A Quick and Easy Guide to Rosé Wine
By Jimmy Quaile, Certified Sommelier
What is Rosé Wine?
Simply stated, Rosé is a pink wine with some of the flavors associated with red wine, but is lighter and fruitier in character. They can be made using any red grape varietal and can be sweet, dry, or sparkling!
Who made the first Rosé wine?
Although Rosé wines were first made by the ancient Greeks most Americans were introduced to the style from two Portuguese brands; Mateus and Lancers. However it wasn’t until 1972 that the Rosé wine world changed forever when winemaker Bob Trinchero had a happy accident. His Zinfandel grapes juice went through a stuck fermentation in which the yeast died before the sugar turned to alcohol. Expecting to throw out the lot he was pleasantly surprised by the soft and sweet wine he had inadvertently invented. From that point on Sutter Home became synonymous with White Zinfandel.
What is the Difference Between Rosé and Blush Wine?
The term “blush wine” has been used on labels in the U.S. for decades for everything from white Zinfandel, white Merlot, to pink Moscato. At this point, the terms are interchangeable with “rosé.”
How is Rosé Wine Made?
There are three methods by which a rosé is made:
- Skin contact: The juice is left in contact with the red skins for a short period of time before being removed. The pink stained juice is then left to ferment as usual.
- Saignée: This method bleeds off some of the red wine from a barrel before the maceration process makes the juice darker.
- Blending: Although only sanctioned in the Champagne region, this method simply blends red and white wine together.
How do I know if the Rosé is dry or sweet?
Unfortunately, trial and error. With so many Rosés being made around the world there is almost no way to know without tasting. Although there are a lot of exceptions, the rule of thumb is that old World (Europe) Rosés are dryer than it’s new World (everywhere else) counterpart.