On Wednesdays, we drink pink.

  • Posted on
  • By Amber Hatfield, CSW
On Wednesdays, we drink pink.

If you're a fan of Mean Girls, you get the punchline. If you're not, well, this post is going to give you the hows and whys of pink wine!

There's one thing for certain: rosé has taken the US wine industry by storm in the last five years. You almost can't turn around in a wine shop or grocery store without seeing a bottle of the pink stuff. Despite it's rapidly increasing popularity and corner of the market share, pink wine still gets a bad rap from a lot of people.

To understand why, we have to go back to 1972 and put ourselves in the shoes of Sutter Home's winemaker Bob Trinchero.  At this point in Napa, there was essentially a race for every winemaker to "out zinfandel" each other, and Trinchero had the idea to take the juice (saignée for those of you who want to get technical) that first runs off after crushing the grapes and process it separately from the rest of his Zinfandel crop. The 'free run' juices have limited skin contact and thus do not have as much red color as their traditional counterparts. 

After letting the free run Zinfandel sit in barrels for a few months, Trinchero consulted business partner Darrell Corti, and the two decided to bottle the dry, coarse white and call it "Oeil de Perdrix" in honor of a Pinot Noir rose produced in France. At this point the ATF (these guys are in charge of policing the US wine industry) stepped in and said, "Hey, you can't just put that on a label. You have to tell people what it is." And White Zinfandel was born...

Trinchero skipped the '73 vintage, but produced the wine again in '74 and '75, experimenting with different lengths of skin contact and residual sugar. The resulting 1975 vintage which was blush colored and had ample sugar, sold out quickly. The same thing happened in 1976 and 1977 and 1978... and still happens to this day. Sutter Home's success hinged upon this experimental, originally $3 a bottle project that should have never happened. And in the minds of American wine drinkers, any rosé instantly became synonymous with the Sutter Home White Zinfandel. 

Let's briefly get back to the matter at hand: why is rosé suddenly all the rage in the US? The answer is simple: we're finally catching up to the rest of the world when it comes to the quality and consistency of their pink wine. Rosé from France. Rosado from Spain. Rosato from Italy. It's all well made. These wines have the acidity and citrus tones of white wines while still demonstrating the body and red and black fruit character of the red grapes they are produced from. Imagine it as a Venn diagram; rosé lies perfectly in the middle of red and white wines in both flavor, texture, complexity, and color. This alone makes it an ideal people pleaser.

The shift from our perception of pink wine being like the sweet blush produced at Sutter Home to beautiful, dry wines that are a perfect fit for summer was difficult and largely championed by independent wine shops and restaurants throughout the country. Take a look at our small shop. In 2015, we had about ten rosés that we stocked through the summer that didn't sell very well. In 2020, we've pre-ordered hundreds of cases of rosés from all over the world that we can barely keep on the shelf. In fact, we've already sold through the 2019 release from a couple of our favorite producers and now have to wait until next year to stock that wine again!

If you've been hesitant to dip your toe into the pink colored pool, don't be. We're here to walk you through our options and help you find the pink wine of your dreams! We've got about 30 different selections in stock now with more slated to arrive over the next several months. Simply search for 'rose' from our home page or give us a call, and we'll go over options on the phone. In the meantime, check out some of our staff favorites below. 

Donkey & Goat Isabel's Cuvee - this is not for the faint at heart. In a word, this is the Alicia Keys of wine: naturally beautiful, astoundingly complex, and completely unfiltered. 

Dom Diogo Padeiro Rose - the ultimate definition of a party wine. It is flamboyantly exotic in the way that Carmen Miranda makes everyone want to conga. We probably sell more of this rose than any other pink wine we stock.

Clos Cibonne Cuvee Special des Vignettes - this powerful rose has aging potential that you would never expect. It is class and elegance wrapped in power. It's a limited edition, once-in-a-lifetime kind of rose that you just don't get the chance to taste very often. 

Fossil Point Rose - approachable, easy, breezy, and yet still offering a little something more. This California rose is a relatively new stock item for us and reminds us of Matthew McConaughey... maybe you'll play the bongos naked... maybe you'll just make a weird commercial for Lincoln... doesn't really matter what you do, at the end of the day, everyone just wants to take this wine home.