Learning to love rosé wines – they’re pretty in pink!

WINEWISE: Think of Rosés as white wines with a serious case of red-berry attitude.

All wine lovers seem to find their own way to what they like and when they like it. Some like it pink!

Maybe your first encounter with a pink wine was a verifiably sweet White Zinfandel from California? Today’s lightly pink wines from south of the border like Beringer White Zinfandel (239756) $8.60 have proclaimed themselves dry rather than sweet. Nevertheless, that melange of rhubarb, cranberry and strawberry flavours still seems more sweet than spicy.

Created in 1942 to satisfy the growing sophistication of emerging consumers in the UK and US who had been exposed to wine in Europe, Mateus Rosé was originally sweeter than today’s leaner version.

In its iconic pear-shaped green bottle (that so often became a candle-holder when it was empty) by the ‘60s and ‘70s – Mateus Rosé (166) $7.45 was legendary.

Northeast of Rioja, in Navarra, Spain’s Bodegas Nekeas growers’ and winemakers’ collective fashionsVega Sindoa Garnacha Rosado (772772) $11.70 from 100 per cent Grenache.

This is a deeply coloured Rosé that seems deceptively  sweet at first sip before filling out with strawberry and raspberry flavours that are actually dry and spiced with white pepper, sage and anise.

Rosés can be made by mixing white wine grapes and red wine grapes and co-fermenting them together. In some regions Rosés are traditionally made by blending semi-finished red wines and white wines. Other winemakers leave fermenting red wine grapes in contact with the grape skins for a very short time, until the developing alcohol strips some pink colour from the dark purple skins, then press off the pink juice.

An upstart Vin de Pays from the south of France with what appears to be a handmade label at first glance C’est La Vie Syrah Rosé (33522) $14.45 is made by pressing pink juice off the barely fermented red Syrah grapes.

This simple ‘Country Wine’ is brightly pink and lightly pepper spiced with almond-edged aromas of red currant fruit over flavours of pink grapefruit, rhubarb and strawberry.

La Cave des Vignerons de Pfaffenheim has recently released a Pinot Noir Rosé (788828) $15.90. An unusual treat from Alsace, France, it is a light and very delicate shade of pink and brightly flavoured with simmering cherries and silky strawberries,  Something floral dances around in the aftertaste – almonds, orange blossom?

Picking a pink wine from the many that British Columbia’s wineries offer is a demanding task. As is so often the case, the wines are leaner, brighter and fabulously food friendly. Quite a different take on Rosé in style and substance from our own Okanagan Valley, Perseus Pinot Noir Rosé (840751) $17.30 could be mistaken for a white wine, tasted blindfolded and overly chilled.

Sipped at room temperature, however, this 100 per cent Old Vine Pinot Noir shows all of the gorgeous cherry, strawberry and cranberry aromas and flavours that make good Rosés great!

After a brief experimental joint venture with Australian partners French winemaker Michel Chapoutier set up the fully owned Domaine Tournon in Victoria, Australia. M.Chapoutier Domaine Tournon Mathilda (447219) $22.15 is a very French take on 100 per cent Australian Grenache. Probably the palest coloured Rosé in today’s line-up, it manages to intrigue the nose and the taste buds with a medley of strawberry, red raspberry, candied cherry and pomegranate aromas and flavours.

Think of Rosés as white wines with a serious case of red-berry attitude. Try them with a full range of different cuisines.

While many benefit from some chilling, a sweat-frosted bottle usually means the Rosé in question is a little too cold to really flash its subtle fruit flavours!

From the south of France’s Cotes de Provence the very prettily dark pink Roseline Prestige (247445) $19.10 conjures up wafts of red flowers on a sunny Mediterranean breeze with flavors of mandarin orange, strawberry, cherry and freshly crushed rose petals. That intriguing rain-washed granite minerality underpinning the fruit seems to sum up the essence of great Provence Rosés.

Heads up, local wine lovers! Your WineWise guy will be guiding a Pinot Noir & Tapas evening at the Riptide Pub on Saturday, Aug. 22 at 6:30 p.m. The $40 per person cost covers wine and food.

Seating is limited to 20, reservations are required and tickets are available from MetroLiquor’s Discovery Harbour store or by calling 250-914-5569.

Reach WineWise by emailing douglas_sloan@yahoo.com