by Andrea Kaiser
Growing up a winemaker’s daughter, you would think that I would always be eager to try new wines, but truth be told, I too have my standbys. Sauvignon Blanc and sparkling wines are generally my refreshments of choice, and when Jackson-Triggs released their Entourage Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, it was like the stars had aligned in my wine world.
But come summer, there is one colour that can pull my attention away from my favourite varietal. The attraction starts right around the time my flip flops come out, and not only do I start wearing pink, but I start drinking it, and contrary to popular belief, pink can be a very serious colour.
In fact rosés may be one of the oldest types of wine dating back to the Ancient Greeks and Roman winemakers, and were generally preferred to the darker, heartier ‘harsh’ red wines. This sentiment lasted well into the Middles Ages when the pale clarets from Bordeaux were starting to gain the world’s attention in the powerful English market. According to wine historian Hugh Johnson, the vin d’une nuit or the “wine of the night,” which were pale coloured rosés produced from one night contact on the skins, were considered to be of much higher quality than the darker wines produced from wines with longer skin contact.
And the colour of rosés can vary tremendously depending not only on the time of skin contact —as most wine grapes produce clear juice unless given time to extract colour from the skins after crushing— but also the grape variety. Pinot Gris, very closely related to Pinot Noir, produces a wine with a pale onion hue, while a Cabernet rosé could be a deep ruby red if given enough time on the skins and seeds.
Typically a rosé will spend anywhere from one to three days with skin contact before fermentation begins, and this is what really differentiates a rosé from a red wine. A red wine is, by definition, fermented on the skins and seeds, while a white wine is not, so yes, a rosé is technically a white wine.
So how did these wonderfully coloured white wines fall out of fashion?
It may have begun in the 70s when Elton John sang, “I get juiced on Mateus and just hang loose.”
And yet the 70s were in fact a heyday for rosés, namely Mateus — considered, at the time, not only a great bottle of wine for dinner, but also a romantic ambiance when used as a candle holder for the balance of the evening. This was followed up in the early 80s with blush wines in California, but while the popularity of rosés were on the rise, the palate of wine drinkers in North America was changing.
Traditionally, new wine drinkers start with softer sweet wines and then progress to dry whites and later reds. So it would seem their popularity was destined to decline.
But thankfully, rosés would come full circle to arrive at their historical place as a respected wine, and today some seriously pink wines are produced right in our backyard.
Vineyards 2011 Triomphe Cabernet Franc Rosé was recently awarded a Gold at the Ontario Wine Awards, and for the Wine and Herb Festival in May, it was paired with Spring Arugula Pesto Pasta with Crumbled Monforte “Elsie” Goat Milk Cheese. Cattail Creek’s pairing, Serendipity Rosé matched with French Thyme Turkey Slider topped with Rhubarb Chutney. Both sound seriously delicious.
The Bosc family at Château des Charmes believes that all of their wines must be made from the best grapes they can grow, and their rosé is no exception. They are very serious about carefully selecting the right fruit for their crisp, dry estate bottled Cuvée d’Andrée, blended with the vibrant Madame Bosc in mind. Of course for me, it always comes back to sparkling wine and Trius Brut Rosé brings bubbles and blush together in seriously fresh fashion.
The Wineries of Niagara-on-the-Lake are producing some seriously sensational rosés, so get set to decorate your summer table with some PINK!