Pink Wine in the Summertime

July 21, 2005

Have I lost what few marbles are rattling around my head? No, I am devoting an entire post to pink wines. In fact, one of the many wonderful things about summer is that I get to drink pink wine. And you won’t find me lying on the patio with an empty bottle of Gallo White Zinfandel and a straw. I’m talking about the single hardest sell in the wine industry – dry rosé.

In the heat of summer, red wine is sometimes a bit too much. But there are some times when you just don’t feel like a white. That’s where rosés fit in. Think of them as very light, chilled reds that do a serious number on your tastebuds and your thirst.

Don’t expect the same flavours as you’d find in a red wine. Rosés have unique smells and flavours of their own. In the nose, you’ll often find flowers, spice and berries. In the mouth, look for strawberries, cherries and some lighter spices. They go perfectly at picnics and BBQ’s, and are excellent served up alongside grilled fish or chicken, salads and creamy cheeses (Brie and St. Andre are two good picks). Drink them young (18-24 months from vintage date) and chill them well.

In the wine industry though, dry rosés are a tough sell, probably because most people associate pink wine with sweet white Zinfandel. Nothing could be further from the truth. Like Riesling, dry rosés are popular with people in the wine industry, but don’t move off the shelves too quickly – no matter how hard they are pushed. Which is a shame, because lots of wine regions produce excellent dry roses, France (Provence), Spain, California, Australia and Canada.

Yes, Canada. Although they don’t have the ripeness of fine Californian or Provencal rosés, our wines can stand up proud with the best of them. The Henry of Pelham Dry Rosé (Ontario) which is a fabulous Canadian rosé. I served up a bottle of the 2004 vintage last night alongside tuna burgers covered in tzatziki with fresh wax beans and feta cheese on the side. It was perfect with everything except for the feta (which was a bit too salty). This wine is a blend, usually heavy on the Gamay and almost always containing Cabernet Franc, which makes a nice combination. But this year’s vintage is an interesting one. It’s mostly (57%) Zweigelt, with Gamay (24.5%) and Pinot Noir (18.5%) rounding it out.

It had a spicy nose, with hints of flowers and earth (probably the Pinot Noir at work). I didn’t get a lot of fruit off the nose, but the mouth was like a big bucket of spicy strawberries. Very tasty and at $12.49 plus tax, it’s worth it. Luckily, my local MLCC keeps this one in the cooler all summer.


  1. I agree with your statement that Dry Rose is the hardest sell in the wine industry but every hard sell has a booming counterpart. I think you should revisit the Valley Girl side of Rose and try White Zinfandel, again. Why? Because of what it did for the wine industry and for Zinfandel in general. Back in the 70’s Zin was a tough sell and there was a lot of it to go around. By bleeding off some of the juice and producing pink wineries were able to concentrate the red. The pink became a smash hit, sales increased and Zin stayed planted. You can thank pink for saving some of the old vine Zin in Claifornia, and the resulting monster wines we have today (Ridge, Rosenblum, Ravenswood, Cline; as examples). If pink hadn’t sold Zin probably would have been ripped out (most wineries who make pink now have vineyards dedicated to it). The other thing pink zin did was put much needed cash flow into wineries who then developed. Developed vineyards, technique, brands and some great wines. I love dry Rose but I also have some fun with pink. You should grab a bottle of Beringer’s Sparkling Pink Zin (which was released in honour of their 20th Anniversary as a pink zin maker) and have a think about drinkin’ pink.

  2. Sparkling pink Zinfandel? Hmmmm, sounds intriguing. And you’re right that the success of white Zin saved red Zin.

    Actually, Beringer’s White Zin is probably one of the best. J Lohr’s Cypress White Zin is also pretty darn tasty (as white zins go).

    But I will still take a dry rose any day. Although if I come across the Beringer sparkling white zin, I may change my mind…

  3. The Beringer Sparkling Wite Zin is available in a certain wine store I am very familiar with…


  4. great grill tips!

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