5 years ago

All about rosé wine

Bill Belkin, category manager for our Wines & Spirits
locations, clears up some of the mystery surrounding this popular pink wine.

Rosé may just be
the Rodney Dangerfield of wines – the MOST misunderstood. How is it made?
Is it a white Zinfandel? Is it dry or sweet? What grapes are used?
What do I drink it with?

Let’s clear up a
bit of the confusion and give some respect to this versatile and very on-trend

First off, rosé is
always made from red skinned grapes. Fun fact: All red skinned grapes (save a
couple which we won’t go into now) have WHITE JUICE. Traditional Provençal rosés
from France use Grenache and Syrah, along with lesser amounts of Mourvedre and
Carignane. In America, especially in Oregon, Pinot Noir is the base for
great Rosés. In California, Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel are all
used. In Spain, rosato is made mostly from Garnacha (Grenache).

Rosé is made in
three main ways. The first, called “skin contact,” is where the pressed
dark grapes are in a tank, in contact with their darker skins, usually for 1-3
days. The resultant “must” (everything that is pressed out of the grape)
is then pressed off the skins. The longer the contact, the darker the color.

If the pinkish
juice is removed from the tank at an earlier stage, this is known in France as
the “saignée” method, where the juice is “bled” off the skins and fermented
separately to make the rosé. This method is also widely used in other
countries – such as here in the U.S. – and makes fresh, fruit-driven, lighter
styles of rosé.

Lastly is the
“blending” method. This method sees the introduction of red wine to a
white to add color. This method is very seldom used. Except in
Champagne, this method is actually banned in France.

Technically, white
Zinfandel is a form of a rosé, as it starts life with dark black Zinfandel
grapes.  But in white Zinfandels, the final product is not fermented until
100% dry, so some residual sugar remains. However, most of the better rosé
wines that we sell are DRY!

Here are some top rosé
recommendations from our Golden Valley Wines & Spirits team:

Belle Glos Pinot Noir Blanc (Oregon) – Featuring crisp acidity, berry flavors and a touch of

Castano Monastrell Rose (Spain) – Nicely balanced with hints of fresh strawberries.

Domaine Lafond Tavel (France) – A fuller bodied rosé with a darker color and aromas of
strawberry, watermelon and spice.

Now for the good
part: rosés are made to be drunk with anything! In the hot summer months,
try a dry rosé with BBQ chicken, salad, appetizers – anything. There is
not enough tannin and color to fight with many food pairings, making rosé pretty
much the ideal wine.

And don’t put those
rosés too far from reach when the weather turns cold – rosé with turkey at the
Thanksgiving meal is inspirational!