Often considered to be a minor wine category, and typically scorned by fledgling wine lovers who might feel that it is too unsophisticated, rosé can in fact be one of the most purely pleasurable of wines, and sometimes displays complexity and finesse to match those of good white and red wines. There are three ways to make rosé — whose name in French means "pinked" or "made pink": Conventional rosé is made by crushing red wine grapes but removing the skins from the juice after only a few days; since the color of red wine comes from the skins, the longer they're in contact with the juice, the darker the wine becomes. In France particularly, another means of obtaining lighter-hued wine from red wine grapes is used, called the saignée ("bleeding") method. This involves drawing off some of the still-pink juice to intensify the color, flavor, and aroma of red wine, and then vinifying that juice separately. Finally, though this is usually considered an inferior way of producing rosé, it can be made by simply blending red and white wine together. (A related method, more accepted, is to crush a "field blend" — red and white grapes grown together — but it is still usually necessary to remove the skins from the juice early on.) Some bulk producers, it should be added, produce rosé by decolorizing red wine with a charcoal compound, but this is almost universally frowned upon. Vin gris, literally gray wine, is very pale pink rosé made by removing the red grape skins from the juice immediately after crush. So-called "blush" wines and white zinfandel and its siblings are semi-sweet wines that are rosé in color, but not generally considered true rosé. Some of the best rosés come from Provence (those of Bandol can be particularly impressive), where they are based on grenache and mourvèdre, among other grapes. Increasingly good rosés, from both indigenous and international varieties, are made in Italy and Spain (those of Navarra are particularly well-regarded), and though they are not well known in America, German and Austrian rosés can be superb. Portugal had phenomenal success in the 20th century with its Lancers and Mateus rosés, and a wide range of rosé wines is produced in California, Australia, and South America.

Serve With

Cheese-, meat-, or fish-based appetizers, pasta in tomato sauce, lasagna and other baked pasta, pizza, eggplant parmigiana, pork or chicken grilled or roasted with herbs, and a wide range of vegetable dishes.