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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. 

 -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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