Think pink this sum­mer

Rosés are in, and they can be just the re­fresh­ing, dry wine you’re look­ing for at this time of year


Iam a red drinker. I’ve been one most of my life. I dab­bled for a bit in fruit, semi-sweet and whites in my youth but red is the thing that I crave the most at night and with a meal. Give me a Cab or a Zin with steak or ribs, a silky Mer­lot to sip on or a Ga­may to while away the af­ter­noon and I am a happy man. My cel­lar is 90 per cent red, so I have no doubt about my ori­en­ta­tion and predilec­tion, but sum­mer comes along and, well, my palate sud­denly starts lean­ing a lit­tle paler.

It’s at this time of year I start col­lect­ing the wines for what we re­fer to as the “sum­mer wine boxes.” These are two or three boxes (24 to 36 bot­tles) of wine for when friends come over to sit on the deck or when we have a beau­ti­ful sunny af­ter­noon we’d like to sit out­side and en­joy with drinks in our hands.

Years ago, these boxes con­tained a few Sau­vi­gnon Blancs, some Ries­ling, Ga­may and BBQ Reds but, these days, the BBQ Reds are gone and the Ga­may stays in the cel­lar. In their place, you’ll find the same Sau­vi­gnon Blancs, a few Ries­ling, some un­oaked Chardon­nay, a smat­ter­ing of Pinot Gris and a whole lot of rosé!

Be­fore you turn the page of this mag­a­zine think­ing, “Rosé is too sweet, I’m outta here,” give me a chance to state a few things up­front: I hear you. I feel your pain. I have felt the st­ing on my teeth and the syrupy sweet­ness on my tongue from an overly sweet rosé, but there is good news. Rosé has re­de­vel­oped it­self back into a se­ri­ous wine — I swear.

It is true that pink wines have de­vel­oped a bad rep­u­ta­tion over the last few decades, and no one is more re­spon­si­ble for it than the Amer­i­cans and their White Zin­fan­del fas­ci­na­tion. We here in Canada like to blame many things on our neigh­bours to the south, but the U.S. did bring us White Zin­fan­del in the ’70s and, be­cause Zin­fan­del is a high-al­co­hol red when fer­mented close to dry, if you try to back off the al­co­hol, you are left with resid­ual sugar. That’s how Sut­ter Home, of Cal­i­for­nia, brought White Zin­fan­del into the mar­ket (by ac­ci­dent in 1975, but brought it they did and kept it com­ing).

To­day, if White Zin­fan­del were in­tro­duced,

we’d prob­a­bly put it in the “cool­ers” sec­tion of the liquor store. Its sweet, can­died aro­mas and flavours lend them­selves more to a Wild­berry cooler than proper wine or even rosé, but be­cause it hap­pened to be grand­fa­thered into the wine sec­tion, there it sits and there it stays.

Now, I’m no fan of White Zin­fan­del. I love the mon­ster red ver­sions Cal­i­for­nia puts out from the likes of Cline, Ravenswood, Carol Shel­ton and even the 7 Deadly guys, Micheal David. They are a per­fect pair­ing for ribs and other bar­be­cued fare, but White Zin­fan­del has no place around my pa­tio. I’m a real rosé fan, and you should be too — and I’m talk­ing proper rosé, not the sweet stuff.

Usu­ally, when I start talk­ing about my love for rosé wine, I am often la­belled as a “girlie­man” for lik­ing “the pink stuff,” but I brush that kind of crit­i­cism off. Real men like pink wine. There, I said it, loud and proud.

As pre­vi­ously hinted at, rosé is shuck­ing off its neg­a­tive rep­u­ta­tion and is be­com­ing cool, if you know what to look for. First off, real rosé, as made pop­u­lar by the French in Provence, is all about dry, good acid­ity, food­friendly wines that leave the sug­ars in the rearview, red fruits and berries up front and on the nose with a re­fresh­ing dry fin­ish.

This style of rosé is also be­gin­ning to per­me­ate into other wine-mak­ing coun­tries such as Chile, Ar­gentina, Spain, Italy and, best of all, right here at home. Winer­ies here are us­ing Caber­nets, both Franc and Sau­vi­gnon, Mer­lot and Pinot Noir to make some fruit-for­ward yet still dry rosés that smell like Jolly Rancher water­melon candy yet end with mouth-puck­er­ing lemon and lime-soaked straw­ber­ries. The key word here is dry. That’s the sign of a se­ri­ous rosé — the will­ing­ness to go dry and not leave the mouth sticky and sweet. That’s what ice wine, late harvest and port wines are for. Dessert is dessert. Pink should be for re­fresh­ment on a sum­mer’s af­ter­noon and it should leave you crav­ing more, not won­der­ing why you ever started drink­ing in the first place.

When I started those sum­mer wine boxes, they also had a few white wines in them, mainly the un­oaked kind, the ones with lots of ap­ple, peach, pear, lemon, lime and other cit­rus notes — wines that are fresh and lively and pair with sum­mer­time fare (sal­ads, fresh fish, nib­bles on the pa­tio) or are pleas­ant sip­pers all by their lone­some. Don’t be afraid to stock up on these wines, get a few empty boxes in your cel­lar and be­gin fill­ing them with wines to have on hand, those “gotta gets” for sum­mer.

Why should you keep run­ning out to the store each time some­one is ex­pected to drop by, when you can stock up in ad­vance? Don’t be the one on the block who con­stantly says, “If I knew you were com­ing over, I would have picked some­thing up.”

My only other piece of ad­vice is to make sure to have these wines fin­ished by the end of the year so you can be­gin anew next year. The plea­sure of these wines is in their fresh­ness, not their longevity. Michael Pinkus is an award-win­ning wine writer and past pres­i­dent of the Wine Writ­ers’ Cir­cle of Canada. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @the­grapeguy.

Michael Pinkus

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.