La vie with Rosé


Rosé is arguably the hottest growing wine category for the past couple of years, at least in this country, and dare I say – finally!

In many parts of the world this type of wine isn’t just another “summer” wine but rather a legitimate, year-round wine, enjoyed by both genders and a fourth category of wine on par with sparkling, white and red.

So, many of us have found one, or four, of our favorite rosés by now, but what is rosé anyway and how did it even come about?

Rosé happens when the skins of red grapes touch wine for only a short time, which may answer the question – Where does the color of wine come from?

I’ve had this conversion with some of you in our dining room and yes, wine color does indeed come from the skin of the grapes.

Red wines ferment for weeks at a time on red grape skins, many of them pulling color and tannins in the process – think of a full body Cabernet Sauvignon.

The longer you let the skins come in contact with the juice, the more you’re pulling tannin and color (in the case of red skin grapes, that is).

Rosé wines are stained red for just a few hours which allows for the various hues of pink we see in them.

The winemaker has complete control over the color of the wine, and removes the red grape skins (the source of the red pigment) when the wine reaches the perfect color.

As you can imagine, nearly any red wine grape varietals (from Cabernet Sauvignon to Syrah) can be used to make rosé wine, however there are several grapes preferred for rosé. Some of the most common ones are Cinsault, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Grenache.

So, now you may be asking – How is rosé made and is it any different than regular wine? Well, that’s sort of a three-part answer.

There are 3 main ways to make our pink wine.

Maceration Method

The maceration method takes place when red wine grapes are let to rest, or macerate, in the juice for a period of time. Following this, the entire batch of juice is finished into rosé wine.

The maceration method is probably the most common type of rosé wine-making method and is used in regions like Provence, France where rosé is as important as red or white wine.

Saignée or “Bleed” Method 

The Saignée (“San-yay”) method works during the first few hours of making a red wine, as some of the juice is bled off and put into a new vat to make rosé.

This method is very common in wine regions that make fine red wines such as Napa/Sonoma or Bordeaux. Bleeding off the juice not only produces a lovely rosé but it also concentrates the intensity of the red wines. Saignée wines are pretty rare, due to the production method and often will make up only about 10% or less, of a winery’s production.

Blending Method

 The blending method involves, well, blending red wine to a vat of white wine to make rosé. It doesn’t take much red wine to dye a white wine pink, so usually these wines will have up to 5% or so, of a red wine added. This method is very uncommon with still rosé wines but happens much more in sparkling wine regions such as Champagne.

So now that we all have a better understanding of how our favorite summer wines are made, come join us at Café Escadrille for some delicious, crisp, refreshing rosé on the patio or at the bar and feel free to say hello if I haven’t met you yet.

Until next time…


WineBrent LelandWine, rose