Dan’s Rosé Soirée Countdown: How to Make Rosé

wine barrel
Photo: Jordan Rusev/123rf

Are you starting summer right? If so, we’ll see you at Dan’s Rosé Soirée Presented by Porsche. It is the Hamptons summer kickoff event, after all. The soirée, held at the Southampton Arts Center in Southampton on Sunday, May 28, will include craft cocktails and beer, chef tastings and, of course, rosé—North Fork rosé, South Fork rosé, from-around-the-world rosé—in all, 30 different rosés.

It’s widely believed that many of the earliest red wines made were much closer in color to what we consider rosé today. Even the Greeks and Romans would have slurped down refreshing glasses of the pink stuff. And not only because their water sources were often unclean, prompting them to drink wine like they were paid to do so, or because they mixed wine into their foul tasting water to make it more palatable. The simple reason their wine was pink was due to their winemaking techniques, which were, understandably, not as advanced as ours are some 2,000 years later. So, how are the expertly manicured glasses of rosé you’re sure to enjoy at Dan’s Rosé Soirée made? There’s more than one method when it comes to rosé production.

The first, most common, method is called maceration. This is used both in Long Island rosés and in wines from regions such as Provence and Languedoc-Roussillon in France, where rosé is just as popular as red or white wine. To macerate literally means to soften or to become softened by soaking in a liquid. In winemaking, it’s the process of soaking crushed grapes in a must—the unfermented juice containing skin, seeds and stems—in order to extract color, aroma and tannins. In a red wine, the grapes soak in this way for a long time. That’s how the wine gets its red color, as the natural pigments are concentrated in the skin. When making a rosé, the must is pressed, separating solids and liquids, after a significantly shorter period of time, and sometimes after as little as two hours. The juice then ferments on its own at a low temperature in order to preserve the maximum amount of aroma. This is how reds become reds; and the lack of maceration is what makes whites white.

Another common method is pressing. This method is used by the majority of rosé makers in Provence and by Long Island wineries, including Jamesport Vineyards. “I press it all manually, observing the color and taste,” says Jamesport Vineyard winemaker Dean Babiar. This method yields a very light rosé as the skins are in contact with juice for a very short time before being delivered to the fermentation tanks.

More common in regions like Napa or Sonoma where fine red wines are produced is the saignée method. Saignée, for our non-Franophone readers, is French for “bleeding.” In this method, juice is extracted, or bled, during the first few hours of wine production, limiting the contact time between juice and must. The extracted juice is put into a new vat to ferment separately and voila, rosé. This method also benefits the reds. By bleeding the juice, its volume in the must is reduced, thus concentrating the red wine’s intensity. Bleeding is also used to impart more tannin and color to a red.

A fourth method, blending, is actually illegal in France, except in the Champagne region, where Ruinart Champagne Rosé is produced. This one is simple: you just mix a little bit of red wine into a vat of white. You could even do this at home if you find yourself plum out of rosé and too tipsy to go out and get more. Ingredients: Chardonnay and Pinot Noir; instructions: mix a maximum of one part Pinot to 20 parts Chardonnay. You now have homemade rosé, though this is not a recommended method and you should probably just stock up so you never run out. Or call Bottle Hampton—they deliver.

Find the latest info on all of Dan’s Taste of Summer events this summer—including Dan’s Rosé Soirée Presented by Porsche, the official kickoff event of summer in the Hamptons on Memorial Day Weekend, Sunday, May 28 at The Southampton Arts Center, 25 Jobs Lane, Southampton—at DansTasteofSummer.com.

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