Flatiron’s Rose FAQs: our simple guide to the best pink wines

flatiron rose wine

Rosé myths and facts

What is rosé?

“Rosé” is French for “pink,” or “pinkish”—so rosé just means pinkish wine.

Why all the hype about rosé lately?

Cause it’s delicious and people love stuff that tastes great! Seriously.

Also, there’s a reverse-snob appeal. For a long time most of the rosé we got in America was gross: industrial wine made by mixing cheap white wine with worse red wine (more on this mixing business below) and adding sugar. That created a real snobbery against rosé.

But that’s not how they make the rosés we love. They never made them that way in France, Provence (rosés spiritual home), and it’s not how they make them here anymore either.

So when you drink rosé you get to drink something super-tasty and show that you aren’t the kind of person who’s taste is controlled by out-of-date snobbery. Win-win!

So how do you make good pink wine?
You pick red grapes, good red grapes from good terroirs! Then you press them to extract their juice, which is white (Really!) and then separate the juice from the dark skins before the skins can turn the wine red.

Some people call this “direct press” rosé.

So you don’t mix red wine and white wine?
Not normally for good wines. There’s one big exception, though: pink sparkling wines, like Rosé Champagne.

In Champagne they’re allowed to break all kinds of rules, and they get to break this one too! So lots of Rosé Champagnes are made by mixing a tiny bit of red wine into a white sparkler.

rose wine

I like dry rosés that are really light pink.
Yep, we know. Here are the two tricks to making wine like that:

1. Separate the grape juice from the dark skins ASAP, before the skins can give the juice more than that touch of color.
2. Pick your grapes a little earlier, when they have more fresh acidity and less sugar.

So to make a darker Rosé you just let the grapes and the juice mix for longer?
Pretty much.

And to make a red wine you just let the skin and the juice mix till skins have colored the wine completely red and made it tannic?

Any other techniques I should know about?
Well, there’s one other trick winemakers use to make a little rosé as a by-product of their red wine.

Let’s say you’ve got a tank full of red grapes and their juice hasn’t gotten fully dark yet. You can bleed off a little bit of that still pink juice and ferment it separately, as its own rosé. Of course, you can’t do very much wine like this or you’ll end up with a gross, over-extracted red wine.

Rosé as a by-product—that doesn’t sound as good…
Well, it does get looked down on in some circles. It definitely has advantages and disadvantages. The biggest difference is that the grapes you pick to red wine are usually riper than the grapes you pick for Rosé, so the flavors can be less pink-friendly.

But we’ve definitely had good examples of saignée rosé, and there are plenty of great rosés that use just a little bit of saignée juice in their blend.

Interesting, What do you call this “bleeding” technique?
It’s rosé so we get all fancy and call it by the French word for bled: “saignée.”

Is there a fancy-pants French term for a rose made by blending red wine with white?
Actually, yes: “taché.”

What’s the point of darker rosés, anyway?
They’re also delicious!

Maybe not for drinking while you’re sitting out in the sun or by the water. But if you think of them as really light red wines that you can chill down and serve with food, you’ll get the picture.

Just imagine bbq chicken with a bit of spice on a hot summer night. You want something cool and refreshing, but your super-pale, very subtle rosé may get obliterated by the dish. But a darker rosé with a touch more fruit will stand up to meal without becoming weighty, like some big, old winter-time red.

How can I learn more?
Drink the stuff!

Honestly, the best way to learn about wine is to drink some great wines. Here are [eight] great rosés that, in addition to being great drinking, make for a fascinating exploration of the world of Rosé.

Classic stuff – here are two examples of the classic, light dry stuff, one from Provence and the other from California.

Bedrock Cellars, Ode to Lulu
The most famous rosé in the world is probably Bandol, from producers like Tempier. Bedrock’s rose is an homage to Tempier’s legendary first lady, Lulu.

It’s made direct press from super-old-vine grapes (Mourvedre and Grenache) and is light and fresh and aromatic and yet, somehow, has depth of soul.

Pomponette Rosé
Karina and Guillaume Lefevre cultivate about 30 hectare of organic vineyards in beautiful, sunny Provence. Their biodynamic rosé is a classic: lean, dry and mineral with citrus notes and just a hint of wild strawberry. It’s clean, crisp and very pale, a perfect wine for the season.

Some technical details:

• A blend is 60% Grenache, 10% Syrah, 10% Vermentino, 15% Cinsault, 5% Mourvedre.
• The soils are clay and sandstone.

Darker rosés—Honest! Please don’t ignore the darker rosés: they are delicious and fascinating wines!

Muri Gries Lagrein
This is rosé made by monks in the Italian mountains near Austria. By monks! These guys know what they’re doing…

Some technical details:
• The organic vineyards are high up, nearly 900 feet above sea level
• Half the wine here is done direct press, but the other half is a saignée taken off the grapes after about 8 hours. Just eight hours and it gets that much color!

Chateau Simone Palette Rosé
This is one of the world’s greatest, off-the-beaten-path rosés. Palette is a tiny appellation in Provence, pretty much only occupied by the Rougier family’s little domaine. The wine is very different from its neighbors, Aix-en-Provence and Bandol.

Chateau Simone’s rosé is the darkest on this list, almost a light red. But it’s fresh and vibrant and delicious with all kinds of foods.

Some technical details:
• The 500-750 foot asl vineyards have old vines, limestone soils and are surrounded by a cool forest. This is a southern wine that preserves freshness!
• The grapes are 45% Grenache, 30% Mourvèdre, 5% Cinsault, 20% Syrah, Castet, Manosquin, Carignan, Muscat Noir & Blanc.
• Part of the wine was made direct press, but some of it was allowed to macerate for about eight days. No wonder it’s so dark!

The Bubbly Stuff. Here are some examples of absolutely incredible sparkling rosés made pink by blending a touch of red wine into white.

Raventos Rose de nit
This family domaine was behind the creation of the Spain’s “Cava” appellation. This is a gorgeous, refined, sparkler that is one of the best values in bubbly wine, year-in and year-out.

Some technical details:
• The farming is organic
• The white grapes (Macabeo, Xarel.lo and Parrellada) get color from an addition of just 7% of mourvedre—incidentally, the grape behind Bandol and Ode to Lulu

Laherte frère Ultradition Rosé
Another family domaine making spectacular sparkling wines, this one from old-vine Pinot Meunier, with a gorgeous balance of fruit, complexity, structure, freshness and straight up joy.

Some technical details:
This wine combines a bunch of the techniques. It’s a blend of:

• straight-up white champagne (60%)
• direct press pink wine (30%) and
• actual red wine.

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