A Rosé is a wine that has some of the color typical of a red wine but only enough to turn it pink, which can range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and winemaking techniques. There are three major ways to produce Rosé wines: skin contact, saignee and blending.
Skin contact When Rosé wine is the primary product, it is produced with the skin-contact method. Black-skinned grapes are crushed, and the skins are allowed to remain in contact with the juice for a short period of time, typically one to three days. The must is then pressed and the skins are discarded rather than left in contact through fermentation (as with red wine making). The skins contain much of the astringent tannin and other compounds, thereby leaving the structure more similar to a white wine. The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the color of the final wine.
Saignee Rosé wine can be produced as a by-product of red wine fermentation using a technique known as Saignee (from the French for bleeding). When a winemaker desires to impart more tannin and color to a red wine, some of the pink juice from the must can be removed at an early stage. The red wine remaining in the vats is intensified as a result of the bleeding because the volume of juice in the must is reduced, and the must involved in the maceration is concentrated. The pink juice that is removed can be fermented separately to produce Rosé.
Blending In other parts of the world, blending, the simple mixing of red wine to a white wine to impart color, is uncommon. This method is discouraged in most wine-growing regions, especially in France, where it is forbidden by law, except for Champagne; however, even in Champagne, several high-end producers do not use this method but rather the saignee method.
Rosé wines can be made still, semi-sparkling or sparkling.
After World War II, there was a fashion for medium-sweet Rosés for mass-market consumption, the classic examples being the Portuguese Mateus Rosé and the American "blush" wines of the 1970s. However, the pendulum now seems to be swinging back towards a drier "bigger" style. In France, the current commercial trend of the Rose wine market is oriented toward a light (i.e., not tannic, rather light-colored), happy, fresh (summer-related) and young (less than a year old) wine.
The main region of production of Rosé wine is Provence but, following the fashion of this kind of easy-selling wine, other wine-growing regions are producing their own Rosés to get their share of the market. Vin Gris is a French name for pale Rosés made with Pinot Noir and, in Alsace, Rosé is made out of Pinot Noir d'Alsace. In Burgundy, Marsannay Rosé is produced in the Cote de Nuits subregion of Burgundy. In Champagne, Champagne can be made by blending a small amount of red wine into the must or, alternatively, using the saignee technique.
In Spain, Garnacha (Grenache) is used in the pale-colored rosados, which tend to be more colored than Rosé wines made in France. In Portugal, Mateus is a brand of medium-sweet frizzante Rosé wine.