From the palace of King Louis XIV to the vineyards of Pennsylvania, rosé has always been a part of wine drinking culture. This article offers the essentials of what it is, how it’s made, and what you should be looking out for. There is always a place in our glass for the fresh and whimsical flavors of pink wines.
There are two very different types of pink wine drinkers. Which one are you? Do you only drink wine during the winter holidays? Or are you simply someone looking for a refreshing summertime drink?
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The 90’s Horror in Rosé
If you are younger than Jerry Springer, it probably sounds nuts that people drink pink wines in December. But, back in the nineties, it was as common as acid-washed jeans. Entire families would wolf down Christmas fajitas followed by a molten chocolate cake, washing it all down with glug-fulls of white zinfandel, America’s super-sweet contribution to the world of rosé wines.
Most Americans lived in the city of saccharin back then. Boyz II Men were ascendant, street drugs were sold as nose candy, Twinkies were a national treasure, and Forrest Gump had its premiere. So is it really a surprise that most American adults didn’t drink anything unless it was syrupy sweet?
The New Generation
Outside of a few aspirational diabetics, later generations haven’t had such intense sugar cravings. Over the past few years, dry rosé wines have become more popular as White Zin’s memory falls father into the past.
Back in the nineties, it was as common as acid-washed jeans. Entire families would wolf down chicken fajitas followed by a molten chocolate cake, washing it all down with glug-fulls of white zinfandel, America’s super-sweet contribution to the world of rosé wines.
But what exactly is rosé, and what’s the best way to buy it?
Rosé is made from red wine grapes like Syrah and Pinot Noir, which have purple pigments in their skins. When making wine, the grapes are crushed and pumped into a fermenter. The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the darker the wine will get.
If grapes are crushed and the skins are quickly removed, the juice is pink instead of red. Hello, rosé!
There are two ways to pull the juice off the skins. First, wineries specializing in rosé wines will harvest early and press the juice directly off the skins. These wines are typically very light in color. This style of wine is called vin gris. That’s French for “grey wine,” which is weird, but the definition of grey was a bit different in the 18th Century.
The other way to make a pink wine is to crush the grapes and add the skins and juice to the tank. The winemaker then quickly bleeds off half the wine from the fermenter and pumps it into another tank. This is the saignée technique, and it allows the winery to make a red and rosé wine from the same grapes. The wine made with this technique is typically darker in color.
A Few Rosés to Try
As the popularity of pink wines explodes, there has been an explosion of pink wines in stores. However, not all pink has been created equal. Let’s talk about some recommendations for this summer.
Pierre Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” Beaujolais Rosé (France)
Rosewater, quince, wild strawberries, and burnt butter. Gamay. A full day of maceration before being pressed off the skins.
Badenhorst Family Wines “Secateurs” Rosé, Swartland (South Africa)
A directing press of Cinsault blended with Syrah that was given 2 hours of skin contact. Fresh watermelon and raspberry with lavender notes. Very fresh and pure.
Commanderie de la Bargemone Rosé, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence
A centuries-old winery that is a benchmark producer. Grenache, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah. Wild strawberry, marmalade, and lush.
Julia’s Dazzle Pinot Gris Rosé, Columbia Valley
Some of the greatest pink wines in the US are coming from Washington State. This is one of many great bottlings.
Crios de Susana Balbo Rose of Malbec, Mendoza (Argentina)
A delicious example of the saignée. Dark pink with flavors of maraschino cherries and mango.