Frequently Asked Questions

In short: Rosé = dry. Blush = sweet. The term "blush" is a relatively recent addition to the English-language wine vocabulary, coined in the 1970s by California winemakers to refer to a sweet pink wine, such as White Zinfandel. Rosé, the original pink wine, is nearly always dry, not sweet. The term blush is not used in Europe.

The French have strict standards for how rosé can be made. While many New World wine-producing countries make rosé by blending white and red wine, the French do not.* And while wine producers in some parts of the world may call their sweet pink wine rosé, in Provence rosé indicates dry. * In early 2009, the European Commission proposed new rules that would allow rosé to be made from a mix of white and red wines. Following protests from French wine producers, the European agriculture commissioner withdrew the proposal in June 2009, thus preserving the quality and character of traditional rosé. (The blending of red and white is approved only for the making of pink champagne.)

All fine rosé is made from red grapes in a process that limits the time the skins are in contact with the juice. The red grape skins have time to give off just a little color and tannic content before fermentation. This is in contrast to the red winemaking process, in which the skins steep with the juice throughout fermentation. There are two methods used to remove the pink juice from the skins during rosé production:

1. Direct pressing – In direct pressing, the grapes – either destemmed or in clusters – are immediately pressed in a wine press (pressoir) to release the juice. The pale pink juice is delivered to the fermentation tank. This technique yields a wine that's pale in color, because the skins are in contact with the juice for the briefest period of time.

2. Maceration – This is a steeping-and-draining process. During maceration, the crushed grapes soak in the vat for between two and 20 hours at a cool, tightly controlled temperature. As the juice and skins mingle, the skins release their pigments and aromas. The winemaker tests for color and, determining that the maceration period is complete, opens a filter in the bottom of the vat to drain – or bleed – the juice into the fermentation tank using the force of gravity.

Learn more about the rosé-making process.

No. Rosé champagne is typically made by blending a small amount of red wine into the white wine cuvée to achieve the desired character and shade of pink.

Technically, yes, because a rosé gets its color and character from the pigmented skins. But some red grapes are better suited than others to making a fine rosé. In Provence, the preferred grape varieties for rosé are Grenache, Cinsault, Tibouren, Mourvedre, Syrah, Carignan, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Read about these varieties.

Definitely. Rosé is a versatile wine, dry and fruity, that pairs well with both appetizers and entrees. See our Food & Lifestyle page.

Rosé is a wonderful food wine, as many chefs and wine reviewers attest. Traditionally served with Provençal and Mediterranean cuisine, rosé is also recommended for pairing with a variety of global foods, including Asian, Indian, and North American regional cuisine. See our Food & Lifestyle page.

It's true that Provence rosé tastes great in the sun, which is why it's the number-one wine in the  Côte d'Azur, the birthplace of rosé. It's also true that rosé sales in the United States peak in the summertime. But wine lovers are discovering that "rosé is a summertime wine" is a cliché. As access to Provence rosé grows, chefs are recommending it all year round in a variety of settings – the Thanksgiving table, holiday buffets, Valentine's Day dinners, weddings, ski/spa weekends, picnics, etc. Bottom line: drink what you like, as you like it.

Although experts can make wine tasting out to be complicated endeavor, it is at heart a matter of using three senses: sight, smell, and taste. Look at the wine in the glass – its color and clarity, its shade and opacity. Now swirl the wine in the glass and smell – get a quick first impression, then inhale for a deeper second impression. What scents do you detect? Finally, taste – start with a small sip and let it cover your tongue. Notice the flavor and texture. Now take another sip, taking in some air with it (some say to quietly slurp). See if you notice subtle new flavors. Swallow, and pay attention to the finish, or aftertaste. Experts take notes of their impressions. You may wish to make notes too, to help you discover what you like and dislike in a wine.

Yes. Provence rosé producers recommend their wines be chilled to 45°F to 55°F, similar to a white wine. A typical refrigerator temperature is 35°F, so a rule of thumb is to take the wine out of the fridge 20 minutes before serving to let it warm up just a bit.

A wine bottle labeled AOP (Appellation d'Origine Protégée, or "protected designation of origin") tells you the wine was grown, produced, and tested under the European Union's highest quality standards – standards customized to the geographic region where it was produced. A wine labeled Indication Geographique Protegée (IGP) bears a lower quality classification. IGP wines are controlled for the grapes' place of origin and for the amount of wine produced per hectare.