Pink Champagne! Ever since I saw ‘Sound of Music’ as a little girl and von Trapp children were drinking Pink lemonade on the terrace of their stately Austrian villa, I had thought pink fizzy drinks must be the height of feminine sophistication. Why feminine? When the Baroness describes it as being ‘Not too sweet, not too sour’, Max replies ‘Just too…..Pink’.
I was not that surprised in France when I ever bought up the subject of Rosé Champagne to be met with a bit of a shrug of the shoulders. Apparently just because it was pink, didn’t mean it was good.
I decided to go on a bit of a mission to find out more about how this lovely pink drink was made and to find one that would astound even the toughest French male critic. I have succeeded on the former, but have come to accept over the years that I will probably never succeed on the latter.
Every time we visited a producer, I would ask about their Rosé. I was quite surprised to see very early on that Rosé comes in a variety of different shades. It can range from quite a vivid dark pink to a pale orangey blush. Gaining an understanding how the wine was made helped to understand the complexities of the colour.
Here is what I learnt.
Apparently there are two different ways to make Rosé – saignée and blending.
Saignée from the French word ‘bleeding’ is when the dark skin of the Pinot Noir grape is left in contact with the sparkling wine cuvée anywhere between one to three days, then discarded. The length of skin contact will therefore affect the depth of colour.
Blending as its name suggests involves mixing a small amount of red wine made from pinot noir to the sparkling wine cuvée to give it colour. Champagne is the only region in France where the practice of blending is not forbidden by law. It is also the most common method used to produce Rosé.
Over the last few years, champagne producers have invested a lot more into the production of Rosés, and there are some excellent ones on the market.
As for what is the perfect Pink – that is as personal choice, and different for every eye and every palate. There really are 50 shades. Maybe more!