May is the perfect month to start storing your rosé in the fridge for easy access. The sun is shining, the snow is (hopefully) behind us for the year, and the garage doors are opening at Market Wines. So start making those summer salads and uncovering your patio furniture—It’s rosé season! 

Have you ever wondered about the secrets to making the prettiest wine in the market? Rosé can seem simple and fun to the untrained eye, but this flirty wine has some serious personality. Let’s explore the ‘fun aunt’ of wines while we talk winemaking, colour, famous regions, and upcoming rosé events.

At Market Wines, we make quality wines from small family producers accessible and affordable, because we care about what you drink and where it comes from. Though Calgary isn’t the most ideal wine growing region, we love to support the little guys with good values from around the world. We host a variety of events, from sit-down tastings to festivals for an enjoyable and informative date-night, celebration, or just for fun. We’re all about sharing stories at Market Wines, and we love to be a part of your story through your family dinners, quality time with friends, celebrations, or casual Tuesday nights. Our favourite part of the job is finding you the perfect wine for whatever the occasion, or lack thereof! 


What is Rosé?

We all know and love the pink wine we see on the shelves, but what is it really? It is all sweet? What grapes go into rosé? This fun and pretty wine actually has a lot of depth to it, and no, it is definitely not always sweet. This patio pounding wine is perfect for spring and summer, and can be anything from bursting with blossom scents and ripe juicy red berries, to strawberries and cream perfect for a picnic. 

There are a few special ways to make wine the colour of cotton candy at the fair. These particular processes include direct pressing, short maceration, saignée, and blending. Some of these are even legally regulated!


Direct Pressing

The colour of a wine directly comes from the skins of the grape during winemaking. The grape skins contain all of the colour pigment that you see in all wines that have been fermented with the grape skins in the juice for any period of time. There are very few exceptions where the juice itself of a grape is pigmented, but it is rare. Most rosés get their colour from the skins of black grapes. Pink grapes don’t always make pink wine. There are some grape varieties, such as Pinot Gris, that have pink or gray skins. With time on the skins, the juice can develop a richer colour from these grapes, but it’s not quite that simple to make all rosé wine.

Using the direct pressing process, black grapes are pressed in a machine to extract the juice inside and are swiftly removed from the skins after pressing. Since there is very little contact with the back grape skins, this process results in rosés that are light in both flavour and colour. These rosés are typically floral, crisp, dry, and have subtle citrus and tart berry flavours.

Villa Des Anges 2021 Rose


Short Maceration

Short maceration is similar to direct pressing, where the black grapes are crushed, but instead of removing the skins right away, the skins are left to relax and decompress in the juice bath. Because the skins spend more time in the juice, more flavour and colour are extracted from the skins. This process results in rosés that are deeper in colour and have more prominent berry and fruit flavours.

Domaine Girard 2022 Garriguette Rosé


Saignée 

The Saignée method of producing rosé sounds a little gruesome. The French word ‘saignée’ means ‘to bleed,’ but I promise no winemakers were harmed during the making of these rosé wines. During the red winemaking process, winemakers will ‘bleed off’ some of the juice that has seen contact with the black grape skins before the maceration is complete for the red wine. The resulting rosés are considered a by-product of red wine making, but don’t worry, we appreciate these rosés as they are—Beautiful and delicious. 


Blending

Blending white and red wine to make rosé can be pretty controversial—so controversial that it is banned and illegal in some wine regions. This is actually the least common practice in rosé winemaking, but can offer greater variety and opportunities for experimentation. Blending is often seen in the New World regions, but one very famous region that blends red and white wines to make rosé is Champagne. 

Maison Rosier NV Brut Crémant De Limoux Rosé


Rosé Colour

Rosé can be evaluated by its colour, just like red and white wines. Rosés have their very own set of colour characteristics that cover the range of pinks you may see in your glass.

For a rosé to be classified as ‘pink,’ it must have a pure pink colour at the core. Pink rosés can also display a hint of purple, but are still considered to be pink.

Rosé can also be classified as ‘salmon.’ This name can be used when a pink rosé has a hint of orange in it, but pink is still the dominant shade.

With an ‘orange’ rosé, orange is the dominant colour in the wine. Some orange wines aren’t classified as rosés, and are just simply labeled as ‘orange wine.’ Though orange wine may have its own name, these wines are made using similar processes to a more traditional rosé. An orange wine is made by fermenting the wine on skins of white wine grapes, which can give it the unique orange colour and flavours such as dried orange rind, bruised apple, and nuts.

 

Famous Rose Styles

Provence

The Provence wine region is located in South Eastern France. As the first wine region in France,  Provence has a rich history with wine and has become famous for its light and crisp pink wines. Provence is also home to the world’s only Rosé Research Institute. If this blog stops being updated, just know you’ll find me studying at the Centre de Recherche et d’Expérimentation sur le Vin Rosé. The grapes most often used to make rosé in Provence are Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The wines from Provence are typically pale pink with floral and summer berry characteristics. These wines are most often dry and have medium levels of alcohol, making them fabulous food pairing wines with white meat, seafood, or summer salads. Rosés from Provence are made using the direct pressing style, only allowing the juice to macerate on the skins for very short periods of time, sometimes only a few hours. The juice is then fermented at cool temperatures to guard the floral and berry aromas for which the Provence rosé is famous. 

 

Tavel

Picture a rosé wine that has put on a snappy blazer and fancy shoes, and you’ll get the wines from Tavel. Tavel is a town located in the Southern Rhone in France and is famous for only producing dry rosé wines. Tavel wines are made from Grenache, Syrah, and Clairette grapes, and unlike many styles of rosé, are suitable for long term aging. Tavel rosés are typically deeper in colour because the skins spend a bit more time in the juice during maceration. These wines often see 24 to 28 hours of skin maceration at cool temperatures, resulting in a deep pink with possible purple hues. The depth of colour also means the aroma and flavour characteristics of these wines can be a bit more complex than Provence wines. Tavel rosés are in the process of becoming very trendy, for good reason. Snatch up a Tavel rosé while you can!

 

Wine Tasting Events

Want to get up close and personal with some different rosé styles? Join us at Market Wines South for “Rosé Soirée” on Saturday, May 11. This festival is packed with pink wines from around the world—from sparkling to still, pink to orange. Market Wines West is hosting “Gimme More Rosé” on Friday, May 24, a seated tasting with delicious charcuterie snacks and endless rosé knowledge. Market Wines University District is offering a one hour “Think Pink” session from either 2:00 to 3:00 p.m. or 4:00 to 5:00 p.m. in their upstairs tasting room on Saturday May 4 for a crash course on rosé !

Stop by any of our three locations to peruse the Rosé Wall and find the perfect wine to pair with a patio. You can find a vast variety of pink wines at each store and sample some of these beauties on the tasting bar as the sun starts to warm up the city. Cheers!