To begin, I must admit to generally having a bit of an aversion to the colour pink, especially in my wardrobe. I can honestly say that it is not a shade that works for me. I can appreciate it on others but it really does take a particular kind of swagger to confidently pull off that look. Add a glass of rosé wine in the hand of the guy wearing pink, well, he’d better really have it together … .
On the other hand, I have recently become smitten with rosé wines, in all their various tinges and hues, from pale "onion-skin" orange to a vivid near-purple, depending on the varietals used and the winemaking techniques employed. Equally, the flavours can be quite varied. Although they can come as a sweet white Zin or a bone-dry Provençal, and as a kick-ass sparkling or still, my enthusiasm appears to be shared by many people all over the world who have come to appreciate these wines that recently seem have taken a quantum leap in quality. Then again, maybe I just recently noticed something that has been going on for a while all over the world … .
A rosé is a type of that incorporates some of the colour from the grape skins, but not enough to qualify it as a red wine. As Steve Tyler sings:
Pink it was love at first sight
Pink when I turn out the light
Pink it's like red but not quite
And I think everything is going to be all right
No matter what we do tonight
The maceration method is used when rosé wine is the primary product. After black-skinned grapes are crushed the skins remain in contact with the juice for a short period, typically one to three days. The must is then pressed, and the skins are discarded instead of being left in contact throughout fermentation, as when one makes red wine. The longer the skins are left in contact with the juice, the more intense the colour of the final wine.
When a winemaker wants to add more tannin and colour to a red wine, some of the pink juice from the must can be removed at an early stage in what is known as the Saignée method. This derives from French, meaning “bleeding”. The red wine remaining in the vats is intensified as a result of the bleeding, because the volume of juice in the must is reduced, and the must involved in the maceration becomes more concentrated. The pink juice that is removed can be fermented separately to produce rosé.
Although it is unknown when the first wine labeled as a rosé was produced, it is very likely that many of the earliest red wines made were closer in appearance to today's rosés than they would be to modern red wines. The reason for this is that many of the winemaking techniques used to make today's darker, more tannic red wines (extended maceration and harder pressing, for example) were not widely practiced in ancient winemaking. Both red and white wine grapes were often pressed soon after harvest, with very little maceration time. This was done by hand, feet or even sack cloth and created juice that was only lightly pigmented.
Even after the development of newer, more efficient wine presses, many ancient and early winemakers still preferred making the lighter colored and fruitier style of wines since the resulting heartier wines were often considered too harsh and less desirable. In sum, the practice of rosé wine making is very ancient yet it is currently very fashionable. Rosé is the rage!
That’s right, think “Brosé!”
In fact, earlier this season, when I was winegrunting at Luckett Vineyards, I decided to book a weekend in Wolfville to coincide with the SlowFood AGM and my shifts. We had done a weekend there before but this time we decided to take the Vespa with saddle bags and tunnel bag and ride to different local wineries. We even filled the under-seat compartment.
Of course! That's what it was designed for, right?
So, since the hotels and BnBs we checked were fully booked for those days, we went AirBnB. Since we’d had much luck with this sort of arrangement in North America and Europe in the past, it seemed like a great option. When I found the dates I wanted and a location right in the heart of Wolfville for a fraction of the price of the other places I had checked before, I was so enthusiastic I just booked it as quickly as possible. Click! Done! We’ve got our digs right in the heart of WineWorld at a fraction of the cost. My wife was pleased. I was proud of myself. The next day, I figured I had better check out what I had booked if I was going to continue boasting … . Well, … it turned out I had booked us into a frathouse. Yup, a fraternity of Acadia University. When I told Astrid, she kind of rolled her eyes and shook her head at me … but was game to give it a try. After all, it was not expensive so we could split if it was going badly. When we rolled up, we discovered a perfectly nice place with (only) two perfectly polite, decent guys staying in the place. It had a huge kitchen (great for us since we love to cook, even if I am sous chef to Astrid’s talents in the kitchen), a big, clean bedroom, and a huge flat screen TV to watch the Stanley Cup finals. We both agreed we’d be fine. On the first day after a shift at the winery, I came home with two bottles of Rosetta, a lovely off-dry rosé wine made by Mike Mainguy, composed of l’Acadie blanc and Maréchal Joffre grapes, done in stainless steel, of course, that gives you notes of strawberry and rhubarb. It goes well with so many dishes, from pork tenderloin, to grilled chicken, sushi that you almost cannot go wrong. Since Astrid was making her Killer Chicken Caesar Salad that night, I made the right choice of wine pairing. After I got through the grilling, she got to the finesse part and put together a wonderful meal. In the meantime, the frat boys returned from playing soccer and hockey and were getting ready to fill their growlers and kegs for the evening. When they saw my bottles of rosé wine, they kinda looked at me funny. “Would you like some?”, I asked. They continued to stare in embarrassed silence … . “It’s got 12,5% alcohol,” I offered. “Well, we wouldn’t want to offend” their big eyes, nodding heads, and outstretched arms with wagging, empty glasses seemed to indicate. So, I poured them less than a 1-ounce tasting (more like an eye-dropperfull since I like the stuff and I wasn’t going to waste it), and waited for their reaction. They hesitantly brought the glasses to their lips and sipped the wine … . I watched as their eyebrows arched and they exclaimed, “Pink wine rocks!” I can now boast that I converted two Acadia University frat boys from beer to rosé wine! That is a ringing endorsement! I am also confident I changed their lives, and that of their girlfriends, … for weeks … .
This modern, yet ancient wine style is setting the world on fire, … as much for its versatility as for its idiosyncratic nature:
You could be my flamingo
'Coz pink is the new kinda lingo
Pink like a deco umbrella
It's kink - but you don't ever tell her
While we have successfully paired rosé wines with many dishes, the photo on the right is of perhaps the all-time best: Astrid's pork tenderloin soft-shell tacos, with white rice covered in black beans and peach salsa. This divine meal was complemented by the 2014 Rosé from L'Acadie Vineyards, a truly exquisite elixir!
Let’s drink to pink!