Rosé 101

By Chuck Kanski, Solo Vino Wines


In anticipation of Solo Vino’s annual Rosé Tent Tasting this weekend we offer a refreshing glance at the wonderful world of rosé.

Rosé is perhaps the most misunderstood variety of wine. There is a portion of the wine drinking community that believes that all rosés are sweet. Some think of Lancers and Mateus, or maybe even White Zinfandel.

Instead, I want to discuss Mediterranean-style dry rosé, because here’s the deal: the white wine drinker and the red wine drinker will ALWAYS meet at rosé.

Why is that? Because the enjoyment of wine is really about the expectation of flavor. Why do I drink coffee and not much tea? Why does someone prefer Bordeaux to Burgundy, or choose wine from California and not Spain? Because we develop preference to specific flavors.

White wine drinkers like white because of its flavor – mostly acids and esters. (Esters are when an open acid hooks up with an alcohol molecule during the fermentation process). The red wine drinker enjoys phenols. These are flavors reaped (along with many other goodies) from the skin particles of the grape. Contact with skins is also how red wine receives its red color.

Now here’s where it gets fun…

A white wine drinker looking for their favorite flavor profile tries a glass of red wine. The heavy phenol flavors are so strong that they cannot find the acid/ester flavors that they like. They become disappointed so they go back to white wine.

White wine drinker –> tries red wine –> finds phenols –> can’t find acids –> sad

Conversely, a red white drinker trying a white is instantly disappointed since no substantial amount of skin/tannin particles exists in this style of wine. White wine production methods typically separate the juice from the skins as soon as possible. They get bummed so they grab a glass of red.

Red wine drinker –> tries white wine –> can’t find phenols –> finds acids instead –> sad

So, how can we get these two people to enjoy the same bottle? We can blend red and white wine! We can take red skinned grapes and produce it in a white wine style (this is often called a dedicated rosé). Or we can take a break during the process of making our big, bold reds and bleed some of the juice off, also called saignée!

Any wine drinker –> tries rosé wine –> finds acids, esters and phenols –> very happy

There is much more to this topic of enjoying reds & whites vs. rosé, but the basic information about WHY we like the white or red wines is important.

One final note…wine reflects the people! So if you like Shiraz, drink rosé from Australia. If you like Bordeaux, drink Bordeaux rosé. If it’s Pinot Noir that you enjoy, a wonderful vin gris or Pinot Noir rosé is the wine for you. Follow the grape, region or country of the red wines that you like, and I guarantee you’ll enjoy the rosés!

Peace, Chuck

About Solo Vino

Solo Vino is an independent bottleshop located in the Cathedral Hill neighborhood of St. Paul. Our inventory is always changing to keep up with the fast moving world of wine, beer and spirits.


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