Rosé has a bad reputation. It’s often regarded as too sweet, or considered an aperitif, but the pink-hued wine is largely diverse and food friendly. I should begin by saying that I owe thanks to rosé; at the age of 20, it was California’s candy-like Zinfandels that piqued my interest in wine. Of course, rosé has evolved a great deal since those sugary varieties that prevailed when I began my career. Today, New World wine regions like Canada and the United States are seeing growth in both sales and available varieties. Wine’s popularity has risen tremendously with the 20-to-40-year-old crowd in these areas, too—a new breed of consumer that is more adventurous and possesses a “drier” palate.
Traditionally, rosé is made in a dry style from the French regions of Loire, Rhone and Provence, and is produced mostly with red grapes (such as pinot noir). Winemakers leave the grape’s skin in contact with the fruit just long enough to achieve the beautiful blush colour. Depending on the type of grape used and the amount of time that the juice touches the skin, a lighter or darker-coloured liquid will result. Rarely are white and red wine blended together to attain a pink tint.
Despite the extensive winemaking process that goes into perfecting each bottle of rosé, selecting one can be intimidating—will guests miss the familiar taste of Sauvignon blanc? The key is to take your entire menu into consideration. This type of wine can be served at any point during a meal—you just have to choose the right one for the right fare.
Before taking a bite of anything, a sparkling rosé can be sipped as an aperitif. There are excellent versions hailing from France’s Champagne region, of course, but Ontario’s Niagara and Prince Edward County areas both produce top-notch bottles of bubbles. Next, serve a light, off-dry, red fruit-driven rosé, and accompany it with spring asparagus. I love barbeque anytime, and it makes an excellent main course. Pair the grilled meal (even burgers) with something bold like a Tavel or a Spanish version from the Navarra region.
For dessert (and really, the wine could be dessert on its own), a Cabernet Franc icewine from Ontario is a delicious choice. The province’s icewines are acidic enough to balance the sugar and can be enjoyed alongside bites of bitter chocolate and cherries.
It’s hard to believe that a sip of candy-flosstasting Zinfandel in my 20s is what initially sparked my interest in wine, but, looking back, I’m glad that it did. That sweet flavour was the gateway to more versatile tastes, nurturing an appreciation of today’s rosé offerings and leading me to explore the vast world of food and wine.
Enjoy these delicious and diverse bottles.
Rivalling Champagne: Henry of Pelham Cuvée Catherine Rosé Brut, Canada.
Bold and Dry: M. Chapoutier, Tavel, Rhône Valley, France.
Fun and Fruity: Remy Pannier Rosé d’Anjou, Loire Valley, France.
Delicious and Decadent: Inniskillin Cabernet Franc Icewine, Canada.
Words by Jennifer Huether.