The Weekly Walla Walla Wine Word for Dummies is: Saignée
Sure, you could cheat and simply blend red and white wine together to get those beautiful shades of pink, but that would not follow old world tradition. The best of rosés are produced by a method known as saignée (pronounced “sen-yay”), a French word that means “to bleed.”
While the concept of "bleeding" may not sound particularly appealing, however it makes perfect sense. After the beautiful red grapes have been macerated, their lovely pink colored juice are "bled" out of the fermentation tank and separated from their skins.
This saignée method has also been referred to as "cap and drain." Why? Well again - - after the red grapes have been macerated, the grape skins begin to separate from their juice and the grapes will rise to the top of their fermentation tank/bin to form a "cap" - - a cap of skins. Typically a winemaker would regularly punch down the cap into the juice to intensify the red color of the wine. However, a producer of rosé wants to keep the beautiful pink color of the juice - basically a by-product of the red wine. So before the red color intensifies, the luscious pink juice is separated from the skins and drained (or “bled”) off into barrels or tanks to continue fermentation.
The beauty of rosés are they give you all of the flavor of the red wine grapes that we love, but the lightness of our chilled summer whites. Yes - we can have it all.