Northwest Rosé: Embrace the Pink

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Until recently, Rosé has suffered from an image problem.

It’s pink, and it gets a bad rap. But rosé isn’t just for the ladies of the 80s anymore.

Rosé is often stereotyped as a white zinfandel but that’s just one varietal in the rosé genre. In reality, a rosé is made with any red wine grape – could be Malbec, Petit Verdot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Sangiovese or any other for that matter. While the White Zin is sweet, these others can vary in character and are often dry and crisp; perfect for Spring or Summer sipping.

We spy a resurgence and hope to convert more than a few skeptics.

Why are we talking about Rosé right now? 

This week, we crushed and de-stemmed the Grenache. Grenache, (pronounced gren-aash), is considered the most widely planted red wine grape in the world. It is most common in Spain and the Rhône Valley in France. Chateauneuf de Pape is often at least 80 percent grenache. We bought our grapes from the Spice Cabinet Vineyard in the Columbia Valley, Washington State where the summers are long, hot, and dry – a perfect place because the fruit requires a long growing season and ripens late.

Is a rosé a red or a white? 

We pulled about 50 gallons of the grenache juice and set it aside to make our own Small House Rosé. The rosé juice sits on the skins for a day, so it extracts a smaller amount of color, giving it the pink and presenting dudes with the issue of holding a glass of pink in their hand. (For reds, the grapes often sit with their skins for anywhere from 10 to 30 days.)

It differs in taste as well. With less contact with the skins, the wine will have less tannin structure meaning less of that acidic or sometimes bitter quality. These qualities are actually desirable and often present in a Cabernet Sauvignon, which is a bigger wine and often paired with a steak or a red meat that would stand up to it. Because of the shorter contact period with the skin, rosés will have a similar but  more subtle flavor profile to it’s red wine counterparts.

When I asked Patrick what he envisioned the characters of this rose being he said, “arrogant.” OK, then.

And then he responded seriously. He said it’s hard to tell one year to the next. You just don’t know – it depends on so many factors like the growing season and what happened with the weather.

Most of you are more than likely shifting to reds this time of year, but while we have Rosé on the brain, we thought we’d share a few of our favorites now. We’ll bring the topic back up in the Spring and make some pairing recommendations. The beauty of it is, they are $15 and under:

  1. Smasne Cellars Farm Girl Rosé, Yakima Valley. Like a skip through the strawberry patch.
  2. Charles and Charles Rosé, 2011, Columbia Valley. Citrus, and melony, summery goodness. $12
  3. Cinder Dry Rosé, 2011, Snake RIver Valley, Syrah. Mineral, dry, elegant, cool. $15
Have any favorites you’d like to add to the list?
Thanks for reading.This post was written by Lisa Gerber as dictated by Patrick Werry. Please share your comments and questions below. We love hearing from you.
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Fine. I've run from Rose for years but my admiration for Small House Winery will nudge me into pink wine territory. From the taste descriptions, I think I'll most enjoy the Cinder Dry Rose so I'll start there and report back. 


  1. […] You may not have heard much about Grenache. It’s a grape varietal typically found in red wine blends, rather than just on its own. It’s best known for being the predominant varietal in Châteauneuf-du-Pape but it is also widely used in Australian blends and in Spanish and French rosés. […]