What is Rose Wine, Rose Wine Grapes, Rose Wine tasteThis article on Rose wine is part of our wine guides series.  Learn about rose wine taste, rose wine grape varieties and how rose is made.

How does Rosé Wine Get its Color?

Most of the time, Rosé wine is made from dark skinned grapes.  The difference between a regular red wine and a rosé is determined by how long a winemaker allows the grape solids to sit with the grape juice (also known as must) during fermentation.  Wines get their color by fermenting along side the grape skins (or pomace), their pips (seeds), and stems. The longer grape juice is allowed to soak and absorb color elements from these objects, the darker the wine will be.

What Grapes are Used to Make Rosé Wine?

Rosé wine can be made from any red grape varietal.  On occasion, Vintners will also mix red grapes with white grape varietals if they’re looking to concoct a sparkling Rosé.  Some of the more common grape varieties to produce Rosé wine include:

  • Pinot Noir
  • Grenache
  • Syrah
  • Mourvedre
  • Garnacha
  • Cabernet Sauvignon
  • Tempranillo

How is Rosé Wine Made?

Rosé is one of the oldest styles of wine.  Probably because the most basic method used to produce a Rosé is relatively simple.  Many vintners utilize the skin contact wine making method, (or limited maceration method) which involves crushing the grapes as you would with any other type of wine, and then removing the solid parts of the grape after 1 to 3 days, or until the wine is at the desired color.

Other, slightly less common wine making methods can be employed to produce Rosé wine.

Bleeding or Saignée (French)

Wine makers who are looking to add more structure to their Rosé will employ this method.  Some of the pink grape juice is removed from the fermentation tank at a very early stage, which leaves a much higher volume of grape solids within the must.  This increased weight causes the solids to ‘bleed’ naturally, increasing evidence of tannins and enhancing color.

Vin Gris Method

The Vin Gris method is similar to the limited maceration method with some important differences.  First, the grape varieties used in this wine making method must have a very light-colored hue to their skins.  Gamay, Cinsault and Grenache gris are usually the go-to varietals.  Second, after immediate pressing, maceration time, or the time the juice remains in contact with the grape solids, is non-existent or extremely short.

Rose wine taste, rose wine grape varieties, what is rose wine?Is Rosé Sweet or Dry?

Rosé can be either sweet or dry, though dry Rosé is more popular and widely produced.  The longer the sugar content in a wine is left to ferment into alcohol determines how sweet or dry a Rosé wine will be.

It’s Better to Drink Young Rosé

Unlike some other styles of wine which get better with age, Rosé for the most part tastes best while it’s young.  I recommend drinking your Rosé within one to three years after you buy it for the freshest taste.

Did you know?

Mixing red wine with white wine in order to soften color is frowned upon by many vinters?  It’s actually illegal in France.



  • Good read! I always thought I didn’t like roses and then I tried a dark variety from a Minnesota winery. I now seek it out whenever I’m in the area.

    • Greig

      @Alana I wasn’t always a rosé fan myself. It took some time, then as I started drinking them more in the summer months I realized how nice a chilled rosé could be when I was out on the water. Definitely keep us posted on that winery! Do you know what grape? Or if it was dry?

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