The Pink Stuff

Rosé wines – the stunningly beautiful pink, orange, light red-hued selections – don the shelves of most retail stores this time of year, looking like a sea of pink. You can not miss them.  

Rosé wines have been the fastest growing segment of wine in the past five years, often surpassing the consumption of white wines during warmer months! Rightfully so – rosé wines are perfect food partners for fresh grilled seafood and lighter dishes, as well as backyard gatherings, even if during this time our gatherings are small or consist of only one person, yourself!

What is Rose?

Despite rosé’s popularity, many still do not know what rosé wine is, asking often – “Is rosé made from a pink grape?” “Is it a red wine?” “From where does rosé get its beautiful pink color?”

Rosé is a category of wine (like red and white are categories) that encompasses many styles, from completely dry to semi-dry to very sweet, like white zinfandel. However, the overall category of rosés should not be equated to white zinfandel, a cloyingly sweet wine that got its fame by Sutter Home. White Zinfandel is technically a rosé, if we are referring to the color, but not all rosés are sweet. Quite the opposite.

So, what makes a wine a rosé with its pretty pink-ish color? The answer – the color of the resulting rosé wine is because of the grape’s skins and their contact with the juice. When grapes are pressed, the juice that comes out is clear (most of the time), regardless of if the grape is white or red. (See and test this out for yourself. Buy red and white grapes from your local market. Squeeze the grape until the juice comes out. Notice that the juice is clear regardless of grape’s skin color.) Red and rosé wines receive their color not from the juice but from the juice’s contact with the grapes’ skins. This technical term is called maceration.

You could in fact call a rosé wine a very light red because it is made from red grapes. But why pink and not red like red wines? For rosés, winemakers allow a grape’s juice to soak with the skins of the grapes for only a short period of time, think hours. While for red wines, the skins and juice remain in contact for days, weeks or even months Think of this process like a tea bag. The longer you leave a tea bag in a cup of water the more color is extracted; hence making the water darker. The same concept occurs here with wine.

Each winemaker makes her or his own decision on how long the skins and juice remain in contact, based on the resulting color and taste that she or he wants! Since tannins are also in the skins of the grapes, the longer the skins and juice sit together, the more tannins are imparted into the wine. After the winemaker obtains the desired color and taste, the wine then goes on its merry way of fermenting.

Though France – particularly the areas of Provence and Tavel – has become synonymous with top rosés, there are fabulous quality ones from other countries and grapes – ie., nebbiolo from Northern Italy; pinot noir from Oregon and California; zweigelt from Austria; tempranillo from Spain; and moscofilero from Greece. The list can continue. Also, because there are many styles, rosés are great to enjoy all year, not just during warm weather months.

Lucky for us, rosés run the price spectrum, with many starting at $10. Try a rosé instead of your usual red or white wine to pair with food! Ask for a suggestion based on your price and taste profile.

Here are some of our favorite rosé wines to enjoy all year and with many different dishes. Cheers!

Under $15

Lobetia Organic Rosé, Spain – Grape: Tempranillo

Le Poussin Rosé, France – Grapes: Grenache & Cinsault

Under $20

Rock Point Rosé, Oregon – Grape: Pinot Noir

Cibonne Tentations Rosé, France – Grapes: Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault & Tibouren

Ioppa Rosé, Italy – Grape: Nebbiolo

The Splurge

Wolffer Estate Summer in a Bottle, New York – Grapes: Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Meunier & Pinot Blanc

Tempier Rose, Bandol, France – Grapes: Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault

Shop them all!