Pink wine goes with everything for the holidays
Pink wine is perfect—festive, fun, tasty, and versatile. It goes with everything from chips ’n’ salsa to fruitcake—both colours—and anything that comes in between. It’s affordable, most of the time; there are exceptions, and it comes in at least two different basic models, still and sparkling. I feel party-fuel-threatened if I don’t have at least three or four bottles in the house, so here’s a seasonal selection of favourites, from $14 to $30-plus, starting with one of the big bargains of the season.
Veuve du Vernay Brut Rosé n/v ($13.99)
We talked about the non-pink model of this French sparkler here some weeks ago. Right now the rosé is a buck off the base price—which is a steal to begin with—making it only $13.99 for the month of December, meaning it’s definitely time to stock up. It’s as close to real pink Champagne as you can get for under $50—fresh and bright and lovely, to look at as well as taste. It goes with all and any food: smoked salmon, oysters, appies of every description, turkey (fresh or leftover), pumpkin pie, and more, and represents one of the best buys in town.
St. Hubertus Frizzante Rosé 2010 ($15.75)
Frizzante means “spritzy” if not full-fledged sparkling and this wine has been a solid favourite in this corner, vintage after vintage. A massive amount of fresh, tingly fruit and lovely balance. The price is perfect, and so’s the taste and finish of the wine. I like a tumblerful beside the stove when the serious cooking starts. Or even the frivolous!
Township 7 Rosé 2010 ($15.99)
It doesn’t have bubbles but it’s sure pretty in pink. Strawberry fruitiness, lovely balance; the winemaker suggests endive stuffed with goat cheese and walnuts, which sounds great to me. But if you don’t have any of that handy, it goes very nicely with celery sticks and Cheez Whiz—you can put some carrot “wheels” on them with toothpicks and raisin “headlights” if you want. The price is very good for this luscious wine. They made 456 cases, so your favourite VQA store should still have a few left.
Niche Wine Company Rosé 2010 ($18 for 375 millilitres; $108 per case of six bottles)
This initial outing from a small winery in the Okanagan’s Lake Country (home to Gray Monk and Intrigue, among others) delivers plenty of taste and lots of promise for things to come. Made from primarily Pinot Noir, some Riesling, and Chardonnay, it all comes together beautifully in the glass, luscious and deep and rich. Yes, it is a tad steep for the wallet, especially given it’s a half-bottle, and at this time—at any time—but it sure tastes good.
Bartier-Scholefield Rosé 2010 ($20)
Sizeable production for a fledgling winery (792 cases) with the two famous-in-wine-circles principals assuring a great product. This one delivers hints of ripe strawberries as well as truffles—no mean feat!—for an intriguing—guess the grapes, Uncle Frank!—dinner companion. Not-quite-salmon-but-beyond-apricot is the colour. Think I could sell that to Sherwin-Williams? Great, crisp finish.
Rocky Creek Robin’s Rosé 2010 ($20)
A hundred cases departed the winery; it’s anybody’s guess where they ended up. You’ll have to phone around, or go to the Cowichan Valley winery, where there’s bound to be a little family reserve. Very pale salmon colour; light, simple flavour, with some gentle spice from the 100 percent Pinot Noir grapes. They have lots of other tasty wines, all with the new Zork cork.
Haywire Gamay Noir Rosé 2010 ($21)
Another new Okanagan name, somewhat out of the same mould, also featuring Gamay, which really lends itself to rosé. They’re saying steamed mussels would be appropriate. For me, steamed mussels are always appropriate, especially when you steam them with a few chunks of sopressata sausage in vodka, Clamato, celery leaves, and horseradish.
Elephant Island Pink Elephant 2009 ($24.99)
Stop at the shop and tasting room on the Naramata Bench for some of this rich and hearty, abundantly bubbly sparkler. Speaking of guessing the grape, try it with this. A hint: not a grape. Six luscious glasses in this bottle and a most satisfying pop.
Louis Bouillot Cremant de Bourgogne Brut Rosé n/v ($25.99)
A new name in town (at least to me) and one of the best buys this season. The relatively skimpy price belies a serious level of sparkly satisfaction; betcha can’t tell it from some thrice-the-price true Champagne with your eyes closed. You’ll want to get enough for New Year’s too.
Rocky Creek Jubilee Pink Bubble 2010 ($30) Another Zorked party wine from Cowichan, this one full of tiny bubbles that last and last and really tickle the tongue. We had some with a selection of fruit—fresh and dried—and nuts, shortbread, butter tarts, and my favourite three Ms for cheese: Morbier, Manchego, and Mimolette. Didn’t miss the port a bit.
Chateau Musar Jeune Cinsault Rosé 2009 ($30-plus to $70-plus depending on where you find it)
A truly brilliant rosé from the famous Lebanese label, whose wines are well known in Vancouver, in no small part due to the owner/winemaker’s penchant for skiing and his frequent visits here. The first Musar rosé to reach my palate (except for what I tasted at the winery, in the Bekaa Valley), it distinguishes itself with fabulous, full fruit, a solid backbone, a long-distance finish, and amazing versatility you don’t often find in pink wine. Finding it? That’s another story. As a speculative listing it’s been seen at Firefly (Broadway and Cambie), Viti (Seymour and Robson), and on the dazzling wine list at the new Glowbal Group steak restaurant Black + Blue, the apotheosis of steak, on Alberni off Burrard, where general manager Richard Goodine first suggested it with one of their melt-in-your-mouth meat features. He was so right I intend to trust his recommendations every time I can afford to go there.
Is this the right time and place to ask for a raise?