Is rosé wine made from pink-coloured grapes? - WineUncorked: Wine Reviews and Tips

It would make sense if pink-coloured wines were made with pink-coloured grapes. Because there are pink-skinned grape varieties as well as the greater number of white and red varieties. But it isn't that simple. Rosé wines - also known as rosato or rosado wines - are made by leaving the red-coloured skins from red grapes within their colourless grape juice.

Because all grape juice is (almost) colourless - no matter what colour of grape it was pressed from. It is the addition of the red grape skins that add the colour - and the longer these skins are left within the juice then the more colour is leached out (these colouring chemicals are known as phenolics). So leave the skins in for just an hour and the lightest colour of rosé wine is produced (the French Provence style) while leaving them in for longer periods (up to 20 hours) produces the darker styles of rosé which can be orange-coloured or even light red.

According to EU regulations, rosé wine can only be made from red grapes. But where there are rules there are exceptions.

Cviček, a rosé wine made in the eastern European country of Slovenia, is made from a mixture of red and white grapes. But this isn't the only permitted exception - rosé champagne can have up to 15 percent still red wine (usually Pinot Noir) added to the final sparkling white cuvée.

Most rosé wines are made from a mixture of the red grape varieties Grenache and Syrah - producing a light strawberry and redcurrant-flavoured wine that has only a passing resemblance to their full red counterparts that can taste of chocolate and black  pepper.

The deeply-coloured Zinfandel grape makes the popular semi-sweet Californian rosé which is confusingly labelled 'white' Zinfandel. White Zin is definitely a pink colour and this naming convention is more about marketing than being helpful. Its origins in the 1970s were a time when white wine ruled in California and so to sell this wine-making mistake (the original batch was intended to be a red wine but the yeast used to ferment the juice stopped working half way through) a cunning label name was used. And it worked. Zinfandel is part of the huge rosé success story which has seen a 40% rise in global consumption since 2002.

But what about those pink-coloured grapes that don't make pink wine? They are generally used to make white wine. Leave out their dusky pink-coloured skins from the fermenting juice and you end up with white wines such as German Gewürztraminer (the 'spicy' Traminer) and Pinot Gris ('grey' Pinot grapes have a grey-pink tinge and are also known as Pinot Grigio).

But leave the pink skins in with the grape juice and the result is blush wines. Pinot Grigio Blush has added itself to the rosé wine scene (found in many UK supermarkets) while a few winemakers are experimenting with rosé Gewurztraminer - which is a cross-over with the newer category of orange wine which leaves the grape skins of white grapes to ferment with their juice.

Argentina grows its own pink-skinned grape called Cereza, which although is second-only to the better known Malbec in terms of area planted, is often mixed into grape blends to make cheaper wines. But you can try this cherry-cola tasting variety for yourself - The Whisky Exchange (better known for selling Scotch whisky) has Cereza Cara Sucia Durigutti 2019 for £11.95.


Top rosé wine reviews on


Jules Cotes de Provence 2019 rosé

£10.38 Cambridge Wine Merchants

4 star rating


Peyrassol Cotes de Provence 2019 rosé

£13.99 Majestic

3 star rating


Finca Manzanos Rioja Rosado 2019

£9.99 Virgin Wines

4 star rating


Roodenberg 2019 rosé

£6.99 Aldi

4 star rating


Maison Sur le Littoral 2019 rosé

£5.99 Aldi

3 star rating

Latest wine reviews

Email newsletter

Get the latest wine reviews
and tips straight to your inbox


About WineUncorked and its editor, Paula Goddard Read more