War of the Rosés | CookingDistrict.com

War of the Rosés

In recent years, the quality and sales of rosé wines have been on a steady uphill climb. Versatile, refreshing, and increasingly sophisticated, their popularity is easy to understand. But a recent EU proposal regarding the wine’s production—which would allow winemakers to blend red and white for a pink-hued rosé—has French producers, in particular, up in arms.
Traditionally, rosé wine is produced by letting the reddish skins, which impart the color to red wine, remain in contact with crushed grapes for only a few days; they are then removed before the wine ferments, leaving only a blush of color behind.

Another method, called sanginée, makes similar use of the red grape skins. When wineries try to produce a particularly deep red wine, they drain off a portion of the grape juice at an early stage, so that the skin-to-liquid ratio is higher. That removed wine, also with only a few days of grapeskin contact, can then be aged into a rosé.

Under newly proposed regulations, however, the EU would allow “blended” wines to be labeled as rosé—achieving that pink color by simply mixing red and white. Rosé purists view this as a travesty. “If you do this, why not allow people to make wine without any grapes at all?” complained winemaker Paul Jeune to the New York Times. If the measure passes in June, as is expected, the French government may pass its own resolution to ban blended rosés within the country.

Is the outrage justified? As Jonathan Ray points out in the London Telegraph, all sorts of wines are produced through blending without any protest. And the EU suggested that winemakers who choose not to blend use the term “traditional rosé” to distinguish their process. But this isn't an issue that the French—or anyone else—are likely to let fade quietly.


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