The 30 Second Wine Advisor

Vol. 1, No. 18, May 17, 1999
© Copyright 1999 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

30 Second Wine Tasting Tip:
Pretty in Pink
Would a rosé by any other name taste as sweet?

As summer spreads across the Northern Hemisphere and puts us in mind of cool, refreshing drinks, I'd like to turn our attention toward pink wine, a category that gets surprisingly little respect.

Traditionally, rosé (with an accent mark over the 'e' that may disappear in our plain-text edition) is a wine made from red wine grapes, in which the color-imparting skins are removed from the fermenting vessel after a short time, just long enough for them to "bleed" an attractive pink, copper, salmon or, well, rosy hue to the wine without reaching the deep color of a serious red. The resulting wine is typically light, fresh and crisp, and traditionally it was made bone-dry -- a perfect wine to serve ice-cold on a sultry summer evening.

It's also possible to make rosé by blending red and white wines; in fact, the Champagne called Blanc de Noirs -- perhaps the classiest pink of them all -- is made in just that way.

I think attitudes toward pink wine started to change in the U.S. during the 1970s, when the market demand for white wines exceeded the supply, prompting wine makers to invent "White Zinfandel," a white wine made from red grapes. Initially vinified as a true white, it quickly became a craze as wineries discovered that it sold better when made pink and fairly sweet. Dubbed "blush" wine, it's now a staple of the bargain bins, but it's not usually seen on the tables of serious wine fanciers.

But the original rosé (sometimes called "Vin Gris" or "gray wine," particularly when it's on the pale side of pink) can be something else entirely, and if you haven't tried one for a while, I commend it to your attention.

What's your opinion? Thumbs up or thumbs down on dry, crisp pinks? Write me at and let me know. And, as always, please don't hesitate to drop us a line if you'd like to comment on our topics and tasting notes, suggest a topic for a future bulletin, or just talk about wine.

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30 Second Tasting Notes
Summery dry pinks
Here are my notes on two decent rosé wines; you'll find a third, the American "Eye of the Toad," among my Wine Lovers' Page tasting notes at

Grand Veneur Domaine Grand Veneur 1997 Cotes du Rhone Rosé ($8.49)
Clear reddish-amber, dark for a rosé. Ripe, surprisingly full berry and herbal scents. Full and bright flavor of tart red fruit, crisp cooking apples, bone-dry and fresh. My wife, who usually hates pink wine, gives it the ultimate accolade: "Tastes like a red." U.S. importer: Kysela Pere et Fils Ltd., Winchester, Va. (May 13, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Fine with a simple pasta dish of conchiglie with peas, spinach and ham. ("Pink wine with pink meat"?)

Charles Melton 1997 Barossa Valley (Australia) Rosé of Virginia ($16.99)
Clear light cherry-red in color, this Australian pink breathes delicious, fragrant strawberry and wildflower scents. A bit more shy on the palate than in the nose, it's crisp and dry, showing tart, appetizing berry fruit. Good wine, but on the pricey side. U.S. importer: Epic Wines, Aptos, Calif. (May 9, 1999)

FOOD MATCH: Works well with thick pork chops braised with rosemary and garlic.

30 Second Wine Link
Heading for wine country? If California is your travel destination and wine's your thing, do not miss SteveO's California Wine Touring Guides. No matter where you're going in the Golden State, you'll find winery and tour information here.

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Sydney International Wine Competition

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