When I first got into the wine industry a few decades ago, rosé was anything but cool. White Zinfandel from California made the public think that all rosé was sweet, and unfortunately, imports such as Royal Lancers from Portugal and wines such as Sutter Home White Zin confirmed this notion.
Today, however, rosé is the second fastest growing segment of the wine market – the United States is the second largest rosé consuming country in the world, following France of course! It accounts for nearly 10% of all wine made worldwide. You’ll find rosé at high-end restaurants and corner grocery stores alike.
The dry rosés from Provence did more to change people’s perception of pink wine than anything else. Domaine Tempier’s Bandol rosé started to have a huge cult following in the 90’s and other producers from this area were able to ride its coat tails.
There are a few ways to make rosé. One is to “bleed” some of the juice from red wine during the maceration process. This is called “saignée.” It also serves the purpose of concentrating phenolics in the red. Instead of just discarding the left over wine, some wineries bottle it as rosé. Lightly pressing red grapes to extract just enough color to give the wine a pink hue is another method. This is how “vin gris” is made. Of course mixing red and white wine together is another way.
Most rosé made in the United States is still sweet and that might account for why imported rosé sales are growing while domestic rosé sales have gone down. However, there has been a proliferation of dry rosé made in California and many of these wines are every bit as good as the pink wines other countries have to offer.
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