It’s everywhere, and has been so for quite some time now. Many an experienced wine drinker started out on this easy wine. In fact, many American drinkers were coaxed away from tacky cocktails and onto wine via this blush-pink gateway-glug, whether it was from a bottle or (most likely, a three-liter box).

It’s maligned and ridiculed, is White Zin; it even started out by accident, but it paved the way for the rosé revolution that we’re experiencing now.

How White Zinfandel started

In the 1970s North Californian wineries were having trouble making deep red wines, especially when they used Zinfandel grapes. One idea was to remove some of the juice from the fermenting red wine while it was still in contact with the grapes. This made the pigment more concentrated, which was what everyone wanted. The poor drawn-off blush Zinfandel juice either got discarded or was subject to a comedy fermentation for people who didn’t really like wine.

In stepped Darrell Corti

A Sacramento grocer with a real zest for life and food, Corti brought balsamic vinegar and truffles to American attention in the 1960s. He was also a champion of Californian wine.

Corti sold the produce of several wineries in his stores, including Sutter Home (which grew into Trinchero Wine Estates). One year, Sutter Home’s dry White Zin stuck – not all the sugar was converted – so the winery ended up with a sweet rosé instead of a dry white. No-one else wanted it, but Corti saw something in it.

And it sold – to the extent that Sutter Home didn’t make another dry White Zin and every wine shop carried it. White Zin is still one of the most popular wines in the US.

Rosé rose through the ranks

Once White Zin had worked its way into the hearts and minds of US wine drinkers, by the 1980s, rosé started to change. Importers brought dry pink wines from Europe – Provence in particular – and people realised that there was more to it; it could actually be complex and sophisticated. This meant that local wineries started to take it more seriously and looked at using grapes that were specifically for rosé, rather than using the drained-off pink juice of the 1970s.

Rosé today

Now, White Zinfandel is back in the fold, with Turley Wine Cellars declaring it to be a dry white. There’s also a few more White Zinfandels that sport the label of Rosé of Zinfandel.

So, when summer approaches and you see the pink pyramids of bottles start to form in your local liquor shop, grab one and celebrate one of our happiest accidents!