Rose and Blush Wines

Rosé and Blush Wines – Those Pink Favorites!

Rosé (roh-zay), which means pink in French, is not just a blending of red and white wine. Except in the case of pink champagne when red and white wines can be blended, as part of the complex blending process that produces Champagne, the color of the wine is determined by how long the grape juice stays in contact with the grape skins. White Zinfandel and White Merlot (“blush” wines) are made from the same dark grapes as their red versions. The skin contains the color—and a lot of the tannins. After the grapes are lightly crushed for rosés, and the pre-fermented juice is macerated with the skins just long enough to pick up the desired rosy or peachy hue, the juice is drained and fermented without the skins. So, a very light pressing of the grapes and a very short time with the skins produces pink wine. 

In the case of Blanc de Noir (“white from black”), a white wine is produced from dark grapes. The grapes are not crushed other than by their own weight, and the free-run juice is drained immediately. 

Generally, European rosés, especially the ones from the Mediterranean regions of France, Italy, and Spain, are dry—sometimes, bone dry. They are wonderful chilled and served as aperitif with hors d’oeuvres. They are classic with fish stews and soups like bouillabaisse and cioppino. 

On the other hand, the blush wines of America tend to be sweet and, served chilled, they pair well with spicy foods from Mexico or the Orient, with salty ham, or with meals like traditional turkey and the “fixins,” where such sweet dishes as cranberry or sweet potato come into play.