What’s the Deal with Rose Wine?

Now that we are entering the warmer months, when we do more entertaining and lounging out on the patio and decks, a particular type of wine seems to appear in more and more glasses.  These wines fall under the broad category of Rose.  But what is Rose exactly?  How is it made?  It looks like a sweet & fruity wine, is it?  These are probably some of the more common questions that we have asked about Rose.  So I decided to do some research and get clear understanding of the wine that is Rose.

What is Rose?

Rose wines are generally translucent wines that have a distinctive pinkish hue that can be quite pale in colour all the way to an extremely vibrant pink.  When you see one, you know it is definitely not a white, but at the same time is just too light to be a red.  Until about two decades ago, most Rose wines were made by  adding a small amount of red wine to a white wine.  Unfortunately, this really didn’t produce wines of great quality…fortunately, this method is rarely practiced today.  Most of today’s Roses are made exclusively from red wine grapes such as merlot, cabernet, and zinfandel to name a few.  Instead of fermenting these grapes with the skins for a couple of weeks  as you would for a red wine, these grapes will ferment with the skins for up to 36 hours which allows just a touch of colour into the wine.  That in a simple sense is how Rose wines are created.


Are they sweet?

This is the biggest misconception about Rose wines.  This idea that all pink wines are sweet has likely stemmed from a rash of White Zinfandel wines that were deliberately sweetened to broaden their appeal to certain demographic – particularly more novice or beginner wine drinkers.  There is nothing wrong with these wines, but they have painted an inaccurate picture for all Rose wines.

In France, Rose wines have always been produced in a dry style to be enjoyed on bistro patios in the warmer months.  This style is one that many new world wine regions now try to emulate such as in Australia and more locally in Niagara & British Columbia.  These drier Rose wines that are made from red wine grapes can provide great depth of flavour and are equally tasty enjoyed on their own or with lighter fare…especially on a hot summer day.


So if you have been neglecting Rose, give it another try this summer.  There are some delicious bottles out there.  Try a new one each weekend, see what style you like, and make it a new summer staple out on your back patio.

How do you feel about Rose wines?  Any favourites or suggestions?