Many of the first recorded wines were rosé. These lighter libations were watered-down field blends of both white and red grapes. In ancient Greece, it was considered civilized to dilute the wine, but these early examples were a far cry from the rosés of today. Instead, they were slightly off-dry and tannic from contact with the grape skins, seeds, and stems.

In the 6th century BC, the Phocaeans brought grapevines to Massalia, (modern-day Marseille) in southern France. The wines they produced were field blends of white and red grapes, which were naturally light in colour. These pleasant pink wines were the talk of the Mediterranean. By the time the Romans landed later in Provence, they had already heard all about the ‘pink wines of Massalia,’ used their super-connected trade networks to make them popular around the Mediterranean. Even today, the south of France is still considered the epicentre of rosé.

Credit – Victoria James, Drink Pink: A Celebration of Rosé

How Rosé is produced

As with red wine, rosé production starts with the picking of grapes that are then crushed manually or mechanically inside a vat. The grape berries’ skin and juice are left to react with each other for a few hours, commonly between four to eight hours to be precise before the skins are removed and the liquid is left to ferment on its own, without the grape’s skin.

The result is a lighter, pink colour. In the case of deeper-coloured red wines, the skin and juices are left alone for a more extended period. All wine colour is derived from the skins, so the longer the contact, the more colour extraction. Another technique some rosé manufacturers use is to blend red and white wines to produce a lighter rosé colour. But this technique is only allowed in the Champagne region in France.

Credit – The Wine Bunker