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Q: Rosé, Blush, White Zin: What’s the Difference?

by David on August 17, 2007

Question from Vic: What’s the difference between Rosé, Blush and White Zin?

Reply: Hi, Vic! Thank you for writing! It’s a good question because those terms are so common, yet it’s hard to see any difference.

Rosé has been around for a very long time and is a generic term for pink wine. There are a few different ways to make it, but still rosé wines (as opposed to sparkling rosés) are usually made by taking just a little color from a dark-skinned grape (the juice of the dark grape is clear in most cases). After that it’s made as you might make a white wine (cold fermentation, usually no oak aging). The depth of color and hue will vary with the variety and with the length of time the juice is in contact with the skins. Any dark variety can make a rosé wine and if there is no varietal designation, along with the term rosé on the label, you can assume it’s a blend. It can be dry or slightly sweet.

“Blush wine” became trendy here in California starting in the 80s once White Zin became fashionable, as a variation on a theme. It was also a time when wines called rosé were decidedly not in vogue here. Blush wines are usually slightly sweet, light pink wines made from varieties other than Zinfandel. It can be varietal or a generic blend and is usually lighter in color than wine called rosé, but there really isn’t any other difference to speak of.

White Zinfandel is a blush wine made from the Zinfandel grape. The requirement here in the US to place a varietal designation on the label, such as Zinfandel, is a minimum of 75%.

You’ve probably noticed that wines called rosé are more visible now, just as wines called blush have become less prevalent. Wine is a very trendy business. We suspect that rosé wine fell out of favor here because old-time California examples were often poorly made, overly sweet and insipid. Recently crisp, refreshing, dry rosé wines have made a real come back, both domestic and imported. It’s great because they’re really versatile with food and just the thing for a hot summer day!

I hope that answers your question! Cheers! Nancy

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