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What’s the Difference Between Rosé and Blush Wine?

by David on December 22, 2010

This is such a common question, and we may as well talk about White Zinfandel while we’re at it. They’re all, essentially , the same thing with very minor variations. The name, rosé, has been around for centuries. Blush and White Zin are 20th century creations.

The first thing to know is that most wine grapes have clear juice, regardless of the skin color. Pink wine is made by getting just a few hours of color extraction from the purple grape skins. When the winemaker sees a shade of pink that he likes, he drains the juice away from the skins. After that, the wine is made in the same way most whites are made. Cool fermentation and, for pink wine, no oak. Traditionally rosé wine is dry.

White Zinfandel, a pale rosé wine made of, primarily, Zinfandel grapes became popular in the 1970s.

Blush wines started popping up in the 1980s for two reasons: White Zinfandel was wildly popular, and there weren’t enough Zinfandel grapes around to meet the demand so they started using other varieties. The second reason is that wine called rosé was a very hard sell in those days while the blush wine flew off of the shelves. The White Zin and blush were and are, usually, slightly sweet and paler than rosé wine. If the label simply says blush or rosé, it’s likely a mix of grape varieties.

You’ve probably noticed that rosé is back in style! The great home of traditional rosé is Provence, in the sunny south of France, and it’s usually dry. The rest of the world may make it dry or slightly sweet.

But, whatever you call it – White Zin, rosé or blush – there’s nothing like a cool glass of pink wine on a hot day!


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