Is it true that the rosé version came first?

Pink Pinot Grigio – ask Decanter

D Morrison, St Helens, asks: A wine merchant told me that rosé Pinot Grigio is actually the authentic, traditional Pinot Grigio of Italy and that the white is an innovation. The reason given was that Pinot Grigio has pinkish skin.

I always assumed that rosé Pinot Grigio had some red wine added and was just a bit of commercial fakery. Who is right?

David Gleave MW, is managing director of Liberty Wines, replies: Pinot Grigio grapes have a red (not pink) skin.

Traditionally, there were wines that had a ramato (coppery) colour, which was derived from contact with the skins.

But I wouldn’t say this was the authentic Pinot Grigio; it was instead a choice by the winery to obtain more flavour in the wine, something that involved macerating the skins in the must for anything from four to 24 hours.

Pinot Grigio was first bottled in the 1950s, but didn’t really start to become popular until the 1980s, by which time technology had improved and the fashion was for very clear, light white wines.

As a result, the ramato style fell out of fashion, even though a few producers (Specogna, La Fattoria, Livio Felluga) stuck with it.

Whatever colour there was in the finished wines would be removed by fining, which would also remove flavour.

Today, both styles are found in the market, though the rosato style is more a product of marketing than of winemaking method.

 

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