Warm weather is the time to enjoy pink wines, and Texas is now producing some of the best available. These pink wines can be dry, off-dry (slightly sweet) or medium-dry (even more sweet) to provide great warm-weather enjoyment for picnics, deck-sitting or lazing about the pool area. And, don’t forget, they can take the place of white wines and many lighter reds at the mealtime table.
There are two primary ways to make pink wine. Since color components are primarily in the skin of a grape, contact of the essentially colorless grape juice with the skins of a dark purple or red grape for a short period (4-12 hrs) will produce juice with a light-to-dark pink color. Interestingly, a winemaker recently intimated that the 7-9 hr drive to bring grapes from vineyards on the High Plains to the Hill Country is often enough time to develop sufficient color for a rosé wine. The juice is pressed away from the skins and fermented like a white wine at cool temperature (55-60 degF) to produce a rosé wine that is usually aged several months in stainless steel tanks before being filtered or racked clear of sediment and bottled.
A second approach is to blend white wine with red wine (typically 5-10% red) until the appropriate pink color is achieved to produce a blush wine. Very often blush wines are made in a sweeter style, containing 1-6% residual sugar, and are best enjoyed as aperitifs or with spicy, peppery foods like Thai or Mexican cuisine.
A couple of special notes about rosé wines follow. White Zinfandel, a rosé produced from dark, purple-black Zinfandel grapes, was invented and popularized nearly 3 decades ago by Bob Trinchero at Sutter Home Winery in California. White Zins from Sutter Home and Beringer still have a BIG presence in today’s wine market. Also, there is another clever way for a wine maker to get pink juice from red grapes – a procedure called saignée, a French term that means “bleeding.” After crushing red grapes and putting the must (juice + skins + seeds) into a fermentation vessel, a portion (typically 5-15%) of the juice is allowed to bleed off and is collected for production of a richly flavored rosé wine.
Pink wines are designed to be as bright and refreshing as white wines, but with more depth of aroma and flavor to interest red wine enthusiasts. Freshness in rosé and blush wines are a hallmark characteristic, so they are not made to age for any significant period – typically no longer than it takes to bring them home from the store or winery (lol).
Several pink wine options are available at 4.0 Cellars. Lost Oak Winery Rosa Blanca, Vintage Lane Hummingbird and Brennan Vineyards Comanche Rose are off-dry. McPherson Cellars Shy Blush and Les Copains Rosé are sometimes available. Brennan Vineyards just released a delicious mourvèdre-cinsault rosé, and Lost Oak Winery has blended Blanc de Bois, Muscat and Merlot into a tasty Dry Rosé. One final option to consider is Lost Oak Winery’s medium-dry Frizzante Moscetto (sparkling wine) made from Dolcetto and Muscat.