A Brief History of Rosé
Ah, rosé, our dear summer water. The bubbly pink beverage that we treasure and adore. It’s on every menu and is part of every happy summer memory, but do we really know anything about it? If we’re going to be obsessed with it, we should probably know where it came from. We’ve already explained why the lovely drink is pink and how it’s made, so now we’re going to tell you a little about its history!
To be honest, there is no true origin date of rosé because, at the time, many red wines were the color of today’s rosé, and as they learned new methods of fermentation, they found ways to create the deep, dark reds we know now. In ancient Greece, where all good drinking habits started, it was actually considered civilized to dilute the wine, as no one wanted to be one of those drunk, ravaging brutes. It was the Greeks and the Romans who eventually figured out how to separate their red wines from their white wines but it wasn’t until sixth century BC that the Phocaeans brought grape vines to Massalia in the south of France that the pink rosé blend started being the talk of the Mediterranean.
Provence (a region of France) is considered the birthplace of the French vineyard because of these early plantings from the Phocaeans. Around the Middle Ages, Provencal winemaking really became popular and was even the source of revenue for local monasteries. This trend continued until the 19th century when a very bad bout of phylloxera wiped out Provence and vintners had to start again.
Upon this replanting, French wines started making their way to the United States, especially the idea of “light wine” fermentation, like rosé. By the 1970s, white wines were in such high demand in California, that the state’s winemakers actually couldn’t keep up, so they had to resort to making white wines from red grapes via the saignée method. This method reserves a bit of the juice from red wine in order to concentrate the color, and that reserved liquid is vinified into a light pink wine, which originally became known as “blush wine.”
Sutter Home was one of the first to produce these blush wines but they came out far too sweet and created a distaste and negative connotation for pink wines around the country. Rosé, or any light pink wine, was said to be the drink of amateurs; no sommelier would ever serve it. It wasn’t until the late 2000s when hotels and resorts started importing the real French beverage that Americans began to learn the difference.
In fact, the Hamptons rosé shortage of 2014 is what solidified the fact that Americans love their rosé and thus began the infatuation that we know today.