On pink wine

Prompted by a friendly discussion at a recent wine circle, on the making of a pink, or rosé, wine, here are some definitive answers, to at least get things straight in my mind, again.

A pink wine can be created in 3 ways, the first 2 involve maceration of crushed black grapes for a period of typically 2-24 hours, the third the blending of still white with a small amount of still red wine.

  1. crushing with a short maceration [3] – this is the most common method, and is dedicated to making a pale pink wine. Black grapes are crushed, with or without prior de-stemming. The skins and juice (aka must) are then left macerating together at 16-20C, for a short period of time, gauged by experience, to achieve a particular hue. The must is then gently pressed (to avoid the extraction of most if not almost all tannins), and the juice sent to fermentation. Alternatively, free run may be separated from press juice, for subsequent blending, and different lots may be blended to make a colour/sensory character correction. The shortest maceration periods are used to make vin gris [1], a very pale pink wine, and, with just direct gentle pressing (without prior crushing), and no maceration at all, one arrives at a perfectly clear juice for eg a blanc de noir(s) champagne base wine.
  2. maceration and saignée – essentially a byproduct of a red wine making cycle, where lightly coloured juice is bled off early, during colour extractive maceration at typically  16-20C, to be fermented as pink wine. The length of maceration depends on the variety specific skin colouring available, extractability, and hue required. The bulk remaining, for red wine production, has a lower skin to juice ratio, and so as maceration continues, goes on to develop a deeper hue (altogether more concentrated – tannin, hue, acidity, aroma and flavour compounds) than would otherwise have been the case. This is augmented during the ensuing alcoholic fermentation, since alcohol acts as a solvent. Pink wine made using this method was historically sold off cheaply, nowadays it is a serious endeavor, with prices to match. This method is approved for the production of champagne base wine, and some do use it.
  3. the addition of red to white wine, do not try it the other way around. In the EU this is only legal in Champagne.


  1. Many different shades of rose wine. Has a colour guide for some varieties. [online] accessed 31/01/18.
  2. Rose making process. [online] accessed 31/01/18.
  3. Conseil Interprofessionnel des Vins de Provence (CIVP). [online] accessed 31/01/18.

Last edited 01/02/18

About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
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