Pink-hued wines go by many names: rosé, vin gris, rosato, weissherbst and blush, to name a few. Consistently popular in parts of Europe for its versatility and refreshing quality, blush wines are often looked down on in the United States. The lasting backlash against pinks goes back to the 1980s, when poor quality, overly sweet White Zinfandel became ubiquitous. Despite its reputation, pink wine can be complex and is often dry. There are certainly many high-quality pink wines.
A true rosé is essentially a wine that has been made partly like a red and partly like a white. During the fermenting process, the skins of the grapes are left in for just a short time, as opposed to the long soak for dark reds. The result can be dry to lightly sweet and fruity.
Blanc de Noir
Blanc de noir (literally “white black”), sometimes called vin gris (“gray wine”), are wines made of dark grapes with the skins removed at the beginning of the fermenting process, then made like a white wine. Blanc de noirs are often quite dry and complex.
Originally a type of blanc de noir, white zinfandel uses a slightly different process that allows more sugars to remain, producing a sweeter, lower alcohol content wine. Stereotypically, white zinfandel is known as a cheap California jug wine for non-wine drinkers; however, there are high-quality white zinfandels from California and beyond. In Europe, white zinfandel is known as primitivo.
Some pink wines are made by blending white and red wines together, such as chardonnay and merlot. Although often considered a cheap way to make blush, blending wine is an art that can produce high-quality results when done well.
Also known as pink “champagne” and pink spumante, sparkling wine is made either by using a special fermenting process such as the French méthode champenoise or the German transfer method, or by carbonation injection.
According to Kelly Magyarics of Wine Enthusiast Magazine, the first true champagnes were produced in a way that gave it a pink hue, making blush bubbly closer to the original than some may think.
References and ResourcesWine Enthusiast: Drink Pink
Forbes: Five Reasons to Drink Pink Wine
Wine Institute: California Rosé and Other Blanc de Noir Wines
Robert Goodman Wines: Getting to Know Zinfadel
Professional Friends of Wine: Sparkling Wines
ResourcesThe Rosé Avengers and Producers
WineMaker: Grape/Non Grape Blending