Cocktail Hour

Everything You Need to Know About Rosé Wine

Pink wine had a bad rap in our country for a while. Luckily, that’s turned around in the past several years and nowadays pink is the new red when it comes to summer wine. But not all rosés are created equal, they come in a wide range of colors and levels of sweetness. Here are some tips to understanding your options.

What Makes a Rosé?

Like reds and whites, rosés are a category of wine all their own. But this wasn’t always true. The first wine humans ever drank was made from both red and white grapes that were typically pressed just after they were picked, spending very little time extracting color from the skins and resulting in pink wine. Today, wine makers set out to create their perfect shade of pink, and they use one of three primary methods to get there: They bleed a bit of fresh lightly colored juice off from the first press of primarily red varietals, they leave the juice in contact with the red skins for a short vs. long period of time or, rarely, white and red wines are combined to make pink wine (very frowned upon and forbidden in some regions). Each method fundamentally influences the flavors and colors in your glass.

The Geography of Rosé

Rosé is the French word for pink, so it’s not surprising that the classic dry rosé hails from France. More than half of the rosé produced in France is from Provence and they’ve been making it there for centuries. Amid the wide variety of grapes used, you’ll usually find blends of Cinsault, Mourvedre, Grenache, Carignan, and Syrah making up your rosés. Provencal rosé should be a pale salmon pink hue with a hint of grey, like the shimmer on a salmon’s skin.
In Spain and Italy, rosé is known as rosado and rosato, respectively. In both countries, you’ll find a wide variety of both lighter and darker colored pink wines – even copper or orange hues. Many of the Spanish and Italian red grape varieties are dark in color (like Tempranillo and Grenache), so you can expect these to be fuller-bodied rosés and they are not always dry. While they are not your safe bet if you’re looking for something light, they can be great with bolder barbecue fare.

In the US, Oregon rosé, which is typically made from Pinot Noir, is on the rise. Look for a pale salmon color and always keep your eyes open for the words “off-dry” on the label. It means it has some sweetness, or residual sugar.

Drink In Your Start to Summer

Just like the summer itself, the $15 bottle of rosé is fleeting, so look for bottles from last year. Rosé is a great choice because of its fresh, bright acidity, minerality and flavors of strawberry or cherry – plus, it goes with almost any food. Rosé is red wine in its summer clothes; it’s shed the heavy full-bodied look for the light easy breezy styles of a warmer season. So go pour a glass full of summer!

– Alix Ford,


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