I have a history of issues with White Zinfandel that date long before I became a sommelier. There is no wine snobbery here. To be quite frank, White Zinfandel scares me. My university roommate was a lunatic, albeit a very charismatic individual, who would drink a litre bottle of E & J Gallo before heading out to the bar. The morning would result in piecing together the events of the evening prior coupled with a cranky tirade as a result of a raging, sugar induced hangover. I knew the potential of the police knocking on my dorm room was highly probable whenever I saw that giant pink bottle gleaming in our fridge. It was a beacon for shenanigans. As a result, I spent a good amount of my pre-sommelier youth with the notion that all pink wines a) were cloyingly sweet and b) could get you kicked out the bar for breaking a bottle over someone’s head. I consider this one of few times I have enjoyed being wrong.
I have yet to meet a sommelier who doesn’t love dry rosé. My love affair with this style of wine is akin to a love affair that one has on a reoccurring summer holiday. Flooded with endless warm summer days and evenings together, the promise to return to each other the following year, being unavailable in the cold winter months only to make the next visit that much sweeter….. Ah, but I digress….
For those who still have their issues with pink wine, allow me to clarify some misconceptions. Pink does not mean sweet. Blush wine is the most commonly used term used to describe the formerly mentioned sweet “pink wines” that flooded our market in the mid 1970’s. Rosé, however, is in reference to wines that fall between the spectrum of red and white and can be made from both red and white grapes. There are several processes to make rosé but generally, two methods are most commonly used. The preferred practice for making rosé is to allow a short maceration of the juice with the skins from dark coloured grapes to allow an extraction of colour before separating the juice and beginning fermentation. The other method simply requires the blending of red wine into finished white wine to achieve a desired colour. This is often considered to be the process reserved for basic styles of rosé, with the exception of Champagne, in which blended wines are heavily regulated to maintain quality.
From here, the style of rosé that is produced is wide ranging, varying from pale salmon hues to intense, rock candy pink. Flavours can vary from lean, mineral and spicy to bold, refreshing and fruit driven. With so much to choose from, the food pairings are endless. The bright acidity that is characteristic to great rosé makes it a wine that is friendly to a myriad of dishes. Consider the delicate styles of rosé from areas such as Provence or Bandol with dishes that are equally as fresh such as ceviche, fresh garden vegetables or spicy asian dishes. Sparkling rosé is a match made in heaven with savoury food such as bloomy rind cheese and oysters on the half shell. Rethink tuna sashimi, roasted chicken or tomato salad with a vibrant, juicy Garnacha from Navarra. Jump on the Pink Bandwagon friends, we’re headed towards Flavour Country. To sum up, Pink is the new…well, pink. And I find nothing frightening with that at all.
Dry Rosé That Won’t Get You Arrested.
2009 Casa Girelli Lamura Rosé (Sicily, Italy)
Made from 100% Nero d’Avola, this wine offers up a bouquet of wild strawberries, white pepper and sweet liquorice. A soft spoken accomplice to your Friday night tomfoolery.
2010 Joie Farms Rosé (Okanagan Valley, Canada)
Knock your socks off rosé! Made from a blend of Pinot Noir, Pinot Meunier, Gamay and Pinot Gris. Ripe notes of black cherry, sweet meadow flowers and pomegranate. She respects the law but walks on the wild side.