What is Rosé? An Essential Guide to Pink Wine

There’s a common misconception that Rosé is exclusive to the Spring and Summer seasons. 

We’re here to say: it’s not true! Rosé wines are so versatile they can be enjoyed all year round. 

One could easily send a bouquet of pink Rosé wine instead of roses to their loved one during chilly February. 

So put on your Rosé colored glasses, it’s time to dive into our essential guide to this trendy pink sipper.

What is Rosé? Infographic

A Brief History of Rosé Wine

While we don’t know when the first official Rosé was produced, we have the ancient Greeks and Romans to thank for the O.G. blush wine. Winemaking practices from the pre-middle ages differed greatly from modern practices and resulted in lighter, fruitier styles of wine. The juice was immediately pressed and removed from the grapes instead of being soaked in the grape skins, stems, and seeds.

The ancient Greeks are also thought to have added water to their wine to purify it for drinking, resulting in a pink wine.

Rosé is thought to have originated in the modern-day South of France.

After decades of gaining popularity throughout Europe, Rosé resurfaced in the United States during the late 90s and early 2000s. 

In 2015, “brosé” became a viral hit, resulting in different variations of the wine becoming popular once again.

We now know where Rosé comes from, so let’s see how it’s made in the modern era.

Wine grapes

How is Rosé Wine Made?

Like red and white wine, Rosé undergoes the same winemaking process with just one major difference: grape skin contact. In fact, Rosé is produced from the same grapes used to make red wine. The most common grapes include Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, and Pinot Noir

There are actually four different methods for making Rosé:

1. Maceration

After harvesting, the grapes are crushed and left to soak in the grape juice (or must). This is the first step of winemaking and is called maceration. White wines macerate for as little as a few hours or not at all, giving them a golden yellow to clear hue, while red wines may macerate anywhere from a few weeks to a few months, giving them that dark red color. 

If you’ve ever seen an orange wine, it’s actually from the white grape skins being left to macerate for a longer time.

Rosé, on the other hand, is only in the skins for around 2-20 hours, giving it a lighter reddish/ pink color. Macerated Rosé is the most common and bears the darkest shade of pink compared to other types.


After maceration comes fermentation, which allows the grape juice to sit while natural yeasts convert grape sugars into alcohol. Like many delicate white and sparkling wines, Rosé usually ferments in stainless steel tanks to preserve its gentle aromas. However, there are some instances where a combination of oak and steel aging is used. 

2. Saignée Method

A less common method that involves “bleeding off” a portion of red wine grapes during fermentation and using it to make Rosé.

3. Direct Press

This process involves draining the pressed juice from the grape skins immediately, resulting in a blush wine with light pink hues and a brighter, more zingy flavor profile. 

4. Blending

This method involves blending white and red wine to make Rosé, which is most common when making rose Champagne and sparkling Rosé.

Now that we know how Rosé wine is made, let’s address the question on everyone’s mind regarding this fruity sipper. 

Pouring two glasses of Rosé wine

Is Rosé Wine Sweet?

With its fruity, thirst-quenching nature, it’s easy to assume at first glance that Rosé is always a sweet wine. But whether or not Rosé is sweet depends on the type of grape and the natural residual sugars left behind during fermentation. Grenache Rosé and blush wines made from Tempranillo, Syrah, Sangiovese, and Pinot Noir are all on the drier side. 

Sweet Rosé styles like Pink Moscato, made from Muscat Blanc grapes and a dash of Merlot, boast delightfully syrupy textures, making it a popular choice for dessert wine. 

So yes, Rosé is a sweet, dry, and off-dry wine, depending on the style. Your favorite pink-colored wine from the grocery store will often taste dry to off-dry with floral notes and a smooth mineral finish. 

Sweetness levels will also depend on the wine’s age, as younger Rosé will taste much sweeter than aged Rosé.

We’ve peeked at the nuances of Rosé wine’s sweetness levels, so let’s look at the different types of Rosé out there.

Types of Rosé Wine

With so many styles of Rosé out there, here are the top eleven you should pay attention to:

Dry Rosé

1. Provence Rosé 

Primarily produced in the Provence wine region (hence the name), this style of Rosé is known as one of the most versatile. With strawberry and rose petal flavors and a mineral aftertaste, this blushing sipper can complement many cuisines ranging from simple and fresh to more complex, savory, or sweet.

The tannins and acidity may make your mouth pucker initially, but a balance of secondary flavors like watermelon, celery, and melon bring it all together.

A blend of grapes like Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah, and Mourvèdre is what gives this Rosé its crisp, dry taste.

2. Grenache Rosé 

Popular in France and Spain, Grenache Rosé is bursting with red fruit flavors and best-served cold. With balanced acidity and tannins, this style emits orange, hibiscus, strawberry, and watermelon flavors. 

3. Sangiovese Rosé 

Fruity and dry with rose petal, green melon, strawberry, pomegranate, and cranberry notes with an acidic finish, Sangiovese Rosé gives tastebuds a wake-up call with its brightness and intensity. This Rosé style is most commonly found in Italy.

4. Tempranillo Rosé 

Savory and dry with a fruity yet meaty profile, this Spanish Rosé is an excellent choice for adventurous wine tasters. Its watermelon, raspberry, green peppercorn, and grilled chicken taste make it a perfect companion for summer barbecue. 

5. Syrah Rosé 

Bold and dry with olive, cherry, red pepper, lime, and cured meat notes, this style of Rosé is robust and full-bodied, so there’s no need to serve it chilled like other Rosé styles. Like Tempranillo Rosé, Syrah Rosé is another fun choice for daring wine enthusiasts!

6. Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé 

Savory and dry with blackberry, black currant, cherry, and spice notes, this style is the most similar to red wine yet more acidic than classic Cabernet Sauvignon. If you love red wine but aren’t sure about lighter styles, Cabernet Sauvignon Rosé could be the perfect choice as you begin your blush wine adventure. 

7. Tavel Rosé 

Savory, rich, and dry, Tavel Rosé is unique with its earthier, nuttier qualities. If you prefer lower-alcohol wines with sweet and savory flavors, this style is the perfect twist of intense fruit and earthy notes. 

8. Rosé Champagne

Also known as sparkling Rosé and made from blended red grapes, its powerful strawberry and raspberry taste makes it stronger in flavor than traditional Champagne. 

9. Mourvèdre rosé

Full-bodied with floral aromas and rich cherry, smoke, and meat flavors with rich plum secondary notes, this style of Rosé is an excellent treat for experienced sippers and pairs well with Mediterranean cuisine. 

Sweet Rosé 

1. White Zinfandel

No need to bring the candy with this Rosé, as white Zinfandel is incredibly sweet with lemon, melon, strawberry, and even cotton candy notes. With delightful acidity that brings balance to its sweetness, this wine is a perfect cure for any sweet tooth.

2. Pink Moscato

With an amazingly low alcohol content of just 5-7%, pink Moscato is an easy sipper with delightfully sweet fruit flavors. It’s perfect for both the experienced Rosé connoisseur and casual sipper. 

Best Rosé Food Pairings

Rosé’s light and fruity nature makes it perfect for enjoying with light cuisine or as an aperitif. This wine shines in the Spring, Summer, and early Fall when paired with charcuterie boards, fresh fruit, or spicy barbecue at outdoor gatherings. Drier styles of Rosé taste decadent with light pasta, fresh seafood, and garden salad.

Couple smelling Rosé wine

Say “Yes” to Rosé!

If you’re unsure which wine you’re feeling, why not try a blend of red and white wine with fabulous Rosé?!

Shop Rosé and sparkling wines to your heart’s delight!

Check out The Wine Blog to inspire your next wine tasting.

Hurray for Rosé!