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.
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!