Rosé winemaking: A tale of two methods
Rose wines are produced using one of two methods, either “Saignée” or “Whole-cluster press.”
Saignée (“sohn-yay”) is French for “bled” and refers to the act of “bleeding” the juice from a fermenter full of red grapes. Winemakers often will do this in order to reduce the volume of juice that is fermenting on skins as a way of concentrating the resulting colors and tannins in the finished wine. The juice that has been removed, or “bled” from the tank, is pink in color and can be fermented into wine by itself, producing a “rosé” wine. In this case, the rosé is essentially a by-product of a red wine. Winemakers are farmers first, after all, and nothing gets wasted.
In a whole-cluster press rosé wine, on the other hand, red wine grapes are harvested early, while the acidity is higher and before the skins begin to fully release their colors (and also tannins and other phenolics). These grapes are then pressed first, like a white wine. The resulting juice retains some, but not all, of the color from the skins, making it pink instead of a full, deep red or purple. Whole-cluster rosés are more expensive to produce but can obtain deeper, rounder, and richer flavors.