Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Did You Know?... The Difference Between White Zinfandel and Rosé of Zinfandel

You might recognize White Zinfandel as your mother’s drink of choice. It often comes in a box; it sells like crazy and has done for the past 30 years. It is often referred to as "blush" wine. Sugar is added during fermentation of Zinfandel grapes to produce this sweet drink. Because it is sweet, it is often associated with feminine preference, much like a Cosmo cocktail. (In fact, whenever Nathan orders a glass of rosé, the waiter often gives it to Tina.) We find White Zinfandel to be as sickly sweet, in fact. Not for us, but we recognize their popularity, for good reason. 

White Zinfandel is not to be confused with Rosé of Zinfandel. Rosé to us is a type of production method. It means that the skins of the red grapes are left in the barrel during fermentation just long enough to give the wine its bitter edge to complement its sweetness. While White Zinfandel is also produced this way, wines called rosé are most often produced bone-dry. In fact, their crispness makes for a perfect summer drink. Although you drink them chilled, they retain the meatiness of a red.

Why is this important? Because wine servers and wine shop owners mix up the verbiage. Tina recently made the mistake of accepting a White Zinfandel because it was referred to as a “rosé” wine, and not too long after almost turned down an interesting Cotes de Provence rosé when the server announced the wines as “we have a red and a white zinfandel.” It was neither Zinfandel, nor a “white Zinfandel.” It was a rosé and probably a blend of various red grapes from that region.

To make sure you know what you are ordering, ask the server if the wine is “dry” or “sweet” and then don’t be afraid to ask to see the bottle if your server seems unsure. And of course, try everything, you never know what you might like.

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