- Winemaking Basics
- Making Dry Red Wines
- Making Dry White Wines—To Oak or Not to Oak
- Making Rosé, Blush, and Blanc de Noir Wines
- Putting the Bubbles in Champagne
- Fortified Wines: Porto, Sherry, and Madeira
- Dessert Wines Made Eight Ways
- "Reading" a Wine by its Bottle Color and Shape
Making Rosé, Blush, and Blanc de Noir Wines
Rosé, blush, and blanc de noir wines are varying shades of pink. This pink color tells you that all three are made from black grape varieties that release or "bleed" their red color into the juice when they are pressed.
A rosé gets its characteristic deeper rose color from black grapes that have been crushed and fermented with their skins for 24–36 hours—just long enough to turn the clear juice a dark pink color. Then the juice is quickly pressed away from the skins. If the skins had been in contact with the juice for a few more hours, a red wine would have been produced, which is why some say rosé is halfway to being a red wine.
Rosés are much softer than a red wine and do not contain high levels of alcohol or tannin. And they can be made either dry or medium-dry. Most rosés are still wines, meaning non-sparkling, and have lovely berry aromas and flavors from the black grapes used to make them. Sparkling rosés range from expensive French Rosé Champagne to inexpensive Spanish Brut de Noirs CAVA or Italian Prosecco Rosé.
Blush wines are what the French call blanc de noir—white wines made from black grapes, which is how most French Champagne is made. Blush wines were first introduced to the U.S. by Sutter Home winery in California. Sutter Home grew a lot of black Zinfandel grapes (still do) but realized many Americans preferred white wines. So they made Zinfandel as a white wine by pressing the juice from the skins and fermenting it on its own. But just pressing the black Zinfandel grapes produced a blushing pink color in the juice. That’s how White Zinfandel was born and why it’s a blush (pink) wine instead of white. The French also call these blushing pink wines vin gris or gray wine because it’s between white and black (red wine) as we explained in Chapter 2.
Unlike Rosé, which can be dry, blush wines are always slightly sweet, low alcohol, and fruity with blackberry flavors from the Zinfandel. Brunch is a perfect time to serve Rosé wines, especially Pinot Noir or Grenache Rosé, because they go so well with omelets, quiches, or ham and bacon. They are also best served chilled.
Rosés typically are very inexpensive. Sutter Home "Little Pink Box" White Zinfandel sells for $8 retail, which is equivalent to $2 per bottle since the 3 liter box holds as much as four regular-size 750 ml. bottles.
To do list
Learn the 10 steps used to produce Champagne or other sparkling wines in the classic méthode champenoise
Learn how to buy, serve, and enjoy Champagne, and understand when (and if) it’s wise to buy non-standard sized bottles