Spring has sprung, flowers are blooming, our red wines are going back onto the bottom shelf of the wine rack to save for winter and we are making room for our summer favorite: rosé. When you think of a rosé, maybe your immediate reaction is “That’s going to be too sweet for me!” or “Why is this wine pink?”, but jumping to conclusions could have you missing out on some of the best wines you’ve ever had.
Some self-proclaimed “wine experts” scoff at the idea of drinking a rosé, but this light and pink wine has been around as early as the 600 BC. The ancient Greeks began diluting their red wines by mixing it with their white wines, establishing this technique as a sign of prestige and class. This method, along with pressing red and white grapes together during the harvest, remained popular and sustained the demand until the 1940s. Starting in the 1940s, and even through the 80s and 90s, a select few producers opted to substitute quality for sales and began making the sweet, slightly pink rosés and in the long run tainted the name. With the release of Sutter Home’s White Zinfandel, the notoriously sweet pink wine, the perception of the name “rosé” had been changed.
But don’t let the perception of sweet rosés get to you! With the return of French rosés in the U.S. in the early 2000s, the curiosity of Americans was captured once again. Provence, France, to this day is considered to be the Rosé capital, producing some of the most decadent and expensive Rosés in the world, and it was wines from this region that saved the name. For the past 15 years, spectacular dry and medium dry rosés have been released from California, the Finger Lakes, Long Island, Oregon, and so many more places throughout the country using old blending methods and developing new ones.
Through viticulture (the study of growing grapes) and viniculture (the study of growing grapes for wine production) programs in schools like Cornell University in Ithaca, NY, the evolution of winemaking is far from the end. Perhaps the newest method in rosé production has been made possible with modern winemaking advancements and technologies. This method takes red wine grapes and presses them like a white wine, leaving the juice in contact with the skins just long enough to tint the wine but not long enough to give the wine an essence of tannin. Some will say it’s the “true” method of making a Rosé, but the history shows there is no right way to make a pink wine!
Needless to say, this is a trend that’s been around for quite a while and is going to stick around for even longer.