But today, with summer on the horizon, wine lovers from St. Tropez to the Hamptons are stocking their cellars with rosé. So how did the pink-headed stepchild evolve so quickly into the “must have” wine of summer?
Rolle is one of a few grapes used in the production of Provencal Rosé. Rosé sales “have been growing steadily for the past 10 years, and Provençal rosé has been the driver,” says Eric Hemer, senior vice president and director of wine education atSouthern Wine & Spirits, the largest wine and spirits distributor in the U.S.
Provence is considered the birthplace of rosé, and Provençal rosé essentially sets the bar for all the other rosés in the world.
But because of its pink color, it is often associated with white zinfandel, which was invented at Sutter Home Winery in California in the late 1970s. Sutter Home would bleed off some juice to concentrate the aromas and flavors of its finished red zinfandel, and rather than discard the excess, it fermented the juice into the pinkish-white, sweet wine that millions of Americans loved in the 1980s. Sugar levels were kept high to please the palate and to mask flaws in the finished wine. This also allowed for looser production standards.
White zinfandel has the same pink color as Provençal rosé, but that’s where the similarities end.
To understand the significance of rosé's rosy hue, a little background on wine production is required. All wine grapes-- from cabernet sauvignon to zinfandel-- produce a liquid that is clear. But when winemakers make white wine, the grapes are pressed and then just the juice is fermented. But when making red wine, the grape juice that gets fermented will contain bits of the grape, including skin and even stems-- which all accounts for the finished wine’s darker color, tannic quality and more robust body.
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