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Ask a Pro: What’s the difference between rosé and “blush” wine?

Q: What’s the difference between rosé and “blush” wine?

A: Same same, but different. With longer days and the promise of warmer weather upon us, pink-hued wines are again top of mind.  

There are essentially three ways of making a pink coloured wine.

1 –  Vin Gris (“gray wine”)  

Very pale rosé wine.  Red wine grapes are lightly pressed and that pressed juice is fermented (without skins) just like white winemaking. The result is a very lightly pigmented wine with an almost greyish hue and delicate flavours.

2- Saignée (the “bleed” method)

Red wine grapes are crushed, but the juice and the skins remain in contact for a short time (2 hours- 2 days) until the desired shade of pink is achieved. A portion of the juice is “bled off” the skins.  That juice is then fermented on its own and this is becomes rosé. Side note – the juice that remains in contact with the skins goes on to make a red wine.

3 – Blending white wine and red wine together.  Some people may consider this cheating but it is a method used for making the Champagne rosé and many new world rosé wines.     

So, where does blush fit in?

A “blush” wine refers to the sweet 1980’s Californian creation known as “White Zinfandel”. Blush wines are actually made by using dark-skinned grapes, a little bit of skin contact for colour, and then fermenting that juice without skins just like a Vin Gris.

What’s different is the style of the wine. Blush infers a jammy, fruit-forward and fairly sweet pink wine, while a rosé presumes that wine has a dry, fresh palate with as well as delicate aromatics and  flavours.

Want to learn more about rosé wines? Read my blog post about rosé wines made around the world here. Or, try one of our new pink wines here. 

 -Alanna McIntyre, certified sommelier and WineAlign judge

Do you have questions about wine, beer or spirits that you’d like us to answer? Send your questions to [email protected] to be featured in a future segment!

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