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Sep 14, 2012 03:02 AM

Rosé of red wine grapes

About a month ago I mentioned in a different thread that I had a Rosé of Cabernet Sauvignon from Chile and it was quite nice and paired easily with food. After that I found a Rosé of Cab Franc from France that was also quite nice, though not as darkly and exquisitely colored as the Chilean wine. The French I got was cheap, Le Sauvage brand Cabernet Franc Rosé made in the Loire. This one is also quite nice, quite drinkable, and although squarely in the table wine category, it was remarkably cheap, about US$8 a bottle here in Tokyo.

The question I have is are these rosé wines from red wine grapes a new thing? Both examples I have had have been pleasantly dry but not overly tannic, and both easily paired with food and very drinkable. From now on I will seek out other wines like these.

Have you enjoyed wines like these? Are there any I should look out for?

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  1. All Rosé is made from red wine red grapes, colored through limited skin contact or, in rare cases, the addition of small quantities of red wine. What is new is the marketing by identifying the varietal. While many great rosés were single varietal wines, it is only recently that identifying as such has become common. Of course, much of this is because the wines in question come from the Western Hemisphere, where wines are normally identified by varietal rather than region.

    1. Let me expand upon what dinwiddie has said . . .

      There are primarily TWO types of grape species used for winemaking. Overwhelmingly, it is Vitis vinifera (that would include grapes like Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, etc.). A small amount, relatively speaking, is produced from Vitis labrusca -- native to the northeastern part of North America. Even less is made from French-American hybrids (a genetic cross between the two).

      Labrusca grapes . . . if the skin is dark (tinted), so too is the juice. The only way to make a rosé is to MIX red and white wine together.

      With Vitis vinifera, 98% of the grapes -- regardless of skin color -- have clear juice. The pigmentation is found ONLY in the skins of the grape. To make a red wine, the juice must be fermented with the skins -- during fermentation, the pigment will leave the cells in the grape skin and "color" the wine red. Therefore, to make a rosé, you simply remove the juice from having contact with the skins after ____ hours, once you have achieved the desired level of color.

      5 Replies
      1. re: zin1953

        Thanks dinwiddle and zin1953 for the explanation. Right now I am keeping an eye out for interesting rosé types made from grapes used in popular red wines. Any interesting suggestions?

        1. re: Tripeler

          I would suggest looking for rose wines made from grenache or mourvedre.
          Look for Tavel or Bandol roses.

        2. Glad that you have discovered the beauty of Rosé wines.

          While the French probably have the handle on them, they are not alone. IT and the US, plus OZ and some other Southern Hemisphere countries are exploring them.

          In the US, I like the Beckman Rosé of Grenache, but there are also some interesting Rosés from Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and also Zinfandel.

          I have had several versions on Syrah, and found the FR to be better, but others still have interest, so long as they are fermented to dry, or very nearly so.

          Usually, getting beyond the "stigma" of White Zinfandel is the hard part. Still, there ARE some serious US Rosé producers, if you can find them.

          For French Rosé, I recommend Tavel (several producers), and have yet to find a bad one, though they probably DO exist.

          Good luck, and enjoy,


          4 Replies
          1. re: Bill Hunt

            . . . and let's not forget Spain. ;^) There are some wonderfully charming Rosados produced from Garnacha (Grenache). Very different in character from Tavel (and Côtes-du-Rhône rosés), but excellent with an al fresco meal.

            1. re: zin1953

              Yes! My bad there. "ES" should have been in that lineup too.

              Thanks for that correction.


              1. re: zin1953

                A little late to this thread, but let's not forget the wide range of Italian rosato--from montepulciano d'abruzzo (in Cerasulo d'Abruzzo), sangiovese, nebbiolo, negroamaro (Puglia), gaglioppo (Calabria/Ciro), aglianico, and the corvina blends in Bardolino Chiaretto, among others. And on the light red neighbor fringe, a Grignolino from Asti or Casale Monferrato.

                1. re: bob96

                  These sound really great, particularly for warmer weather. Thanks for the tip on these, Bob.

            2. The original comment has been removed
              1. and keep in mind that color is not necessarily an indicator of quality.

                It was quite interesting to be a judge in a large wine-tasting event and be given 20-some rosés to judge.

                Color, fragrance, and taste are not necessarily connected in any logical manner. We tried several rather insipid-looking samples that were lovely, several beautifully-tinted samples that were insipid on the palate, and a number that had no aroma to speak of, or a wonderful aroma...that might or might not have nice flavor.

                A real wake-up, but an interesting experiment!

                6 Replies
                  1. re: zin1953

                    My palate died at about #18 on the Cotes du Rhone trial (fortunately it was the last session of the day)....reds are really tough. (disclaimer: I'm an amateur, and really enjoy the tastings, but have no belief at all that I could wade through that many samples, and have the deepest respect for those of you who do.)

                    1. re: zin1953

                      I used to do such. Now, I "taste" to decide what I want to "drink." After I find a few, I just excuse myself with those in hand, and enjoy. No more clinical tastings for me.

                      Now, it WAS fun, but it WAS also WORK. Today, it is all about pleasure. [Grin]


                      1. re: Bill Hunt

                        It's only one time a year -- so it's fun.

                        1. re: sunshine842

                          Hey, I think that I could still do at least one analytical tasting per year - but in my old age, have found that "drinking" is much more fun...


                    2. re: sunshine842

                      Oh my word yes!

                      I had a Gigondas that was done as a Rosé, but had hefty body. The "salmon" color did not belie the power that that wine possessed. I was thankful that the vintner did not allow skin contact too long, as the wine would have ripped the enamel off my teeth! As it was, it was great, though a real "sleeper" to the assembled masses, who were caught blind-sided.

                      No color is not usually an indicator of character.