Rose rule change scandalises French wine-makers

Tue May 19, 2009 10:01am EDT
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By Jean-Francois Rosnoblet

MARSEILLE, France (Reuters Life!) - Provence is up in arms against a pending rule change that would allow rose wine to be made by simply blending white wine with red.

The southern French region is the cradle of rose wine, a variety fast gaining international popularity.

Rose wines can in fact vary in color from a shade of pink to bright orange. They are produced here by taking the skins of red wine grapes out of the vats with grape juice after only a few days, instead of keeping them in the vats during the entire fermentation process as with red wines.

This means the skins give off some color and tannins to the juice, and later wine, that will be lighter in taste and color than the reds.

Some rose is made by 'bleeding' vats of red wine -- the vintner taps early rose juice from the vat so that the remaining red juice gets a more pronounced taste.

Grapes used for rose production are the Rhone valley varieties of Syrah, Grenache and Carrignan.

Three-quarters of French rose wine production comes from the Provence region, the rest being made mainly in Bordeaux and the Loire area.

But in South Africa, Australia and the United States, rose is made by mixing 2 percent of red wine with 98 percent of white.   Continued...

<p>A jury member sniffs a glass of rose wine during the 6th International rose wine competition in Cannes April 25, 2009. REUTERS/Sebastien Nogier</p>