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Ask the Expert: What Makes Rosés Pink?

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Ask the Expert: What Makes Rosés Pink?

In our weekly Ask the Expert series, we tackle all your alcohol-related questions. Want your own question answered? Tweet us @PasteDrink using the hashtag #AskTheExpert

Last weekend was National Rosé Day which meant we all saw an influx of the pink stuff in bars, restaurants, and the interwebs (Check out our recommendations for rosés under $25 here). Rosés straddle the line between white and red wine and can be oh so delicious on a hot summer day.

Not to be confused with white zinfandel (which is also a pink wine, but super sugary and mass produced), rosés often have a crisp mouthfeel and flavors of melon, citrus, and flowers — but that’s not a hard and fast rule. Rosés are made around the world from a wide variety of different grapes.

The pink color comes specifically from how they’re made:

Most people think that rosés are made by taking a white wine and then adding a small amount of red. While that blending method is used by a very small number of wineries, in 99.9% of cases that’s not how it happens.

The most common way rosés get their color if when red grape skins crushed and then left to “macerate” in wine juice. The longer the skins stay in the juice, the darker the rosé will be. Typically that process typically takes somewhere between two and 20 hours, but can last as long as three days. Once that sitting is done, the juice is strained out and then used to ferment into wine. Now would be a good time to note that the juice from all grapes is white. The color in every glass of wine you have comes from the skin, not the juice. That means rosés can be made from any type of grape.

In places like California, some rosés are made when a winemaker bleeds off some of the wine juice from the vat when it’s making red wine. The removal of the juice makes the flavor in the left behind red wine much more intense, and the juice is then fermented into rosé. You don’t see a ton of wines made this way either, but it happens.

Unlike red wines, that rosé on your shelf also isn’t getting any better with age, so go ahead and pop it open and enjoy!

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