Colour plays a big role throughout a wine’s journey from grape to glass. In the vineyard, the ability to judge the ripeness of the grape by its colour as well as the colour of its seeds is a valuable skill.
Once the grapes are harvested the winemaker goes to great lengths to protect not only the delicate flavours but also the colour of the new wine, after careful colour extraction from the skins.
Once the wine is made, bottled, bought by an excited wine lover and finally poured into a clear, polished wineglass (hopefully), it is the wine’s colour that first catches the attention of the drinker. At this point colour reveals a lot about the wine, for instance its age. Young red wines tend to be much darker and deeper with a purple tinge. As white and red wine age over the years its colour will change until, years later, a red and a white wine would have reached almost the same dull, brownish hue.
But it is the Rosé wines who took the nuances of colour in winemaking and wine appreciation, to the next level.
Rosé wines are probably the most underrated wine style out there, but when it comes to colour it definitely gets the most attention. For this reason, you will very seldomly find a Rosé in anything else than a clear bottle, showing off its unique shade of pink. Through the years, as trends dictated, winemakers have had their work cut out for them, getting the wine to the desired colour.
Winemakers generally follow one of three methods of Rosé winemaking.
Maceration Method After red grapes are crushed the juice and the skins are left to macerate, for anything from two hours to a day, in order for the juice to extract colour from the skins. When the winemaker is happy with the colour, he separates the juice from the skins and the process continues as with white wine making.
Saignée Method Sometimes, when making a red wine, the winemaker will allow a portion of the grape juice to bleed off during the initial crushing of the fresh grapes. This allows for a more concentrated red wine. The section of juice which was “bled off” (Saigneé in French) becomes a Rosé wine.
Blending Method As the name suggests, this method utilizes the art of blending. Sometimes a small percentage of red wine is blended with white wine until the desired colour and flavour is reached. Blending can also be done before fermentation, as per the Provençal-style.
It is International Rosé Day on Friday. Be part of the action by enjoying your favourite Rosé (or even better, try one you have never tasted before) and sharing your experience with us on social media.
Some of our favourite Rosé wines currently on our shelves:
Wijnskool Bartho Eksteen Blom 2020 Provençal-style dry rosé made from Grenache, Shiraz, Mourvèdre and Viognier. Blom is unique in the South African context in that it was blended in the juice-stage. Fermenting the juice together as a unit secures a perfect integration between the different varieties.
Baleia Deborah 2019 An exotic Rosé with a bouquet of watermelon and white spice with lingering flavours of strawberry cheesecake and light spice on the palate.
Sijn Saignée 2015 Complex rose petal & red fruit on the nose translate to flavours of red berries and Macadamia nuts on the palate. Excellent with delicate curries and other spicy food as well as with red meat on a hot day, when a heavier red wine just won’t do.
Delaire Graff Cabernet Franc Rosé 2020 Made from 100% Cabernet Franc, this unique Rosé displays flavours of ripe strawberries, cassis and candyfloss with dark red berries and cream on the mid palate and a juicy, crisp and dry finish.
Force Majeure Cinsault Rosé 2015 The Force Majeure Rosé is made with the same philosophy as all the Mother Rock wines: only the best quality old-vine fruit sourced from respected growers in the Swartland, slowly whole-bunch pressed and vinified without any additives. The result is fresh and pure, food-friendly and drinkable, and it doesn’t hurt that the colour is lovely too.
Gabriëlskloof Rosebud 2019 Expect luscious fruit on the nose – watermelon, papaya and strawberry. The palate is lightweight and summery with a naturally fresh finish.
Hermanuspietersfontein Bloos 2020 Playfully dubbed ‘the shy girl with long legs’ – with no reason to be shy. The only South African Premium Rosé comprising all five Bordeaux varietals, she shows an abundance of fresh fruit, finesse and layered complexity.
Waterkloof Cape Coral Mourvèdre Rosé 2019 A delightfully pale coloured rosé. Delicate red berry aromas especially pomegranate and raspberries combined with a flinty note are prominent on the nose. The palate shows finesse and elegance with lingering fresh acidity on the aftertaste, Traditionally the wine is served chilled on its own, but also marries well with spicy, tuna-based sushi.