Musings on Wine

Sipping Rose Through The Polar Vortex

I've never understood why people are so reluctant to drink pink wines in the winter. It seems they are more than happy to crack a light, crisp Pinot Grigio or edgy, herbaceous Sauvignon Blanc when it's minus 13 and blowing snow outside, but sipping on a richly flavoured, zesty, fruit-rich rosé is out of the question unless they are lounging by the pool at 30C. Fact is rosé wines are red wines with a little less stuffing. They are like the sound of violins compared to viola's. Clearly smaller in some ways but still incredibly diverse and some with really big sound! Rosé wines come in many forms and are often very affordable. During the depth of winter many of these wines are available at really competitive prices since demand slips so much. Just the other day I was in the LCBO and discovered an entire shelf of good quality pink wines from around the world that was discounted by 20 or 30% so needless to say, I am now well stocked.

Good rosé wines are made from the very same red grape varieties that make red wines. They are vinified as they would be for red wines, however instead of several days or weeks of mingling of juice and skins, they spend a mere several hours macerating. The resulting wine is an attractive salmon, onionskin or bright pink colour, depending on the exact variety or varieties used in the wine. Deeply coloured grapes such as Syrah or Cabernet will likely produce more deeply hued wines, whereas thin-skinned pale varieties such as Grenache or Pinot Noir will result in lighter, more subtly-hued versions. I liken it to brewing a cup of tea. The longer the tea bag sits in the hot water, the more colour and tannin (that furry, drying sensation on your gums) that is extracted.
The other nice thing about this in-between wine style is its affinity with so many different foods. Lighter rosés will pair well with salads, especially if they include fresh tomatoes. Medium bodied rosés will pair well with shellfish soups, grilled salmon or light chicken dishes. If you are a red meat eater, then consider a richer, full-bodied rosé to match your grilled lamb chops or savoury Mediterranean beef stew and believe it or not, pink wines love cheese!
Arguably the most famous rosé wines on the planet come from those wine producing countries surrounding the Mediterranean sea. France and Spain make wonderfully rich, boozy, savoury pink wines from Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre and Cinsault along with other regional varieties. Look for wines from Tavel, Côtes de Provence and Côtes du Roussillon in France and Navarra or Rioja in Spain. Fruity, fresh and juicy versions can be found in France's Loire Valley where they are made from Cabernet Franc, Gamay and other indigenous varieties. There are plenty of good rosé wines in Italy where they are called Cerusuolo or Rosato and the warm new world countries of Australia, California and South Africa offer countless good examples. While the vast majority of White Zinfandel are fruity, sugary and one-dimesional, there are some pretty good versions to be found from respected producers such as DeLoach and Pedroncelli. One of my favourites Cali pink wines, if you can find it, is Vin Gris de Cigare, a complex and substantial Mediterranean look-alike from Bonny Doon located near Monterey on the central coast.
At the end of the day, you don't have to venture far from your own backyard to find good local rosés where a whole range of grapes are used to make them. Often a blend, you can find excellent Niagara pinks from Syrah, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir or Merlot and some producers will add a splash of white to enhance the fruit character or add complexity. 13th Street Winery is proud to offer two outstanding options - the Pink Palette, a blend of major red and white grape varieties which offers a fruity, just off-dry, easy drinking experience and the awesome BGPP, or Bloody Good Pink Pinot, a blend of Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris which is dry, fuller bodied, quite savoury and very cold weather friendly!
So next time you reach for that bottle of same old, same old red or that light, tart white, be a good Canadian, sit on the fence and choose a delicious pink wine. You won't be sorry you did, but you can still say sorry after if you wish.

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