Deadlines can be the bane of any writer, but in British Columbia writing about summer wines, with no sign of summer in sight, can be downright exasperating. Alas, I’m so bullish on rosé this summer I’m suggesting that whether you need to wear shorts or pull on a sweater you’ll make use of this column in the weeks to come, rain or shine.
The rush to pink has been a gradual gait in B.C. now firmly established by an enlightened policy from government buyers that encourages the arrival and sales of rosé from May through September. The idea is to sell the salmon-coloured wine all summer and then say good-bye to the category in early fall until late spring.
I have to say it works for me, despite the weather. The tip for consumers is to drink the freshest versions you can find, which means any 2007 or, in the case of southern hemisphere pinks, it could include some early release 2008s that will arrive in the weeks and months to come.
Not all that long ago our rosé of choice was very sweet, but those days and that style are now passé. The new pink will have you blushing, albeit with less sugar or at least more acidity and body to freshen up the flavour profile. It may explain the use of the “pink” moniker among producers and retailers as they try to distance themselves from the sweet, candied rosés of the past.
The trick with coming to know and perhaps even coming to respect rosé is to experience it under ideal conditions. My epiphany occurred on a patio in the south of Spain. The temperature was in the high 30s. There was a warm wind blowing in off the Mediterranean, the tapas were tiny and perfect and the pink wine was perfectly chilled. It was magic.
Modern day rosé is no longer made by blending red wine with white. Most of the new labels begin life as red wine ― black grapes, crushed and fermenting on skins. The colour varies widely from pale salmon/orange to bright pink and medium to dark red, depending on the grapes involved.
After a few hours of skin contact, the lightly coloured juice is drained off. The result is an appealing, mostly white wine with a tinge of red/pink/orange colour and just enough flavour and tannin to stand up to a wide array of stylish, al fresco summer bites. And if it happens to be sparkling, well, let the party begin.
As to why pink wines are so fashionable now, it probably has less to do with technology and marketing and more to do with consumers embracing the concept of rosé because they are as confident as ever about their wine choices. After years of exploring different grapes and many wine styles, rosé is just another style whose time has come.