Is it true that white Zinfandel is a white wine that only uses skins of red Zinfandel grapes for color?

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Dear Dr. Vinny,

I have a bet—a friend who likes white Zinfandel (yes, she’s still my friend) tells me she has a new favorite: white Merlot. I told her the only difference is the type of grape skins used to color it. It’s still cheap, excess white wine that uses red grape skins for color, right?

—Joseph F., Bonita Springs, Fla.

Dear Joseph,

I’m afraid you’re wrong—and please don’t hate on white Zinfandel drinkers. There are some very cool people enjoying those wines (like me, when I was in college). Let me help you understand how rosés are made. There are two main ways: either blending red and white wine together, or the more common method of making it from red wine grapes, but with limited exposure to the skins so the color stays pale. Since Zinfandel and Merlot are both red wine grapes, a “white” version of the wine indicates the second method was used.

It’s not fair to categorize all of these wines as cheap excess, and I’ve never heard of a white wine steeped with red wine grapes as a method to make a rosé. It’s true that there are a lot of rosés in a simple, sweet or slightly sweet style, but there are some very delicious (and dry) rosés out there, too.

—Dr. Vinny

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