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April 10, 2014 | Henri of Henri's Reserve

Pink Champagne for Spring...

I get a bit twitchy - a very clever American word - when people call my darlings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

pink Champagne. A tad retro wouldn't you say? But I guess that is their color n’est-pas? In France we call them rosés.

Okay, mon ami, let's equip you with some good information... 

So rosés  are made from red grapes, oui? Mais non, Champagne grapes (chardonnay, pinot noir, pinot meunier) produce white “juice” and it is just the skins that are red. (Yes, this confuses even my Parisian friends…but of course not my Burgundy friends, they love a chance to make my city friends feel naive.)

So how do we make “pink” Champagne (ah, I mean rosé)? Rosé Champagnes are generally made in the same way as blanc (white) Champagnes. However, to get that exquisite rosé color and profile, an extra step is needed. There are two ways:

1. Rosé de Saignée: In a rosé de saignée (such as a Billiot) the juice is allowed to sit for a longer period with the red grape skins, picking up some of the red pigment. The subsequent wine* will have this light red color.
2. Blending: Many rosé Champagnes are made by blending in a red still wine with white Champagne (à la Dumangin). In other words, the producers ferment some red grapes separately to make a red wine and this is later blended in with the white Champagne.

Champagne snobs believe saignée to be the best method, but, as Americans say, I let the Champagnes speak for themselves.

Now go and impress your friends**. But first let’s enjoy a flute, or three, or four of some of my rosé darlings.

*Oui, Champagnes are wines - just wine that has been fermented twice.
**See rosé food pairings to show them the true gourmand you are!
 

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