So, what is Rosé?
Rosé translates from French literally to pink. Broadly speaking, Rosé means "Pink wine." Much like how Bourgogne Rouge or Bourgogne Blanc wine are locally known as Red Burgundy and White Burgundy, "rosé" as a name is just letting you know the color of the wine.
But why pink?
This is surprisingly simple. To make white wine, winemakers use white (or grey) grapes without using any grape skins. This is why whites are crisp and mostly clear. To make a red wine, winemakers use red (or black) grapes and ferment with the crushed grape skins until sufficiently red. To make rosé, follow the same instructions and ingredient list for red wine… only use fewer grape skins, for less time. Yes, in theory, a rosé is simply a red wine that never fully became red. [Fun fact: using red grapes with absolutely no skins can yield a truly bold, truly white wine. If you've ever seen bottles labeled Blanc de Noir (white from red), that's exactly what this is.]
Cool story, but WHY pink?
Because it's fun! But really, it's easier to make and quicker to market than a true red. A lot of rosé is actually made using extra, left-over, and/or already-pressed red grapes. So it's a good way for wineries to efficiently use every last bit of their grapes, diversify their selection, and sell refreshing wines while all of the bolder ones are still aging.
So it's just cheap, not-really red wine?
No. Since demand for reds shrinks after winter, rosé has traditionally become a very popular alternative. Thus, wineries have - for centuries now - been making rosé as one of their primary releases, using harvest-select, first-press grapes. There are even well established viticulture regions dedicated to the production of rosé; most famously, Provence in southern France, known for its abundance of high quality and complex rosé wines made from the familiar Grenache and Syrah grapes. Some upwards of $40 per bottle.
Isn’t that a lot for a sweet blush wine?
Hold on. Who said anything about sweet? Or blush? That's not rosé. Yes, rosé mean "pink wine," but not every pink wine is a "true" rosé. Just like the best red and white wines of the world, a traditional rosé is bone dry. Remember, they are made to literally be the midway wine between a white and a lighter red. The name blush has a more recent history, being attributed to sweet pink wines made in the U.S. since in the 1970's. Where the rest of the world thinks of pinks as dry, refreshing, food-pairing wines, American winemakers invented an easy way to mix unfinished or flawed juice - sometimes bled off as an afterthought from red wine barrels - into an attractive looking pink blend, masked by sweetness. There are a lot of great rosé wines being made here in the states, just be wary of the word blush if you're looking for the traditional styles.
Wow, I'm thirsty now - where are the rosés?
Since wines this young and crisp are best drunk fresh, rosé season typically kicks off in March/April. Every year, autumn harvests are quickly vinified, bottled in winter, and usually ship just in time for Spring. And with increasing demand, some wineries have been working to produce high quality rosé to be released year-round.
Nice, what should I be on the lookout for?
Again, the most popular category is Provence rosé, with wines in the $15 price range and up, but other French favorites include - believe it or not - Côtes du Rhône Rosé, Bordeaux Rosé, and especially Sancerre Rosé. Of course there's also great Toscana Rosato (pink Tuscan wine), Rioja Rosado (pink wine from Rioja, Spain), and a number of great Pinot Noir rosés from California.
Stop by NosVino all Spring and Summer for rotating rosé selections and tastings!
For more information visit www.nosvino.com/events