Booze School: the Pinks

First of all, thanks everyone for your support on my Epic Fry-Free Summer Program.  And especially to Megan who just tweeted at me that today is National French Fry Day.


I will not celebrate with a trip to Chick-Fil-A….I will not celebrate with a trip to Chick-Fil-A….

Since I am definitely NOT giving up the sauce this summer, I want to dedicate today’s post to one of my favorite summer beverages: PINK WINE.

Oh, rosè.  Is there anything more refreshing on a hot day?  Nay, I say.  Nay!

Enough with the rhyming, hey?  Okay.

Anyway.  (Gah!)

What is it? Pink wines are most commonly labeled as rosè, blush, or the oft-maligned White Zinfandel.  What’s the difference?

Before getting in to that, let’s briefly discuss the broader issue of color in wines.

Wine gets its hue from the skin of the grape.  So red wine is made from purple/black grapes, and white wine can either be made from green/white grapes or from purple/black grapes that are fermented without the skin.

Rosè is typically made by crushing purple/black grapes and then leaving the skins in contact with the juice for a very short time during fermentation, allowing them to impart some of the color and intense flavor of the grape.  So a well-made rosè will have all of the taste characteristics of its red counterpart, but on a more subtle scale.

Blush is a term used primarily in the U.S.  It usually refers to rosè wines with relatively high residual sugar, making them sweet rather than dry.  Some winemakers also use blush to refer to a blended wine made by adding a small amount of red wine into a batch of white wine, although as I understand it this is fairly uncommon.

White Zinfandel is a type of rose made from Zinfandel grapes.  Largely an American/California thing, White Zins are often sweetened or blended with other sugary grapes like Muscat, making this punch-like wine popular with non-wine-drinkers, and subjecting it to scorn by aficionados.

Origin: C’est francais.  Rosè was first produced in Bordeaux in the form of a light Claret that would be considered a dark rosè by today’s standards.  Until the mid-18th century, it was the Bordeaux region’s biggest export.

Blushes and particularly White Zins became popular in America in the 1970s.  Apparently people really started to dig white wine.  But at the time, there were far more red wine grapes available.  Simple supply and demand: winemakers began trying to figure out new ways to turn red-wine grapes into bottles that the white-wine-hungry masses would buy.  In an accidental stroke of…something, the Sutter Home winery was fermenting a batch of Zinfandel grapes when something went wrong with the yeast, leaving a bunch of sugar in the wine that hadn’t yet turned to alcohol.  And thus, sweet White Zinfandel was born.

So you can thank your high school economics class – and a bad batch of yeast – for that box of Franzia Blush.

Buy it and drink it: Rosè has definitely increased in popularity over the last decade or so!  Whereas grocery store shelves once stocked only a few bottles – usually of that punchy Sutter Home variety – great pinks are easy to come by these days.  It’s a great choice when you want a something more complex than – but just as refreshing as – a traditional summer sipper like Sauv Blanc or Pinot Grigo.

Rosè wines go well with food, and in particular with summery fare like hamburgers and grilled sweet corn.  But they’re usually light-bodied enough to sip on their own as well.  Serve ’em chilled, but not so ice-cold that you can’t taste ’em.  (As with any chilled wine.)

According to my dude at Total Wine, French pinks are the way to go.  They’re a little harder to find in grocery stores, but most wine shops have a great selection, especially at this time of the year.

According to me, French pinks are indeed awesome but there are some great American and Spanish bottles too!

Here are a couple to try:

This Trader Joe’s Petit Reserve 2010 Napa Valley Rose definitely has one toe in Hawaiian Punch bowl with its sweet, fruit-forward flavor, but for the price it was an enjoyable wine.  A blend of who-knows-what, it greets you with lots cherries and strawberries before mellowing out to a mild punchy flavor.

Bottom line: Yeah, why not?  For the price, it’s not bad. I’ve definitely had worse pinks! It’s nothing special, but it gets the job done. (Purchased at Trader Joe’s, $6.)

And on the other end of the scale, we have a dry French rosè.

This Les Vignes des Precheurs 2010 Tavel Rose was delightful.  Crisp and refreshing with earthy black cherry undertones.  The Tavel region in France does pinks exclusively and it does them well.  According to Total Wine Dude, a Tavel rosè will rarely leave you disappointed.

Bottom line: Get it!  Worth every penny. (Purchased at Total Wine, $17.)

Do you drink pink?  Do you have a favorite bottle? Personally, I can’t wait to spend the hottest months of the summer sipping this stuff.  Rosè us up there with beer for me on the refreshment scale!

Sources and more fun reading: Wikipedia on RoseClaret, and the Tavel AOC; DCFoodies on Roses (good discussion in the comments); and In Vino Veritas’ Rosy View

33 responses to “Booze School: the Pinks

  1. Oh my god the pictures…I am dying

  2. Fraziers has a great selection you can sample pretty cheaply with 2 oz pours. Erin and I tried a Sancerre Rose last night that was delcious. Normally not my thing but after that I’m definitely planning on trying some more.

  3. I cannot drink pinks. I can’t drink red wine (red splotchy face, extreme fatigue/sleeping at the table) – and so the Rose leaves me with a dry mouth (sweetness) and extreme hangovers. BOO.

    I did, however, find a great, snappy Sav Blanc at TJ’s on Monday. NOM.

    • That is a tragic allergy/issue. At least you have the whites! What was the SB you picked up?

  4. Does Boone’s Farm count?

  5. After a bad experience with White Zin I have yet to try another pink. I’ll have to track down the drier ones you suggest and give them a whirl.

  6. Damn you, Sutter Home. I have to say, I haven’t had a rose in a long time, but I do enjoy a good dry rose every now and again. And I’m totally with your wine dude- the French ones are awesome! I have to say, these booze school posts are very informative- I like it!

  7. I really need to go to a wine tasting. I’ve never had a good rose, and am a total White Zin hater which I think has turned me off from trying others. The french one sounds pretty delicious though… the problem is most of the vineyards around where I live are weaksauce. PA wine < everywhere else wine.

    • Do you have a specialty wine shop nearby? The ones around here all do tasting events or have tasting hours, where they pour samples of a few featured wines. It’s a great way to spend a Friday afternoon. (Not that I would know…)

      • That’s a good question.. I’m not sure. Probably not bc PA is wack and we’re a commowealth so you have to buy wine @ the State Store and they rarely do any tastings. There’s a festival once a year in Hershey which someday I will make…

  8. I DO drink pink in the spring/summer/fall…there’s a bottle in the fridge right now waiting for me post-bike ride home from work. I can’t recall the label because it’s French and I never remember French names well. A Languedoc, I think…I’ll send the name to you. But it has a great bright strawberry quality to it that is super for salad, pasta, barbeque, shrimp, chicken, or just drankin’.

  9. lolz, i am sorry to be the bearer of bad news (re: french fries).

    anddd i want some Rose wine! your tutorial was A+ :)

  10. love this. though i struggle to drink rose on its own – somehow it gets a little nauseating to me, but maybe i should give your reccs a try!

    oh, and i never thought about grapes being racist. your cartoons are always eye-opening, miss shelby. i dig.

    PS resist the powa of the fries. or don’t.

  11. I love rosès. When I spent a summer in the South of France they had the most amazing selection there!

    love love love your cartoons!

  12. OMG I love pink wine, it’s my new favorite summer sipper.
    I am really enjoying some of the local rose wines – from Greata Ranch
    and the Latitude 50 from Gray Monk I find them both really refreshing, not like that sweet cougar juice.

  13. I’ve never had these. I like Reisling! Is that okay? Is white wine good for you like red wine is? Must not consume bad beverage!!!!

  14. Just the mention of Sutter Home and boxed wine makes me nauseous. Probably all of those “boxed wine races” my friends and I held post college. (Not as good of an idea as one would think, especially when one decides to impress the boys by chugging half a bottle of sutter home – before even attempting the boxes. Then one spends the night with her head in a pink leopard trash can).

  15. I just started liking Rose after my trip to Napa in May – it’s such a delicious s ummer wine! Though I’ve forgotten most of the things I learned about it (um, probably because I was extremely buzzed?), so thanks for this recap :)

  16. My favorite wine is Riesling, but I’m totally a sucker for sweet reds (ala Jam Jar!) I’d totally get dumped by the awesome dude in the drawing. I like my wines juicy! Which makes me highly intrigued by the Trader Joe’s cheap/sweet Rose! Haha.

    (Loved the explanation of the process of the rose wine making, by the way! It was really interesting!)

  17. Pink Catawba, an Ohio favorite.

  18. Not a pink wine, but my favorite white is Gewürztraminer. You should do a post on that one… starting with how you say that word.

  19. That was fun! (bursts into tears again.)

    No but yeah. I stopped drinking pinks around the time I stopped drinking wine from a box, but I didn’t know there were actual SERIOUS ones. I thought they were all you know, what [in a whisper] bitches drink. I’ll have to try one sometime. You know, next year. (my list of drinks I’m going to drink next year is getting long.)

  20. Oooh Franzia Blush, I used to love that shit, and then one day it no longer tasted good. That was a sad day. I’ve pretty much stayed away from the pinks (that’s what she said) since then, but maybe I’ll venture back. Thanks for the lesson!

  21. Very interesting! Great article, thank you for posting. Sounds delicious.

  22. Beringer’s White Zin. $6.99 a bottle. Can’t beat it!

  23. My goal this summer has been to spend more time exploring Rosés. I’ve always had a fondness for pink champagne (hello Piper-Heidsieck Rosé Sauvage), but the still pinks are taking me a little more time to fall in-love…but it’s happening.

    If you find one from Provence, grab it! That area of France is almost entirely Rosés, and they’re gorgeous! I’m also a fan of the Montes Cherub Rosé of Syrah, which is actually from Chile. I’ve had trouble finding it, but it’s a nice and a little different. Plus, it has a fun label :-)

  24. Confession: I had my first taste of Rose just last week. The wine shop I was at was sampling it. I don’t recall the brand, but the taste was totally unexpected. I assumed it would be nasty like white zin (my opinion), but it was light with a tiny hint of sweet. I wish I would have written it down. I might have to go back!

  25. I spent the first 18 years of my life in petite Napa Valley, my middle name is Rose, and yet this was extremely informative. I knew nothing about rose! Every time I’ve had it though I’ve enjoyed it.

    Good luck on your fried food endeavor. I find diet endeavors absolutely IMPOSSIBLE while working full time. The long days just make me freakin ravenous all the time. It doesn’t even matter if I generally eat healthy foods, because I just eat SO MUCH of it. So although it hasn’t happened yet (I think…my clothes fit the same), I expect to hit some struggles with extra poundage with a few more years of ass-in-chair work.

  26. Not a huge pink wine lover, although if handed to me, I will surely drink it. :)

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