Fifty Shades of Rose

I really like roses! I don’t care what others think about this. I find them to be very versatile, food-friendly wines. From a food stand-point I can think of no better go-between than a rose, when dining out-of-doors. Most are simple and pleasant enough to go with a wide array of foods (stay tuned, as I will end this piece with a list of some of the many great rose/food pairings that I have come across!), whilst not being too complex to demand an indoor setting. Key buzz words used to describe these wonderful pink products, include light, crisp & refreshing!       

Throughout the wine world, roses have been fighting an image problem for many decades. This bad reputation has a lot to do with the North American “White Zinfandel phenomenon”. White Zin’s are rose wines which are commonly referred to as blush wines – a term usually reserved for North American rose wines that are thin, watery and undoubtedly sweet! Due to the popularity of these “kool-aid” wines throughout the 1970’s and ‘80’s, many of the world’s wine drinkers gave up on roses, fearing that they were all sweet plonk. Luckily, for the true lovers of all-things-wine, certain European countries like France, Italy and Spain kept the dry/drier versions coming. Now, rather than attack the sweet style, like so many of my cohorts, I will take the high road and let you all know that there is enough room in the wine world for both versions! A lot of the blush version is still being sold worldwide, as well as here in Newfoundland and Labrador (I.E. sku 3294 Gallo Sierra White Zinfandel $11.99, and sku 4640 Beringer White Zinfandel $12.47). New wine drinkers enjoy the low price points, and the fact that the sugar in these wines has a mass consumer appeal! Remember, we here in North America are viewed as a “soda-pop” culture – having grown up on Coke and Pepsi products.

Stats don’t Lie
Recent stats coming from this year’s Vinexpo – the world’s largest global world wine and spirits exhibition held every two years in Bordeaux – tell us that rose consumption is growing on a worldwide basis, likely on account of its improved quality over the years and the fact that it is no longer viewed as just a seasonal sipper. Over the past decade the production of rose wines has increased by 13% worldwide, growing from an estimated 20 million hL (hectoliters) in 2002 to 25.3m hL in 2010. Today rose wines account for nearly 10% of the total worldwide wine production. In many countries it is the fastest growing wine type in terms of volume, overall value and consumption.      

Variety is the Spice of Life!
Every spring we see more and more of a push towards rose wines. Why? The answer is simple – the drier, bigger styles of these wines make very enjoyable accompaniments to many foods, and the hot weather and warm summer nights often beg for something different than big, red wines! People still eat the hearty fare that usually requires full, rich red wines throughout the summer months. The great thing about a rose is that it will often go well with both lighter and richer meals. I enjoy roses because I view them as being the best of both worlds – they are often quite similar to white wines in that they have light character and acidity, and they can rival reds in terms of their subtle fruit flavours. Due to their lack of tannins, I would recommend the following two things for most roses – one: serve chilled (similar temperature as for a full-bodied white), and two: these don’t usually age well, so drink up within a year of purchase, while they are still young and fresh.         

Hot Dogs – Why Not?!
Warm weather is here, and the vibrant, refreshing nature of a chilled rose is PERFECT for outdoor entertaining. It is your quintessential summer sipper, made for picnics, parties and barbeques. The crisp acidity associated with this type of wine makes it an ideal aperitif – whetting one’s appetite and getting people ready to eat! Roses are also usually light and crisp, and rarely oaked – making them some of the world’s most versatile and food-friendly wines. As promised, I will now recommend some food pairings to accompany different roses. A personal favourite is PORK – hot or cold, it doesn’t matter, just try some rose and some ham, and let me know what you think? Lighter fare like fresh vegetables, grilled salmon and poultry are also divine with a cool rose. It is a great lunchtime drink too, try it with hotdogs, hamburgers or a grilled cheese sandwichJ. And finally, many roses (especially the sweeter ones) go great with the infamous, spicy, “Asian” cuisine. I encourage you all to chill and try a glass of rose on a hot day soon. The sweet versions are great for newbie wine drinkers, while the drier roses will make a simple lunch special!       

Give it a Try!
The NLC has recently brought in some fresh, new roses for your sipping pleasure – which by the way, can be found already chilled for you, in the open-faced cooler sections at most NLC stores. Check out the following three from France, as well as a most enjoyable Canadian rose from the Niagara region in Ontario:

Sku 13837 Louis Bernard Tavel Rose - $24.48
Sku 13836 LaForet Royale Rose - $21.99
Sku 13838 Malivore Ladybug Rose VQA - $19.50 [Canadian!]
Sku 13840 L’Amphore de Provence - $16.98