The methods for making rosé wine are different.
From saignéè, to short maceration, to direct pressing.
Rosé wine can be obtained from a maceration of particular grapes such as pinot grigio or it can be obtained by pressing together white grape varieties and red grape varieties, as happens in Provence.
Each method has its pros and cons but there are two methods that must be clarified: the method of direct pressing and short maceration because at first glance they may seem similar but have important differences.
Direct pressing: as soon as the grapes arrive in the cellar, they are de-stemmed and pressed. The pressing is soft and extracts the free-run must, the most delicate one. The goal of direct pressing is to obtain the free run must as quickly as possible to obtain the best aromas without having to extract too much color. Rosés obtained by direct pressing will have a pale color.
The press is a machine composed of a perforated grid and an inflatable lung. The grapes end up in the grid and the lung pushes them against the perforated grid: in this way the juice comes out but the grapes remain trapped in the grid.
There is no maceration, there is no possibility.
In direct pressing it may be recommended to use some enzymes that facilitate the extraction of the juice. Furthermore, the pressing cycles allow a low extraction of polyphenolic substances such as tannins and antioxidants and this forces winemakers to consider the possibility of working in reduction. To do this, inert gases are used and the advantage of working in reduction is to obtain fresher wines that can express the varietal character.
In the short maceration the maceration period can vary from a few hours up to 2 days. The maceration time depends on the variety, the quality of the grapes and the winemaker’s goals.
In this case, the grapes are pressed and de-stemmed and taken to the tank. Here, the contact time of the must with the skins will have an impact on the final product. The longer the maceration, the more color and polyphenolic substances will be extracted.
Once the desired color has been reached, the grapes will still have some juice inside. For this reason it will be pressed to obtain more juice and definitively separate the must from the skins. Once the juice is separated, fermentation will take place.
These processes all take place at low temperatures because they allow the aromatic substances to be preserved.
The substantial differences is that in direct pressing takes place the pressing of the grapes which plays a fundamental role. In short maceration, pressing is not essential, indeed it may not happen and alternatively there may be a simple transfer from one tank to another to separate the juice from the skins.
It is essential to remember that during fermentation, filtration and refinement the intensity of the rosé color will decrease.
I remember in my experiences in the cellar, the excitement of making rosé wine and seeing these bright, charged, beautiful colors. During fermentation this color was fading because anthocyanins can bind to other molecules and are greatly influenced by the pH.
This demonstrates how experience and precision are fundamental characteristics for understanding when to stop maceration. The most difficult wine to obtain in the cellar.