Pink Wines

‘E’ Wine of the Week

By Bruce Cochran

Hello Everyone,

One of the biggest wine movements in recent years has been a change in attitude toward pink wines, particularly by wine writers. There’s a good reason for this. Whether you call them pink wines, roses, blush wines or very, very light reds, they’re finally back and in a variety of styles from dry to sweet. This is the season to explore them.

Try a new wine this week!


You can call them blushes, roses or pink wines; they’re all just very, very, light reds. They can be made sweet, dry or in between, and they can be made from any red wine grape variety. It has taken a generational change to give roses a chance to regain their place in the wine world, and having them back gives wine lovers today another great option for summer.

Because of the popularity years ago of white zinfandel, most wine drinkers began to think that all roses are sweet. Of course that’s not true at all.

There were two original roses, at least for people alive today. Both are from France, where they are still enjoyed: Rose D’Anjou, a sweet rose from northwestern France’s Loire River Valley made from cabernet franc grapes, and Tavel from Provence in the southeast, a dry rose made from a blend of red wine varieties.

But, leave it to us Americans to create our own version and make it hugely successful.

About 1980, a winery named Sutter Home, which had made traditional dry red wines from the zinfandel grape for half a century, removed the grape skins before they had fully stained the juice and made a pink wine instead of a red one.

Most people know the history of white zinfandel after that. In its heyday, many of them were poorly made, and that hurt their reputation.

Most new wine drinkers — which in the United States meant most wine drinkers — thought that all pink wines were sweet. Dry roses were pushed out of wine stores and restaurants for literally decades.

Ultimately, even sweeter roses were pushed out as well except for white zins from a couple of major brands.

Today there are more options than ever — dry, sweet or in between — and you can probably get one made from your favorite grape. Pinot noir rose, “white” merlot, syrah “blush” — they come with as many names as there are styles.

The good ones have great red wine flavors, just in a lighter style. Even sweeter ones offer more than sugar, a marked departure from the recent past.

And they’re perfect for summertime. Whether you’re out by the pool, over the barbecue grill or sitting in the shade, something chilled just seems like a better idea for hot weather.

Pink wines are great with food, especially lighter dishes. I like them with goat cheeses. And most aren’t expensive. You can find great roses for $10 to $15 a bottle. Wooden Valley’s “White Gamay” is from an offshoot of Napa Valley. Made in a lightly sweet style, it’s actually made with a Rhone variety called Valdiquie (“VAL de GWEE EH”).

Bruce Cochran has traveled to every major wine region on four continents. A 30-year veteran of the wine trade, he taught continuing education wine classes for 26 years at colleges throughout Arkansas.

Categories: Legacy Archive