If white wine comes from white grapes and red wine comes from red grapes, where does pink wine come from?
From red grapes, mostly. But there’s a trick. It turns out that even red grapes have mostly white juice. Based on that, pink, or rosé wines, are made in one of three ways.
First is skin contact. You crush the grapes, then let the juice sit on the skins soaking up color. If you soak them a short time, you get rosé wine. If you soak them a long time, you get red wine – even some of the darkest wines known.
The second way is rather indelicately called “saignée” or “bleeding.” Sometimes a winemaker who wants mostly red wine will “bleed” off some of the juice from the red skins after a short time, and that juice is pink. He then lets the rest of the juice sit on the skins for a long time. And since the skin-to-juice ratio is increased, his red wine becomes even redder. Win-win.
Third, sometimes winemakers make regular white wine, and simply pour a little red wine into it. That explains “pink moscato,” since the muscat canelli grape is white.
Over the past couple of decades, pink, or rosé, wines have overcome the mediocre reputation they earned for a few years when too many were made cloyingly sweet and bland. Today they might be dry or sweet, but they mostly have the crisp, refreshing acid to be bright and light and lively. Some are downright tart.
And they go with a huge range of foods.
They go with ham. Pink meat, pink wine – why not.
But mostly they’re light, fruity summer wines meant to be consumed, chilled, with picnic fare – salads, sandwiches, quiches, tuna or salmon, regular or smoked, sushi – or simply sipped by themselves on the back porch at dusk.
And they’re relatively cheap – mostly less than $20.
Rosé wines, as you can see from the tasting notes, come from dozens of countries and are made of dozens of different grapes. Sometimes the labels tell you whether they’re dry or sweet, sometimes they don’t.
Here’s a rule of thumb: Check the label for the alcohol level. The lower the alcohol – 8 percent to 11 percent – the sweeter the wine. The higher the drier. Usually.
Hey, you gotta taste them to see if you like them.
• 2010 Holman Ranch Rosé of Pinot Noir, Carmel Valley, Calif. (100 percent pinot noir): dark rose color, floral aromas, black cherry and strawberry flavors, light body, crisp and dry; $22.
• 2012 Las Rocas Rosé, Calatayud DO (100 percent garnacha): light rose color, aromas and flavors of strawberries and red raspberries, crisp and dry; $14.
• 2012 Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé, Coastal Region, South Africa (100 percent cabernet sauvignon): transparent, light pink color, fairly sweet, flavors of cassis, black cherries and minerals; $12.
• 2012 Hecht & Bannier Languedoc Rosé, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (34 percent Grenache, 33 percent syrah, 33 percent syrah): floral aromas, intense tart cherry and spice flavors, crisp and lively; $15.
• 2012 El Coto de Rioja Rosado, Rioja, Spain (50 percent termpranillo, 50 percent garnacha): pale cherry color, ripe sweet cherry flavors, crisp and lively; $11.
• 2012 Luigi Bosca Finca La Linda Malbec Rosé, Mendoza, Argentina (100 percent malbec): pale violet color, lightly sweet strawberry and spice aromas and flavors; $13.
• 2012 Marc Roman Rosé, Languedoc-Roussillon, France (100 percent syrah): medium rose color, aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries and red raspberries, crisp; $10.
• 2012 Castello Monaci Kreos Rosato, Puglia, Italy (90 percent negroamaro, 10 percent malvasia nera di lecce): transparent rose color, full-bodied, aromas and flavors of black cherries and spice; $16.
• 2011 Martin Weyrich Allegro Pink Rosato (muscat canelli plus small dose of red wine): pale rose color, floral aromas, lightly fizzy, quite sweet, flavors of ripe strawberries and apricots; $12.
• 2012 Tower 15 Winery “Sunset Rosé,” Paso Robles, Calif. (60 percent Grenache, 40 percent mourvedre): transparent salmon color, floral aromas, aromas and flavors of black cherries and minerals; $18.
• 2012 Vera Vinho Verde Rosé, Vinho Verde DOC, Basto, Portugal (60 percent vinhao, 40 percent rabo de anho): dark, transparent rose color, sweet flavors of strawberries and pink grapefruit; $11.
Fred Tasker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.