The Red White

The Red White
Some pink wines today are so dry that they taste slightly more red than white. (Hitdelight/Shutterstock)

Don’t be blue now that the Fourth of July holiday is over, because the season is just beginning for red white.

Warmer weather is the perfect time to break out dry rosé wines, which is admittedly an artificial way of suggesting that there is actually a best time to drink pink. Anytime is fine. I enjoy them year-round, even in cool weather.

But people like to keep up traditions, and rosé is typically a beat-the-heat experience, especially recently, after winemakers worldwide mastered the concept of making them.

Rosé today really is a product of modern winemaking technology, which old-timers may remember. They experienced the bad old days when pink wine was brown. It was usually oxidized and had all the freshness of a recycling can.

OK, that may be a bit harsh, but today’s pink wines are infinitely better than ever, and they’re coming from places that decades ago never even attempted to make them. Most are essentially white wines with hints of color.

Delicate, relatively dry, and loaded with personality, these wines are patio sippers that pair with appetizers and light hot-weather suppers. Or delight sans food.

They can be kept cold without harming their aromas, and they usually have sufficient acidity to remain refreshing even if not stone cold.

I prefer rosés made from grenache, a southern French grape (also in Spain) that usually offers dramatic aromas of cherry, cranberry, strawberry, peach, and other stone fruits. Pinot noir rosés also can deliver gorgeous aromatics.

We have also seen excellent pinks made from various different red wine grapes, such as sangiovese, zinfandel, petite sirah, barbera, and gamay. And pink blends can be fun as well.

There’s a new variant of pink in the marketplace in the last several years. I call them “red whites” because they’re delicate in terms of color, slightly more copper-y than pink, and they usually are very dry.

So dry, in fact, that they taste slightly more red than white. What sets these wines apart, partly, is that they emulate extremely light red wines. They usually have zero sugar.

Those made without any residual sugar and having good acidity may actually have a textural element on the tongue that allows them to work beautifully with rich seafood dishes, like halibut or chicken without heavy sauces.

The bad news for consumers is that wine labels do not use the term “red white” or “white red” (I just made them up), and there’s otherwise no way to determine what’s in each pink wine bottle. Buyers are on their own.

Even the color is no clue. Some pale rosé wines appear to be dry, but unless the back label indicates what’s inside, consumers are clueless. The same goes for darker rosé wines, such as the wonderful 2020 Acorn Rosato ($35) from the Russian River Valley by Bill and Betsy Nachbauer.

That wine (available only at the winery, is bone dry. It’s dark pink and is really a red wine in taste. One sip confirms it. The aroma is wonderfully fruity.
It’s the definitive white red.

Wine of the Week

2021 Quivira Rosé, Dry Creek Valley, ‘Wine Creek Ranch’ ($25): The classic style of this widely distributed wine is precisely what I described above as “white red.” From the winery website: “Rhubarb, watermelon, and white peach are accented by subtle floral notes [with] hints of strawberry... juicy and refreshing with bright, vibrant acidity and lingering red fruit... As the wine warms, up the strawberry character becomes more prominent, [there is a] midpalate richness with cleansing acidity... Goes well with all classic rosé food(s) or just on its own.”
Simply superb. (Bottle Barn in Santa Rosa has it for $17.99. One of the best pink wines I tasted this year.)
To find out more about Sonoma County resident Dan Berger and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at
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