What is Rosé?

It’s coming into rosé season now! Last week, we had a week straight of beautiful, sunny, 70 degree weather, and then we had a storm to end all storms. I’m pretty sure I heard someone say it was as fast as a tornado, but without the spin. Anyways, the sun is slowly coming back, and many of the wineries in town have released their new wines, including their rosés!

If you drink wine, you know what rosé is: pink wine, blush wine, not quite-white-and-not-quite-red wine. But how much do you know about how it’s made? The most common misconception that I see about rosé is that it’s red and white wine mixed together. Don’t get me wrong; I’m sure there are rosés made that way, but it’s not very common any more. These days, you’re more likely to see a dry, French-style rosé made from red grapes only.

Where does the pink color come from?  All wines get their color from the skins of the grapes (also where they get their tannins), but you don’t have to leave the grape juice sitting on their skins if you don’t want to. If you drain the juice from red grapes off the skins before the pigment fully saturates the juice, you get a lighter colored red wine, or a pink wine. The less time the juice spends with the skins, the less tannic and harsh it is as well, so rosés are an interesting midway point between red and white wines: the characteristics and flavors of the red grapes in the wine, and the lightness and clean mouthfeel of a white wine.

Dry vs Sweet Rosés? Another common misconception I run into is that rosés are sweet and poorly made. While this used to be the case (ex: White Zinfandel), most rosés are made dry or off-dry now, with very little residual sugar. Some of the best wineries I know of are making rosés, and it’s a sure  bet that they are as elegant and well-balanced as any other wines they make. Rosé is just as respectable now as any other kind of wine!

Now that rosés are back in season, I’ll keep you updated about my favorites that I try!

Photo by David Wilbanks via fotopedia.

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