Pink Wines – Hot in Texas (Update 2019)
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 sweeter) 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, and some neat variations on the themes. For most grape varieties, any color components are in the skin, so contact of the essentially colorless grape juice, after crushing, 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 6-7 hr drive to deliver 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. These rosé wines typically have a pinkish-orange color.
One variation on this theme is a clever way for a wine maker to get pink juice from red grapes while at the same time enhancing the color and extractable components for a red wine. This procedure is 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, and typically darker colored rosé wine.
Another variation on this theme of getting pink wines directly from red grapes involves direct pressing of just-picked grapes with as little skin contact as possible. This typically creates the lightest color for a rosé wine, usually a very soft peach-like or salmon hue. Again, the fermentation is done at cold temperatures similar to that for a white wine.
The second approach to making a pink wine is to actually blend a bit of red wine (typically 5-10% red) with white wine until the appropriate pink color is achieved to produce what may be more technically classified as 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. These rosé wines most often have a bright, hot pink color.
A couple of special notes about rosé wines follow. White Zinfandel, a rosé produced from dark, purple-black Zinfandel grapes, was invented and popularized over 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.
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 dry pink or rosé wine options are available at 4.0 Cellars, including:
Brennan Vineyards Mourvèdre Dry Rosé 2017 Comanche County Texas
EVS Windblown Rosé (by McPherson Cellars) 2017 Texas
Lost Oak Winery Mourvèdre Rosé 2017 Texas High Plains
4.0 Cellars Mourvèdre Rosé 2017 Texas High Plains
Sweeter rosé options available in the 4.0 Cellars tasting room include:
McPherson Cellars Shy Blush
Austin Street Comanche Rose (by Brennan Vineyards)
Vintage Lane Hummingbird (by Lost Oak Winery)