The classy and fascinating back story behind pink champagne

This article at Lapham's Quarterly by Peter Foges has me rethinking my biases against rose champagne — a drink I tend to associate with undergrads and poorly conceived 7-Up cocktails. Turns out, the history (and the chemistry) of rose are totally fascinating. Traditionally the quaff of queens (and really, really, really high-class hookers), real rose is surprisingly difficult to make, relying on a process that could, with just a small error, go wrong and leave you with a drink that is red, brown, or even blue.


  1. You should visit the Champagne region of France and tour the Avenue Champagne in Epernay. Walk from champagne house to champagne house and tour the cellars of Moet and many other famous houses. Here are some photos of our last trip there:

    Nothing like a great vintage rose…especially drinking it in a room that sits above 16 million bottles of champagne just waiting for their turn to come upstairs. 

      1. About 4 rows down starts the Pommery caves. The caves are carved out of the chalk and the artwork on the walls was commissioned by Pommery over a hundred years ago. This photo is the vault where some of the oldest bottles are kept 

        Here’s a photo to give you an idea of the scale of some of these bottles:

        The stairway down into the caves

        And many more…

  2. What?

    Pink champagne is the good stuff. Try a bottle of Dom Ruinart or La Grande Dame or Krug Rose. They are spectacular. (And so are the prices.)

    1.  If you can get there, the rose champagne from the vintner Francoise Didier in Cormicy is wonderful and very reasonably priced to boot.

  3. Thanks of the tip. There must be hundreds of champagne houses, but so many have limited production or limited distribution, so finding something beyond the big dozen or so is a matter of luck and recommendations. When it comes to champagne, we are always on the lookout.

  4. Am i the only one intrigued by the idea of blue champagne? Tried doing a quick search and couldn’t find anything on any vitners purposefully crafting a blue hued one, though if this is truly the case then are there any reasons for blue in a champagne to be undesirable?

    1. I’m willing to bet the blue color comes with some other undesirable characteristics. There’s a red plant pigment found in lot of fruits and veg, including grapes, that changes color based on PH.

      If the blue color is a result of a PH change then it would definitely effect the flavor directly. But it could also screw with yeast during fermentation and effect the preservation of the wine during aging. A higher, more basic ph would mean a wine that spoils easier. It could also slow or stop the fermentation  You’d get a lower alcohol content (more prone to spoilage) but also potentially a failure to carbonate.  So while the blue color might be marketable/cool on its own I doubt it would make for a drinkable wine.

      So just throw a little bit of blue curacao in with your bubbly of choice. Basically a neon kir royale.

      1. We had a post here a while back about how red wine is really blue. Drink a glass of Merlot, brush your teeth and look at the color of what you spit out.

  5. “a drink I tend to associate with undergrads and poorly conceived 7-Up cocktails.”

    This is really unfortunate. You need to frequent some better restaurants and make use of the sommelier’s service.

    1. Did you read the rest?  The entire post was her admitting that this was an incorrect assumption.

    2. Some people, like me, can’t stand the stuff.  It tastes like my mouth tastes after a night of drinking.

      1. Maybe you’ve never had the good stuff. I had an excellent Champagne rosé on Tuesday night, if you want I can let you know what it was. I don’t have my notes with me.

        1. I’ve had the good stuff, and never really liked it much. Besides the vast majority of rosé anything tends to be terrible. I chalk that up to a few too many people trying to do something difficult very cheaply or without understanding it. Its a shame because it gives quality products an unfair reputation. But that doesn’t mean everyone would love it if only they could get “the good stuff”.

          I for example prefer cheap to mid-priced Cava and Prosecco over almost any champagne. Honestly just like the flavors better. Its got a simpler, crisper thing going on.

          1. Besides the vast majority of rosé anything tends to be terrible.

            Great.  Now I want to get my hair feathered and watch Karen Black movies.

          2.  “Besides the vast majority of rosé anything tends to be terrible.”

            That, to me, reads like personal preference expressed as fact.

            Also, spend more money, get better wine.

  6. As long as it tasted the same, I’d drink the hell out of blue champagne. Brown too, for that matter.

  7. That article will certainly have pleased the Dom Pom PR folks. Other writers have a different version of the story (see for example Chris Kissack ).

    As to the idea that 2002 is the best vintage for a generation. That is to ignore 1996, which of course Dom Perignon might well want to do if they have sold through all stock of the ’96 and are now pushing the ’02.

    (I’m not denigrating the 2002 vintage, it was truly great. But I think (and many writers with far more experience than me say so), that ’96 was better.)

    It’s true that pink champagne is tricky to make, which is why Champagne is the only appellation in France which is permitted to make rose wine by blending red with white ( ).

    As to taste, I find Dom Pom rather sugary-sweet. Much better, IMO, are Laurent-Perrier, Henriot, Billecart-Salmon, Bonnet, or straying far from France, Clover Hill in Tasmania.

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