is critical for making rosé wine, a factor of utmost importance for successful wine.

How Rosé is Made

Some wine drinkers prefer dry rose wine made predominantly in old world countries such as Provence in France while others go for the sweeter version produced in California. Over the years, winemakers worldwide have mastered the art of vinification, and there’s a rosé style for everyone.

Like all excellent wines making rosé starts in the vineyard for it is the quality and type of red grapes that will determine the flavor of the wine.

In Provence, home to a multitude of grape varieties and some of the best rose wines, a lot of vineyards owners harvest their fully ripe grapes in the middle of the night or early morning. They do this not only because the temperatures are more bearable for those picking the fruit, but their main reason; they say is that daytime temperatures can significantly raise the sugar levels of the grape.

Washing the grapes is the first step to making the wine. Some winemakers remove the stems before crushing the grapes to obtain the must - a combination of juice, pulp, seeds and skin.

Methods for Making Rosé Wine

There are three methods used for the production of rosé wine, direct pressing, maceration and bleeding and blending.

Direct Pressing

The grapes once crushed, are pressed immediately but gently to release the juice. This method of direct pressing used by many winemakers in Provence results in a light-colored Rosé, one with just a touch of color due to the short time the dark skins stay in contact with the clear juice. Afterward, the wine is ready for fermentation.

Maceration and Bleeding

This second technique takes longer. The winemaker allows the crushed grapes to soak or macerate in a tank for a period respecting the required controlled temperatures.

As the skins and juice mix, the skins release their pigments and aromas. Winemaking skills are vital here as the winemaker has to get the maceration time and color just right before opening the filter at the bottom of the tank to remove or bleed some of the wine from the tank. This method is often referred to as the saignée (the French word for bleeding) method, one that produces a more intense color because of the several hours of skin contact maceration. The wine is now ready for the fermentation phase.


There is a third method of making rosé that should be mentioned. Blending red and white wine to make rosé wine might not be recognized for PDO wines in France, but, the practice does exist in some New World countries.

Blending for Champagne, however, is recognized in France, a little red added to the white wine is the traditional method for making the much-appreciated rosé champagne. The famous Champagne makers in France, the house of Clicquot claim:

“Madame Clicquot created the first blended Rosé in 1818 by adding some red wine to Yellow Label Champagne. The result was Veuve Clicquot Rosé, a fruity and full-bodied expression of the Veuve Clicquot style.”

After the process is complete, fermentation usually lasts a couple of days in carefully controlled tanks made of stainless steel or wood.

As rosé wine continues to be trendy, convivial and festive, winemakers are successfully rising to the challenge, incorporating more winemaking styles. And with food culture also on the rise, the success for rosé wine is unmistakable.