Most people assume that white and red wines are made in more or less the same way, and that the color difference comes from the color of the grapes used. It’s easy to picture white, red, and pink wines being made from the bright-green, dark purple, and lighter reddish grapes we see in the produce aisle. But that’s not how winemaking works. Rosé wines are made from the same dark grapes used for making reds — the difference is in how they are processed. Rosé winemakers begin as though they were making a red wine — crushing dark-skinned grapes and leaving the juice and solids to begin fermenting together. But instead of allowing the wine to continue to completion that way, rosés are given only enough skin contact to provide the desired degree of color. A few hours can give a faint rosy blush of pink; a few days can provide a vivid fuchsia hue. Then the wine is pressed off the grape solids, and fermentation proceeds as it would if it were a white wine — long, slow, and cold to preserve fresh fruit flavor. This hybrid process produces a pink wine that has less natural resistance to oxidation than either white or red, which is why rosés like this classically dry example from Provence taste best in the bloom of youth. Its brisk refreshment and delicate flavors of rose hips, raspberries, and sour cherries will not improve with age.

Château La Gordonne Côtes de Provence Rosé
Courtesy of Château La Gordonne
Château La Gordonne Côtes de Provence Rosé

Château La Gordonne Côtes de Provence Rosé, Provence, France. $12.99 (regularly $16.99; sale price through Feb. 24). PLCB Item #2988.