What is Blush Wine and What Makes it Different from a Red and White?

She's easy to drink, can be paired with essentially any type of meal, is gorgeous, and comes with a supportive army of people who love her. Who is she? She's blush wine. Let's talk about the drink that deserves more love and attention than she's currently getting in the wine industry and by wine enthusiasts! 

What Is Blush Wine?

Blush wines are made in a variety of colors, ranging from light to medium pink. While blush wines can be fruity, floral, and light, they can also be bland. A balanced blush wine has the proper balance between acidity, sugar, and alcohol. This balance brings out its complexity while preventing the wine from being too strong and like a standard red wine. 

How Is Blush Wine Different From Red or White Wine?

The real difference in blush wines versus red and white wines is the winemaking process that happens to create them, particularly the fermentation process. First, let's talk about the differentiation between white and red wine. White wines are made from white or sometimes even black grapes. Then, the juice is separated from the grape's seeds, and skin and only the grape juice is used to make the wine.

In contrast, winemakers produce red wine from both black and red grapes rather than white grapes. Plus, the grape skins and seeds are not removed as they are in white wine. Instead, they are kept inside the stainless steel vats with the juice while they ferment. It is the skin and seeds that create the color and richer flavor in red wines. This is how you will find the different famous types of wine such as Pinot Noir, Sparkling Wine and Pinot Meunier.

This illustrates why red wine has more pronounced and prominent tannins than white wine: red wine, such as Grenache, has contact with the skins, seeds, and stems of grapes, unlike white wine, such as Moscato.

Blush wines share many similarities with white wines. However, blush wines have a slightly more noticeable body, and due to their freshness, they are more likely to be consumed during the summer. Furthermore, a few blush wines with intense coloring can be more similar to red wines in their complexity and structure.

The concept of "blush wine" is actually the outcome of two accidents. Today, we consider these incredibly happy accidents because they gave us blush wine. The first accident occurred when Bob Trinchero, Sutter Home's winemaker, attempted to create a darker, red Zinfandel. He was bleeding off some juice from a fermentation tank because less liquid and more skins create a more powerful ratio of skins to juice, creating a more robust red. This juice was then made into a rosé and marketed like any other pink wine or pale pink color wine. 

The second happy accident (and the impetus of the White Zin rage) occurred when Bob was making rosé from the Zinfandel grape. While he was working away, the tank endured "Stuck Fermentation" this is where the yeast cells decay before the process completes leaving a winemaker with a semi-sweet pink wine. Bob, realizing what he had done, bottled his creation, and rather than calling it rosê, he entitled it White Zinfandel. Even though the grapes were not pressed like with Vin Gris, the results are remarkably similar. 

He named it White Zinfandel for an extremely smart purpose. This was during the '70s and '80s, when the US was a little more reluctant to try new wines or more hesitant than we are now. Therefore, in general, consumers were confused by the notion of rosé. Instead of naming the pink-hued wine rosé, winemakers chose to label their wines as White Merlot and White Cabernet Sauvignon. They just added the word white in front of typical red wines. Although these were just rose wines, it was a lot easier for a consumer to digest, understand, and feel comfortable purchasing and drinking. Because adding white in front of common red wine names did not truly define the color spectrum, Blush stepped up to do the job. 

This method worked until about the 90s, when blush became a trendy term for domestic pink wine. Blush wine gobbled up 22% of all wine consumed in the USA. As our appetites developed and grew, so did our wine market, and France made a statement. The French loved the dry, crisp style of these wines; therefore, by 2014, the blush idea went to the wayside, with US winemakers trying to replicate the French style instead.

Blush Wine vs. Rosé

Many people confuse blush wine and rosé wine, and they believe these two wines are one and the same. Although they share many similarities, there are still some differences.

A less wine-educated person than you or I might try to say that rosé can be made by blending red wine with white wine. This is not true, and so far from the truth that the mixing of red wine and white wine to produce rose coloring is discouraged in most wine regions, and in France, it is even forbidden by law! 

Here is how rosé is created: the skins of red wine grapes touch grape juice for a short time. This is sometimes referred to as maceration, which is more specifically defined as the “softening and breaking down of skin resulting from prolonged exposure to moisture.” So, when any type of grapes is juiced, the juice is clear. Red wines get their coloring because they ferment for weeks on red grape skins soaking up all those tannins. In contrast, rosé wines are only stained with grape skin contact for a few hours under winemakers' careful eye. The more extended time the skins stay in touch with the juice, the more concentrated the wine’s pink coloring will be. 

While this is arguably the most common technique to make rosé, there are other methods. French for 'bleed,' the Saignee method is another process that entails "bleeding" off a portion of red wine juice after being in contact with the skins. Which, if you recall, is how blush wine was created and thus the difference between blush and rose wines. All roses are blush wines but not all blush wines are rose. After grapes are picked at optimal ripeness for red wine creation, the juice is put into a vat with the grapes' skins and seeds. After the juice has been in the vat for a few hours or a few days, a portion of the juice is bled off and ferments without skins and seeds. This type of rose is typically darker and more potent than rosé that has been created from other methods. 

How Do You Serve Blush Wine?

Like rosé wines, blush wines are best when served chilled. The best temperature typically ranges between 40 to 45 degrees. The drier the more complex the rosé wine, the better it is served at a warm temperature. 

What Foods Go Well With Blush Wine?

There isn't a food you could name that wouldn't taste better with a cool, cold glass of Blush wine! Blush wine is one of the easiest wine pairings there are that make wine tasting easy for any occasion.