Saturday, July 26, 2008

Drink Pink: The Good, the Bad & the Difference (Part 1)

Once upon a time in America, not so long ago, holding a glass of wine that could be mistaken for White Zinfandel was considered a social death sentence. Drinking pink was a clear admission that you knew nothing about wine, or worse…that you had lousy taste in wine. In recent years, the newspapers and the magazines started in on rosé wines, and every summer there were suggestions from those in-the-know that, perhaps, drinking pink was no longer so uncool. Thank goodness we’ve turned a corner on this (much to the amazement of the French, who have long known the pleasures of rosé). In fact, pink wine is becoming the new symbol of hipness.

A rosé wine has some of the color typical of a red wine, but only enough to turn it pink. The colors can range from a pale salmon, deep rust, rose-petal pink to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques.

How rosé is made:

1. Skin contact – red-skinned grapes are crushed and the skins are left in contact with the juice for a short period, from a few hours to a few days. The grapes are then pressed and the skins discarded, rather than left in contact during fermentation(as with red wine making). The longer that the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the color of the wine.

2. Saignée – or bleeding, is used when the winemaker desires to impart more tannin and color to a red wine, and removes some pink juice from the unfermented juice at an early stage, in a process known as “bleeding the vats”. The juice is then fermented separately, producing the rosé as a by-product of the red wine.

3. Blending – not a commonly used method, the simple mixing of red wine to a white to impart color, This method is discouraged in most wine growing regions now (except for Champagne). Even in Champagne, many producers do not use this method.

More later….

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