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What does Rouge Mean?

This past month I shipped a “Rouge” wine to my Explorations wine club members.

It brought up the most basic question, what is a Rouge wine?

In French, Rouge simply means red.  So Rouge can be any red wine.  In many cases, you’ll see the name Rouge used when the wine in question isn’t able to be identified by any specific varietal.

In the case of last month’s shipment the wine in question was 70% Syrah and 30% Grenache.  To be labeled a Syrah, you would have to have 75% of the grapes be Syrah.  Anything under that needs something that is often referred to as a trade name. Wineries typically use that trade name to make sales, by trying to come up with something catchy, exciting, memorable, etc. Rouge, at least in my opinion, shows that a winery or winemaker is forsaking an easy gimmick and focusing on what’s actually in the bottle. It also means this isn’t ending up at your local grocery store where no one would pick it off the shelf based on it’s marketing acumen.

Lastly, within California there are not a ton of examples of Rouge labeled wines.  The few that I’ve come across are all blends of Rhone varietals and all made by the members of the Rhone Rangers.  That doesn’t necessarily mean anything, but it’s a hint if you find yourself staring at a Rouge wine in the grocery store, or at your local wine store.

 

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