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Pretty in pink: Salute the season with rose wines

Easter menus or spring brunches--perfect occasions to enjoy rose wines
Rose wines just look like spring, don't they? And they're a great addition to your springtime holiday meals. Photo: Metro Creative Connection

With springtime upon us, winter boots, heavy jackets and sweaters can all be stored away. It’s time to break out the windbreakers, lighter sweaters and rainboots! It’s also the season to begin enjoying lighter and fresher foods. Did you know you can do this with your wine choices too?

Albertans do consume more red than white wines. But there is another alternative to traditional, heavier red wines, and that’s to! But before you turn up your nose and tell me you don’t drink sweet wine, let me share with you some facts about rosé ( rose ay) wines.

Rosé is a type of wine made from red wine grapes, produced similarly to red wine, but with reduced time fermenting with grape skins. This reduced skin contact gives rosé a pink hue and lighter flavour than red wine. Its distinct pink colour is obtained through a production process known as maceration. Red grapes are juiced and left to soak (macerate) with their skins for a day or two until the juice turns a subtle pink colour. The skins are removed, and the juice continues to ferment. The wine gets darker the longer the rosé is left to macerate with the skins. Therefore, rosé wines can range in colour from a pale light salmon to bright and often dark pink. Rosé is not the same as a blush wine, which is a combination of red and white wine.

Rosé is produced around the world from wherever red wine grapes are grown. It can be made from a single varietal or a blend of two or more red grapes. Most of the world’s premium dry rosés are made in Provence, France typically made from Grenache, Cinsault, Mourvedre, and Syrah grapes. They generally command a higher price. Rosé resembles the flavour profile of a light red wine, but with brighter and crisper tasting notes.

Frequent descriptors of rosé wine flavour include: red fruits (strawberry, cherry, raspberry), flowers, citrus and melon. It is a dry wine, like its red cousins. If you’ve been turned off rosé, it’s likely because you were drinking California white zinfandel, a sweet style pink wine popularized in the late 1970’s and 1980’s. This was the result of a production mistake and led to a 'new' style wine that was popular among sweet wine drinkers. It is still popular with many consumers to this day.

Here's a challenge for you: If you consider yourself a dyed-in-the-wool red wine drinker, next time you're buying wine, ask the sales associate to show you a red wine and a rosé from the same country and made from the same red grape. Take them home, chill the rosé, then open both and see the similarities while also tasting the differences. The beauty of rosé is it will pair beautifully with barbecue or grilled chicken or fish, fresh vegetables, and salads. It’s a perfect accompaniment to your spring meal! And for an Easter meal, put out a bottle of the refreshing pink stuff along with a sparkling wine to accompany it. Salut!

Alison Phillips is co-owner of Aligra Wine and Spirits in West Edmonton Mall.