At what point of color saturation does a rosé become a red wine?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

At what point does a rosé become a red wine? Is there a standard for how dark a red must be?

—Ryan, Canada

Dear Ryan,

Even though “rosé” can refer to a color of wine somewhere between white and red, it’s also accurate to think of it as a style of wine, where red wine grapes are used in a way more akin to white winemaking decisions, including picking the grapes before they are fully ripe to retain fresh acidity. Typically, red wines are made with exposure to the skins all the way through fermentation, but rosés are made with much more limited exposure.

That makes your question practically a philosophical one. There are a few rosés out there that might be darker than some light-bodied red wines. A rosé’s final color depends on several factors, including which grapes are used, and how long the juice was in contact with the grape skins.

In general, lighter rosés will be brighter and crisper than fuller-bodied, bolder, darker rosés.

—Dr. Vinny

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