Rod on Wine: Think pink as the temperature soars

It’s time for the annual rosé column, when I urge you to drink pink.

But fewer and fewer people need to be urged these days: rosé has been steadily increasing in production and sales over the last five years.

Ontario producers make some excellent rosés, and the LCBO carries more and more rosés in its summer program, which is now under way.

It’s not easy to explain the growing popularity of rosé. Maybe there has been a breakdown of some gender stereotyping of wine. Rosé used to be considered “women’s wine” but now I see many men happily sipping it.

The style of rosé has certainly changed. Apart from classic rosés (like those from Tavel, the French region that produces only rosé), many rosés were off-dry or sweet — which reinforced the notion they were wines for women. The best-known example is white zinfandel (which is pink, of course), a style that is still a best-seller in the United States.

The new generation of rosé is quite different. First, many of them are dry and carefully balanced and structured. Second, more attention is given to grape variety, and most new rosés specify the variety or varieties they’re made from. White zinfandel always did that, of course, but until recently most rosés were labelled by colour, not variety.

Third — and this is really important — many producers now cultivate grapes specifically for rosé wine. Red and rosé wines get their colour from the dark skins of the grapes used to make them, and it used to be that rosé was made from grapes that were not good enough for red wine.

Rosés were failed reds. Now, however, rosé has emerged as a style in its own right, and vines are managed so as to make quality rosé wine.

The great challenge now is to get consumers to understand the different styles of rosé. They range from sweet to bone dry, with most in the “dry and fruity” category. Some are light bodied, some heavier; some are simple and just easy-drinking, others have more structure. Most are fairly low in alcohol, which makes them ideal for summer.

And there’s a big range of colours. Rosé wine is often intended for drinking while it’s young, and is sold in clear glass bottles. This means that, unlike most whites and reds (in coloured bottles to protect them from light), you can clearly see the colour of rosés, which range from light salmon to electric pink.

As for drinking them, many are great on their own, but dry rosés are amazing versatile and go with fish, seafood, vegetables, pork, poultry, salads and even red meats. No wonder they’re catching on.

Remy Pannier Rosé d’Anjou 2011

Made from cabernet franc, this rosé from Anjou in the Loire Valley delivers flavours with more depth and intensity that you might expect from its light colour. With crisp acidity, this is great for sipping on its own or with salads, poultry and ham.10.5-per-cent alcohol; $12.25 (12641)

Campo Viejo Tempranillo Rosé 2011

From Spain’s Rioja region, this medium-weight rosé verges, in colour and style, on light red. The flavours are both serious and bright, the acidity is good, and the tannins are perceptible and drying. Drink it with poultry, pork, burgers and barbecued ribs. 13.5-per-cent alcohol; $11.95 (175620)

Adobe Reserva Rosé 2011

Made from grapes organically grown in Chile’s Rapel Valley, this is a dry, fruity rosé with attractive flavours neatly paired with crisp, clean acidity. Drink it on its own or serve it with summer salads, grilled poultry or baked ham. 13.5-per-cent alcohol; $11.95 (274399)

Bieler Père et Fils ‘Sabine’ Rosé 2011

Light pink in the best Provence style, this blend of syrah, grenache, cabernet sauvignon carries impressive weight, depth and complexity. Look for solid fruit and excellent balance. This is a rose that will stretch to heavier foods, including red meats. 13.5-per-cent alcohol; $12.95 (278192)

Email Rod Phillips at rod@rodphillipsonwine.com. Join him online Thursdays at 2pm at ottawacitizen.com/winechat, and follow him on Twitter at @rodphillipswine

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