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Blush/Rose Wine Introduction

by Staff Writer - C. Barnett | May 21, 2012

Most Blush/Rosé wines are slightly sweet, with one to two percent residual sugar. They are excellent as aperitifs (an alcoholic beverage taken before a meal as an appetizer) and some go well with a meal.

To make Blush/Rosé, Wines, the pressed wine juice is only in contact with red wine grape skins for a brief period of time, which gives the wine a light touch of pink color. If the skins are filtered out of the white juice immediately after the grapes are crushed, very little pigment enters the wine. This method works because the pigment is entirely in the grape skins. This process can last from a few hours to several days. It is up to the winemaker to determine how long he wants to wait for a specific color to develop. The little color that develops in Blush/Rosé wines such as varietals like Zinfandel, and the result is a very pale coral, salmon or pink color.

Blush/Rosé Wine Origins

The first Blush wine or Rosé on record in the United States was launched by California's Almaden Vineyards in the early 1940's when the local home-grown winery introduced their Grenache Rosé, a sweetish pink wine. This successful blushing wine helped create an impression that rosé wines equated to sweet wines.

One of the first to combine the word blush with wine was Mill Creek Winery in Sonoma County. It was used to describe a wine that was neither red nor white. Mill Creek's owners, the Kreck family, claimed their ‘blush’ wine as a trademark in 1981. Other wineries had been using the name prior to 1981, but they were required to stop. The ‘House of Seagram’ (which is are a large distillery company) owns Taylor California Cellars, Monterey Vineyard and Sterling Vineyards, challenged Mill Creek’s right to the name in a lawsuit, but then decided it would be less expensive to pay Mill Creek a royalty for the use of the name. Now all wineries using “blush” to name their pink wines must pay royalties to Mill Creek; although in practice the term Blush/Rosé is used generically and few wineries print it on their labels. Instead, most wineries call their Blush/Rosé wines White Zinfandel or Pinot Noir Blanc or Cabernet Blanc. Mill Creek trademarked and owns the word "Blush" as it refers to wine, and was one of the first producers to bottle a varietal merlot. Although Mill Creek Valley might own the name, it was another winery which transported the blush wine name to a higher level and rosés in the United States have not been the same since.

It was Sutter’s Homes accidental introduction of White Zinfandel in the 1970's that got the Blush/Rosé wine movement going forward. While making Zinfandel, the yeast that normally consumes the sugar in the grape juice died. It left a slightly sweet pinkish wine. Sutter Home seized the opportunity, bottled the Blush/Rosé wine, and created a wine market that had not existed before. First Sutter Home and later Beringer helped make White Zinfandel and the wine concept a household name and synonymous with slightly sweet and pink wines with a very thin body.

It is a little known fact that Beringer's White Zinfandel and their other Blush/Rosé wines dominate their marketing mix. They may get their awards for their Private Reserve Cabs, but the winery makes its money on Blush/Rosé wines. Rose’s (as blush wines were termed early on) were quite popular in the United States but fell out of fashion. Then in the 1980s the same wine was used with a different name (blush wine) and it was a marketing success.

Most Blush/Rosé wines are low in alcohol content and sweet. There are many of these styles of wines that are dry. Even though a Blush/Rosé wine has acidity and tannins acquired from the grape skin, its fruit flavor may disappear quickly. This is why you should buy the most recent vintage available. And it is best to serve your Blush/Rosé wine well chilled.

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      Apr 26 2013 8:12 PM
    • I hope all is well. FYI - Enclosed is info about the "First Blush" Rose Wine Competition happening now. This contest is open to any California still (not sparkling) Rose wine and entirely FREE to enter, but the deadline for entry is May 3rd. Full details are below. Feel free to share this info with any and all! Thanks. Cheers, Bob Ecker Director, First Blush Wine Writer/Photographer SATW, NPPA, BATW 4225 Solano Avenue #575 Napa, CA 94558 tel: (707) 421-1701 cel: (707) 771-0911 [email protected] First Annual "FIRST BLUSH" California Rose Competition - No entry fee required! This Rose competition is FREE to enter and invites ALL wineries producing a still (non-sparkling) California Rose to participate by May 3, 2013. Registration: 4/10/2013 - 5/3/2013 Rose Competition: 5/6/2013 Rose Public Event: 6/8/2013 Entry Rules 1. Eligibility Requirements: A) Any still (non sparkling) Rose wine with a California Appellation B) Vintage date 2010, 2011 or 2012 C) Shipping or dropping off of 2 (Two) 750 ml bottles or equivalent to address indicated by May 3, 2013 D) Completion of Official Entry form (submit with wine or by email) E) All entering wineries must provide a minimum of 8 bottles of each Gold Medal winning wine for "FIRST BLUSH" California Rose Event to be held at Meritage Resort & Spa June 8, 2013 2. Entry Date: Entries accepted April 10 - May 3, 2013 3. Due date May 3, 2013 4. Entry Fee: There is no entry fee to enter wines in this competition 5. Shipping Information: Send wines to: Att: Sarah Carter/First Blush Competition The Meritage Resort 875 Bordeaux Way, Napa, CA 94558 707-251-1935 [email protected] AWARDS Prize ribbons will be given out to: Best In Show Award Best in Class Award Double Gold Award Gold Award Silver Award Bronze Award We look forward to your participation regarding this important and often overlooked category of wine. Sincerely, Bob Ecker, Director First Blush Wine Competition 707-421-1701 [email protected] Entry Form First Annual "FIRST BLUSH" California Rose Competition Official Entry Form: *Name and address of winery/wine company______________________________________ *Telephone number/email address_______________________________________________ *Exact California Appellation of submitted wine ­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­___________________________________ *Retail price of submitted wine__________________________________________________ *Percentage of residual sugar____________________________________________________ *Percentage of alcohol _________________________________________________________ *Vintage date_________________________________________________________________ *County of winery/company location_____________________________________________ *Official signature, title and date_________________________________________________ *Category (check one) Dry________________ On the Sweeter Side________________



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