By the time summer hits here in British Columbia, I’m just like you – ready to soak up the sunshine with a glass of wine in hand. The warm weather and endless skies get me wandering the rosé aisle at the liquor store – or if the vendor doesn’t have it sorted to suit my precise wine-finding needs, I’ll scour the rows till that pretty pink hue catches my eye.
But I’m also one of those people who like to know the “why” behind something. Yes, I know I enjoy a glass – make that bottle – of rosé at a barbeque, settled in the park for a picnic, or even on the balcony at home, but I also want to know why rosés are tickled pink.
So I’ve dug deep into the earth known as the internet to sprout some knowledge about the wonders of the rosé.
What Makes a Rosé a Rosé
Rosés are made from any grape that you would use for a red wine. Because of that, you can really expect the same variety of flavour profiles with a rosé as you do with a red or white wine.
Its peachy-to-deep hues are all to do with skin contact. So while rosés are made from the same grapes as a red wine, it’s the length of time with which the skins and juice are in contact that makes all the difference. During this process – known as maceration – the skins are typically only in contact with the juice for only a few short hours. Once removed, the wine ferments as usual.
While some think it’s a misconception that rosés are made by combining red and white wines, there is some truth to it; Rosés can be made with both red and white *grapes*. In fact, some of the most complex options on the market are blends, such as the Wölffer Estate Vineyards Rosé, which is a blend of (in descending percentages) Merlot, Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, Riesling Pinot Noir and Vignoles. Add to that the aroma of peaches and pears and it’s no wonder it whisks you away to an orchard full of dappled sunlight after just one sip.
Generally speaking, the lighter the shade of pink, the drier and less sweet the profile; Darker rosés tend to be sweeter and give more of a juicy punch to the palate (and can be a riskier choice if you haven’t researched it).
Speaking of flavours, rosés can range from light fruits like citrus (orange, lemon peel or grapefruit) to richer berries (cherries, currants, or raspberries) to robust savoury flavours (red peppers, tomatoes or blackberries).
Now… Provence is known as the Rosé Capital of the World, but B.C. is in its golden age of wine right now (a side effect of global warming that isn’t working out nearly as well for California wineries). Below are some of my personal favourites.
Domaine Houchart Cotes du Provence, from – you guessed it – Provence, France, is not only a light, refreshing and crisp wine with notes of dried blueberries and white pepper, it comes in *the* most elegant bottle (the French really do know what they’re doing).
Narrative Rosé, from the Okanagan Valley, is a little more medium in colour than French rosés, but still holds some dryness to it with soft hints of raspberry and vanilla.
Château de Nages ButiNages Rosé, from Rhône Valley in southern France, is made from Syrah and Grenache and is a more savoury rosé with notes of wild strawberries and herbs. You’ll be transported to a French pasture when you drink this.
Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé, from the Okanagan Valley, is fermented and aged in concrete tanks. With floral notes alongside raspberry and rhubarb, it has a little more tannin from longer skin contact during maceration.
The All-Important Food Pairings
While I’m absolutely a proponent of drinking a glass of rosé on its own, it really is a great wine to pair with light summer foods. Depending on how you spend your weekends, here’s a few suggestions that’ll make the summer last a little longer.
Beach Day: Grab some fresh berries and pepperoni sticks from the market for easy-to-snack-on munchies.
Picnic in the Park: Pair a rosé with charcuterie: soft cheeses, smoked salmon, fresh bread, oysters and prosciutto.
Backyard (or rooftop) barbeque: Think about grilled chicken, salmon and fresh bright veggies like asparagus or cabbage.
At Home Netflix and Chill: Order in some sushi from your favourite local joint or mix up a light summer salad with berries, nuts and goat cheese.
And a little tip from an event planner in Vancouver: If you’re planning a summer work event or a wedding, guaranteed your guests will be floored with a charcuterie board or light tapas and rosé pairing. Trust me.
Cheers friends, and see you in the rosé aisle!