Don’t Sweat the Pink Stuff
by Michael Pinkus
It’s a polarizing wine. It causes rifts in the time-space continuum. Fights between family members run deep and friends have been known to shun one another because of it. And, yet, it can be one of the most enjoyable summer sippers. It’s rosé and I have seen it break up families and friendships faster than “the other woman.”
I have also never seen a wine that breaks along gender lines quite like it. In general, women love it. Men loath it—for no other reason than its colour. It is the ultimate in wine discrimination: “Why would I drink a wimpy pink when I could have a manly red?!”
For example, last summer, I found myself with a friend on a wonderful roof-top patio. I was drinking glass after glass of a Huff Estates Rosé, while my buddy kept trying to find the perfect wine for his afternoon enjoyment—that wasn’t pink. “I don’t drink that stuff,” he said in the huskiest man voice he could muster. But, while I was comfortably and contentedly sipping on my rosé, he must have ordered a number of different wines during his search. The waitress would come by, he’d ask to see the wine list, pick yet another non-rosé… and I’d point to my glass and say, “Another, please.”
What causes a man, on a hot, summer’s afternoon to repress his love for red (or even white) and order something pink? Could it be that he’s more comfortable in his manhood? Quite possibly. But, he might also know what many women have known for years: when it comes to summer, pink is in, pink is refreshing, pink is tasty but, most of all, pink is cool.
It wasn’t always thus. Do you remember names like white zinfandel, white merlot or any of the other names given to sweet, pink wines? Does the term “blush,” when referring to wines, make you do just that? Then you, my friend, are showing your age. It was the heyday of poorly made off-reds and not-quite whites. A time when bell bottoms and Bermuda shorts reigned over our wardrobe, Cadillacs clogged the roads and politics was ruled by Reagan-nomics. It was the time of the sickly, sweet pinkies.
I heard a quote from an Environment Canada representative recently who said, “Our collective memory about weather goes back only two years.” I have noticed, however, that our collective memory of bad wines goes back much further. We all remember the first time we heard of, or even tasted, Baby Duck; but who can remember what the weather was like in the summer of ’71 (the year “The Duck” was first produced) or in 1978 (the year it went global).
Rosé has come a long way since those days when Mateus andThe Duck rode high in the saddle. These days, things aren’t as sweet and syrupy and when something has bubbles in it, it isn’t just window dressing—they are there on purpose.
Serious rosé sparkling wines have gone through a secondary fermentation leaving behind an array of lovely red fruit, nice acidity and citrus notes to balance it all off, making them a perfect way to get a summer afternoon started, inside or outside.
The still stuff has also gone through a renaissance of sorts. Gone are the days when every pink wine had essence of strawberry added to the bottle to pump up the red fruit flavours and give it an over-the-top, cooler-like sweetness to attract the younger crowd (though some still do exist). More and more producers are discovering the refreshing flavours and delicate nature of a dry, food-friendly rosé.
Were you aware that a few summers back rosé took over as the number one consumed wine, outpacing red and white, during the hot months? That’s because people have discovered this cross-over wine: a wine that brings all the fruitiness of red and the acidity of white together all in one glass that matches well with food and makes a super mid-afternoon sipper on a roof top patio.
As an aside, I have a friend who only drinks rosé—full stop. It seems he’s been hip and ahead of the curve for years and we’re all just catching up. So, don’t be afraid of putting pink in your glass this summer. Get comfortable with your manhood, womanhood, or whatever “hood” you want. And, when you’re out and about on some roof top patio, raise your glass with an air of authority and in a loud, clear voice, say, “Garcon, encore de rosé s’il vous plait,” or something like that. After all, you don’t want to draw too much attention to yourself for fear of being shunned.