Random thoughts on the world of wine, presented in no particular order.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A rose by any other name...

White wine is easy to understand -- when you squeeze a wine grape, almost any wine grape, the juice runs white (yes, you could, in theory, make a white Cabernet).  Red wine is a bit harder -- the red color comes from contact with the skins, so you leave them in the mix for a while.  Rose, though, is hardest still -- you have to leave the skins on for just a little while, and the juice is pink.  Note, of course, that this has nothing to do with how much sugar is in the wine; pink ≠ sweet.

Of course, you can also just mix red and white to make pink; this is the easy way out, and it's how some American wineries make their pink wines.  Folie a Deux, for example, makes a rose in their Menage a Trois line that's 2 parts red (Merlot and Syrah, for color and fruitiness) and 1 part white (Gew├╝rtztraminer, for some sweetness).  In fact, this method is also used to make rose sparkling wine -- make the bubbly, then add some red wine at the end to make it pink (everyone from Cava to Champagne does this -- there are some who use the method of leaving the juice on the skins for a bit, but not many, and those are quite expensive).

Many European vintners have complained about the blended roses; they're cheap to produce, and they tend to make all consumers think of rose as cheap pink stuff, not serious wine (how seriously can you take a bottle of $9 wine that's got a punny name, after all?).  The wines produced through the traditional method, of course, are expensive and worthy of consideration, at least in their eyes (and mine, for what it's worth).

So, in the light of the recent EU ban on using certain terms on import wine labels, I felt I had to give the EU their due -- they banned the import of still rose made using the blending method, and the production of blended rose.  Blending is still OK for bubbles, though.

Good for them, for sticking up for traditional methods in winemaking.  Yes, it's a protectionist move, same as the name thing, but in this case it encourages people to make better wine, to treat it as a craft and not a beverage.

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