Whether it’s rosé, rosado (Spain), rosato (Italy) or “blush” – these terms all refer to pink wine. This pink shade can range from a soft, subtle hue to a vibrant, hot pink, depending on the grape used and how long the grape skins were in contact with the juice. Rosés can be made in a sweet, off-dry or bone dry style, with most European rosés being decidedly dry.
The majority of rosé wines are made from a red grape varietal. The varietals most often used in making a rosé wine include: Pinot Noir, Syrah, Grenache, Merlot, Malbec, Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo, Sangiovese and Zinfandel. These varietals may be either used solo or in a blend. Rosé varietals are often country dependent, so a rosado from Spain will often be largely derived from the Tempranillo and Garnacha grapes, while Italy may utilize more Sangiovese for their rosatos and the U.S. would tend to lean towards Cab, Merlot and Zinfandel. Traditionally, the skins of a red grape are allowed to have brief contact with the grape juice. The shorter the contact time with the skins, the lighter the wine’s color will be. Extended time with juice and skins yields some amazing, eye catching color variations from vibrant orangey-pink to nothing less than a vivid hot pink. Sparkling rosés are traditionally made with a blend of red and white grapes, while this practice is usually limited to the sparkling category, it has popped up in production practices for some still rosé wines.