Lazy, hot summer days, weekend family outings, and al fresco lunches out-of-doors, all call for rosé wines.
They are for all intents are purposes pale red wines (actually some very pale ones are called onion skin or pelure d’oignon) and which must be vented from red grapes.
In some cases, wine makers blend a small amount of red wine into white and create a rose, which really a tinted white wine and lacks the true taste profile of the original product.
True rosé wines must acquire their colour and ultimately their taste profile through maceration. The hue depends on the density of colouring pigments of the fruit, and the decision of the winemaker.
Fine rise wines are always refreshing and light. Taste wise, they lean more towards red than white.
Excellent rose wines come from Provence and southern Cotes du Rhône (both in France), Catalonia, Navarra (both in Spain) and also from Ontario and B.C. They are short lived and lose their youthful appeal within a year, maximum two.
Rose wines should always be chilled, but not iced and consumed with light foods i.e. roasted, marinated vegetable salads, pasta salads, marinated fish, marinated vegetables, cold grilled chicken, chicken salad sandwiches, cold roast pork, Bohemian style beef salad, roast turkey breast, hamburgers and even a fine sausage. Pizzas are known to go very well with rose wines.
White Zinfandel, an anachronism, is really not white nor rose but what is called “ blush “ a term and the only one American viniculture contributed to the vocabulary.
White Zinfandel sells by the millions of cases in the USA but nearly not as much in Canada, even if the size of the population is taken into account.
Rose wines with few exceptions not withstanding (i.e. Tavel, Lirac, Cabernet Franc rose from Loire) are not taken seriously and very few restaurants offer them, but if the menu features suitable dishes, they deserve a place on the wine list.
Liquor control boards usually shy from importing even small amounts of fine rose wines because of timing and distribution problems. Vintages division of the LCBO offers some from time to time.
Here are some general listing rose wines that most, if not all, boards carry.
White Zinfandel Glen-Ellen ($ 9. to 10.-)very pale, fruity , off dry, light and quaffable. Easy to drink and refreshing.
Fortant de France Syrah rose, Skalli , France ($ 9.- 10.- ) Somewhat darker than expected from a rose, but with a beautiful fruity aroma reminiscent of Mediterranean orchards. Dry and well balanced with a lingering taste. A serious rose to go along with substantial foods.
Marques de Caceres, Rioja, Spain ($ 12. – 13, -) from one of the best known wineries in Rioja . A rose vinted from Tempranillo grapes considered to be the finest of red grapes of Spain. A fine aroma of ripe fruits, refreshing taste and medium body makes this wine suitable for nachos, cold cuts, sandwiches and drinking on its own.
Malbec, Villa Nueva Argentina ($ 10.-) varietal Argentine rose vinted by using Malbec, a Bordeaux grape seldom used to day in its place of birth. On Argentine soil Malbec seems to be doing better than other transplanted grapes. A rose to enjoy with beef salads, cold roast pork and roasted rosemary potatoes.
Casal Mendes, Alianca, Portugal ($ 8.- -9.-) an old standby in practically all boards across the country. This is a crackling rose with two percent residual sugar but has enough acidity to support the sweetness. It is light, competently vinted, and provides a reasonable amount of drinking pleasure at an affordable cost.
Two Ocean Rose, South Africa ($ 9.- to 10.-) is a relatively new introduction to the Canadian market. It is made using grapes grown at the southern most point of Africa on both sides of the peninsula. It is refreshing, with a fine underlying acidity and fruitiness.
Vigne Antique Grenache Rose, ($ 9.-) a dry rose from southern France with crisp refreshing flavours of pepper, strawberry, and pink grapefruit. It is Ideal for sipping while relaxing or with hamburgers, sausages, pizza and pasta with meat sauces.
Buying rose wines requires paying attention to the vintage. Anything older than 2000 would be more than likely too old to enjoy.
Article contributed by Hrayr Berberoglu, a Professor Emeritus of Hospitality and Tourism Management specializing in Food and Beverage. Books by H. Berberoglu