Blush vs Rose vs White Zinfandel

“I like White Zinfandel,” said the lady next to me, almost apologetically. I was on an Alaskan cruise and attended their wine tasting event, and she must’ve felt the need to explain herself, given they weren’t pouring any pink wines and she didn’t taste much of her wine.

Princess Cruises wine tasting event

I was on an Alaskan cruise sailing with Princess.

It was when she said that I was reminded how I asked Instagrammers a few weeks ago, “Any topics you would like to see covered for you wine lovers thirsty to learn some basics?” @superredgirl responded, “Have you done a post about blush vs rose vs white zin?” Not yet, but here it is!

The Difference

Blush and rosé wines mean the same thing. The pink colour is a result of the skin contact from black grapes (unless the wine is a blend of red and white wine, which is the cheapest way to make it). Note, White Zinfandel is a type of blush or rosé, made from the Zinfandel varietal.

Why not just call it one or the other?

Rosé originated in Provence, the south of France. When the US’ wine industry started growing in the 1970s and 80s, they made rosé with Zinfandel grapes and demand was so high, there weren’t enough grapes to meet it, so they started using other varietals. For some unknown reason, marketing it as a blush instead of rosé was more effective, so the term blush stuck. You may have noticed though, that it’s now trendy again to drink rosé.

Rose wine

This rosé from La Stella in the Okanagan is a salmon colour, made from predominately Cabernet Franc grapes. This needs to be consumed in the next few days. Just noticed the vintage date when taking this photo.

In the end…

Whether you call it blush or rosé, you can use them interchangeably. However, one can argue there could be a slight difference, kind of like Syrah and Shiraz. For Canadian and American wines, if the bottle says Syrah, it’s likely to be more earthy and reminiscent of the Old World. Whereas if you see Shiraz, it’s going to be more fruit forward, like what you’d find in Australia. Similarly, White Zins and blush labelled wines usually have a sweetness and are a paler pink. Rosés tend to be dry. Like what you’re reading? Follow me on Instagram for tidbits of wine talk and photos.

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