Pink wines: they’re not just for summer anymore

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      Let the record show that I like pink wine.

      I’ve been a constant proponent of this style, whether you call it rosé or even blush. Though I’m eternally grateful that the majority of wine drinkers have finally shunned the once-common opinion that pink wines are always sweet and cloying, we can blame the saccharine-sweet white Zinfandels of 1980s-era California for perpetuating that myth.

      Nope, you all know better than to listen to pink-wine naysayers, and you’ve been whiling away your summers enjoying rose-hued charmers from France to B.C. alongside your barbecued salmon and patio-oriented festivities.


      An annual frustration of mine is that so many rosé enthusiasts look at autumn and the coming winter as a time to pack away their pink wine along with sunscreen and swimsuits, thinking that summer is the only appropriate time to place them on the table.

      My initial thought about this philosophy is simple: why? I know many who would never crack a pink wine during winter, yet they often see Rieslings, Chardonnays, and other whites as appropriate. This certainly takes away the argument that a chilled wine during a cooler season doesn’t work. Is it the colour? It can’t be; who doesn’t want a little brightness and cheer during these darker months? What about a wine’s ability to pair well with food? Well, if a crisp and lively rosé doesn’t dovetail perfectly with Thanksgiving or Christmas turkey, then I don’t know what does.

      Pink wines can be pale, crisp, and delicate with the slightest touch of skin contact, or they can revel in those grape skins a little longer and carry a touch more residual sugar to go with something rich and juicy. They can be made anywhere in the world and from any red grape, so the terroir and flavour opportunities are endless.

      Many importers and even winemakers will tell you that people only drink pink wines in the summer, but perhaps that’s because it’s the only time sommeliers and retailers really push them. This becomes a self-perpetuating issue: wineries only make enough to sell through the summer because that’s the only time there’s a focus on selling them; those who sell wine say they only boost pink listings during the summer because that’s the only time wineries make them available.

      The pink-wine category is vast, stretches across myriad styles, and presents endless opportunities at your dinner table. Help me help you to break out of this seasonal cycle.

      Don’t be afraid of ordering a rosé on a chilly December evening at your favourite restaurant. Do pick up a bottle on an idle Wednesday in October to brighten the season. Here are a few to get you started.

      Daydreamer 2013 Rosé ($20 to $25, private liquor stores) from B.C.’s Naramata Bench is like nothing I’ve ever tasted before. I’d been hearing rumblings about this winery, where winemaker/proprietor Marcus Ansems works with 100-percent estate fruit to craft small-batch wines with minimal intervention, but I only recently picked up a bottle, and I’m so glad I did.

      A blend of 80 percent Merlot and 20 percent Viognier explains why the flavour profile is so foreign to me; I can’t think of another mix like this on the planet. Add in just one (influential) month of French oak aging, and we have a wine that’s well built with butterscotch edges that encompass redhaven peach and grilled ruby red grapefruit, plus Southeast Asian lime and cardamom flavours that seemingly go on for hours. If you have one of those pals who thinks pink wines are simple, one-note wonders, this is the wine to show ’em there can be just as many layers and as much complexity as in a robust red.

      Castello di Gabbiano is one of those Italian wineries that’s been a dependable go-to for those who love Chianti. It’s no shocker, then, that its 2012 Rosato made from Sangiovese stays in step with the winery’s renowned quality. If you like Chiantis and are a fan of rosé, you can find this little guy at private liquor stores around town for just under 20 bucks, and it will be right up your alley. Violets, currants, and nectarines are abundant on both the nose and palate, finishing with dried plums and Italian herbs.

      Finally, when we’re thinking about rosé, it’s pretty much sacrilege if we don’t toddle over to Côtes de Provence, as it’s the hub of pink wine in France. Testament to the style of the region, the Roseline 2013 Prestige ($20 to $25, private liquor stores) is a crisp and delicate homage to Cinsault and Grenache, and offers watermelon alongside young strawberries—just in case those winter rains find you nostalgic for the summer. There’s a pinch of pink grapefruit and (please don’t let this frighten you) just a hint of bubble gum on the palate. Altogether, it’s a fresh and spry splash that’ll charm any time of the year.

      I nabbed these wines at Legacy Liquor Store (1633 Manitoba Street) and Kitsilano Wine Cellar (2239 West 4th Avenue), but they’re also available at a few other private stores around town. If you have trouble tracking ’em down, hit me up at