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Rosé

vin rosé (F)
rosado (ES)
rosado (PO)
rosé (GB)
roséwijn (N)
rosato, cerasuolo, chiaretto (I)

Denotes a type of wine with a pale, light red colour. The colour can range from salmon (light red) to cherry red (dark), depending on the intensity of contact with the skins of the grapes. According to EU regulations, the designation rosé is reserved for wines made exclusively from red wine grapes. A blend or cuvée of different red wine varieties is permitted. The countries themselves determine which are considered red wine varieties or quality wine grape varieties, and if necessary also the colour and alcohol content. A rosé is only permitted for country wines and quality wines with indication of grape variety and vintage. However, there are also some white wine varieties with red berry skins such as Red Muscat Blanc, Gewürztraminer (Red Traminer) or Pinot Gris, as well as Cereza and other Criolla varieties in South America, which produce a more or less reddish wine. However, wines made from such white wine varieties are not considered rosé in the EU.

Rosé - Weintypen Rotwein, Rosé, Orange Wine, Weißwein in Gläsern

Production rules

In June 2009, following strong protests by some winegrowers' associations, the responsible EU Commission rejected a draft law that would have allowed rosé wine to be produced by simply blending red and white wine. This was intended to eliminate the competitive disadvantage compared to the blending of red and white wines permitted outside the EU in order to produce the simplest rosé wines. Such blending of red and white is only permitted for the lowest quality category of wine.

For the Slovenian PTP wine Cviček however a special regulation was obtained. As a further exception, blending is also permitted for the production of sparkling wine. For the wine types popular in Germany, Badisch Rotgold, Rotling, Schieler and Schillerwein, white and red wine grapes or their mashes are blended or processed. According to the regulations these may not be called rosé.

In some wine-growing regions, white grapes are also permitted in the production of red wine with a corresponding derogation, for example Châteauneuf-du-Pape and Côte Rôtie in France and Chianti in Italy. Here, the grapes are fermented together by means of so-called mixed fermentation. However, this is not a rosé wine. This also applies to the Orange Wine (Natural Wine, Raw Wine), which has become very popular in recent years and is usually yellowish-red (orange) in colour.

country-specific descriptions

There are many country-specific names for rosé wines; some with protected names and/or exceptions. The production methods vary, but they are mostly produced without or with a relatively short maceration period, so that the berries give off little colour and produce more or less light red wines. In addition, however, there are many light red wines that could be mistaken for rosé wines in terms of appearance and taste. The classification to reddish white wine, real rosé wine and light red wine can be clearly determined according to EU wine law (see above). A list of all light red wine types (J = rosé according to EU regulation, N = no rosé, ? = depending on used grape varieties and type of vinification):

  • Badisch Rotgold (N): light red wine, red and white wine grapes - Germany
  • Blanc de blancs (N): white wine sparkling wine made from white grapes - mainly France
  • Blanc de noirs (?): light wine/sparkling wine made from red grapes - mainly France
  • Bleichert (J): old, no longer permitted name for rosé - Germany
  • Blush (?): light red wine - California (e.g. White Zinfandel) or generally overseas
  • Cerasuolo (J): light rosato - Italy
  • Chiaretto (J): dark Rosato - Italy
  • Clairet, Claret (?): dark rosé or light red wine - England, France/Bordeaux
  • Cviček (N): Blending of white wine and red wine - Slovenia
  • Gleich'presst, Gleich'presst (J): light rosé - Austria
  • Gris de gris (N): light red wine from grey/red berry grapes - France
  • Klarett, Klaret (J): Designation for Rosé - Austria, Czech Republic
  • Kokkineli (J): Rosé version of the Retsina - Greece
  • Kretzer, Krätzer, Höpfwein (J): light Rosato - South Tyrol
  • Labín (J): rosé - in the area Mělnická in the Czech Republic
  • Occhio di Pernice (J): salmon-red rosé, e.g. Vin Santo Rosé - Italy
  • Oeil de perdrix, partridge eye (J): salmon red rosé - Switzerland
  • Opolo, Opol (J): Rosé - Croatia
  • Orange Wine (N): orange wine, no official wine type - many countries
  • Rosado (J): generic name for rosé - Argentina, Chile, Portugal, Spain
  • Rosato (J): generic name for rosé - Italy
  • Rotling (N): light red wine, red and white wine grapes - Germany
  • Roze, Rozé (J): generic name for rosé - Bulgaria, Croatia, Romania, Hungary
  • Ryšák, Růžák (?): light red wine from blending of grapes or must - Czech Republic
  • Schieler (N): light red wine, red and white wine grapes - Germany
  • Schilcher (J): Rosé - Austria/Styria
  • Schiller (N): light red wine, red and white wine grapes - Switzerland
  • Schillerwein (N): light red wine, red and white wine grapes - Germany
  • Siller (J): dark rosé - Hungary
  • Sweetprint, sweet print, pressé doux (J): light rosé - Switzerland
  • Vin gris (J): light rosé - France
  • Weißherbst (J): light rosé produced according to special rules - Germany

Production process

In terms of production, a rosé is actually much closer to white wine than to red wine. It is significantly less enriched with anthocyanins (colouring agents), tannins and aromatic substances than a red wine. In detail, however, there are differences in colour and taste between the individual rosé types, mainly due to the grape varieties used and the different lengths of maceration. The most important five production methods are:

1) In the most common method, the dark grapes are treated exactly as if they were white. On its way through the grape mill, the grape must is slightly stained by the colouring of the grape skins; however, unlike red wine, there is no maceration (no leaving on the mash). After pressing, the reddish must is then processed further like a white wine. This produces very light rosé wines.

2) In the second method, the grapes are first pressed after a two to three day maceration period and then the grape must is further processed, which usually produces significantly darker and more intense rosé wines.

3) The third method is the so-called "bleeding", French Saignée. The grapes are crushed, but not pressed. However, before the must can take on a darker red colour, a part is drained off after 12 to 48 hours or simply obtained by "draining". The rest of the must is processed as red wine, which is more concentrated and has a stronger colour due to this process. The rosé is a by-product.

4) In a fourth method, a red wine is fined (mainly by means of agents such as PVPP and activated carbon) to remove tannins and thereby lighten it.

5) The wine known as Blanc de noirs ("white from black") is a wine made from red grapes and lightly pressed, which is used particularly for champagne and sparkling wine. It can be light (white) or slightly reddish in colour; if it is darker, it is called taché. In Germany, "Blanc de noirs" can be used as a supplementary designation for Weißherbst. In German and Austrian wine law, however, the designation/production is not explicitly defined.

Especially in France rosé wines have a long tradition. The production share in 2010 was 12% (red wines 45%). Many red wine appellations also include rosé wines. This is especially true for Bordeaux with the Bordeaux Rosé and the darker pressed Bordeaux Clairet, Loire with the rosé main area Anjou, Languedoc-Roussillon, Provence and Rhône. The Tavel from the southern Rhône region Tavel is called the "King of Rosé Wines".

Two incredibly successful branded rosé wines from Portugal are Lancers and the Mateus Rosé, which is bottled in Bocksbeutel bottles. In Italy, there are three rosé wines classified with the highest DOCG level: Alta Langa (Piedmont), Franciacorta and Oltrepò Pavese Metodo Classico (both Lombardy). In Austria and Germany, rosé wines became popular from the 1980s onwards as light summer wines, but the production share is relatively low. In Argentina, enormous quantities of qualitatively very simple, rosé-like draught or bulk wines are produced from various red berry Criolla varieties. Here, as well as in Chile and in the USA, there are also many rosé wines that comply with EU legislation.

in-depth information

All aids, work and measures in the vineyard during the vegetation cycle can be found under the keyword vineyard care. Complete lists of the numerous vinification measures or cellar techniques, as well as the various types of wine, sparkling wine and distillate regulated by wine law are included under the keyword vinification. Comprehensive information on wine law can be found under the keyword wine law.

Wine glasses: © Olga Yastremska / 123RF.com
edited by Norbert F. J. Tischelmayer

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