A rose wine has some of the color typical of a red wine, but only enough to turn it pink. The pink colour can range from a pale orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the grapes and wine making techniques.
Historically rose was quite a delicate, dry wine, exemplified by Anjou rose from the Loire. In fact the original claret was a pale ('clairet') wine from Bordeaux that would probably now be described as a rose.
After the Second World War, there was a fashion for medium-sweet rose's for mass-market consumption, the classic examples being Mateus Rose and the American "blush" wines of the 1970's.
The pendulum now seems to be swinging back towards a drier, 'bigger' style. These wines are made from Rhone grapes like Syrah, Grenache and Carignan in hotter regions such as Provence, the Languedoc and Australia. In France, rose has now exceeded white wines in sales.