Warmer temps get me thinking about rosé. Winter is great for hearty red wines, summer is ripe for crisp whites, but spring blooms with soft pinks and light florals like a lovely glass of rosé.
What exactly is a rosé wine? We know red wines are made from red grapes (actually called black grapes in the wine world), and white wines are made from white grapes. Are there delicate pink grapes that make the tempting springtime beverage? Nope. rosé is also made from red grapes!
Here’s a little technical sciency stuff for you: White grapes have clear flesh with green skins and typical red wine grapes also have clear flesh, but with purple skins! Interesting fact: you cannot make red wine from white grapes, but you can make white wine from red grapes! Just ask Champagne.
White wines are made by pressing the grapes to extract the juice, which is then strained off the skins and fermented in containers. In order to make red wine, the pressed juice is left on the skin as the wine ferments for a couple of weeks. This is what gives red wine its deep color, complex flavors and puckery tannins that you either love or hate.
This brings us back to rosé. The red grapes are pressed and then left on the skins for only 12 to 36 hours just to give the juice a touch of color and deepen the flavor. The juice can vary from a light blush to a deep pinkish salmon color, but it is all classified as rosé.
Rosé wines can not only vary in their color, but also in their flavor profile. The type of grape used will certainly lend particular flavors to the wine, but more importantly than the grape used is the amount of residual sugar left after fermentation. Do you immediately think of a rosé wine as sweet, or even slightly sweet? (the wine nerd term is off-dry). Then, you’ve likely had a White Zinfandel, or a mass produced American made rosé. If your idea of rosé is a refreshingly dry, (absence of sweet) fruity or floral rosé, you’ve likely had a small family vineyard specialty or a French rosé from the Cotes de Provence. Either of these options can be just what the doctor ordered, depending on the day, your mood or your budget.
Rosé wines can be great for a party, since it is difficult to please everybody’s taste in wine! Even red wine die-hards will settle for a nice glass of rosé over a Miller Lite (just trust me on this). And white wine purists who declare red wine “too whatever” will try a glass of rosé over a Jack and Coke.
So the next time you are in the wine shop, pick up a couple of bottles of rosé. Choose a familiar one, choose an unfamiliar one. Choose a California White Zinfandel, choose a Washington Cabernet Franc rosé, if you can find it (one of my favorites!). Don’t pass up an Oregon Pinot Noir rosé, or a Cotes de Provence rosé which will likely be made from Grenache. Imagine you are sipping on the Riviera.
We all have spring fever. Let your glass take you wherever you want to go!