The return of the light and the steady drip drip drip of the snow melting has re-awakened my yearning for all that the Yukon has to offer us in our other, non-winter seasons.
Last week, I stopped at the Liquor Corporation store to look for a couple of rosé wines (rosé meaning “pinkish”) to try out for spring.
There’s something about the colour of rosé wines that I find springlike and cheerful, although in southern Europe they are a hot-weather favourite down the Mediterranean coast from France to Portugal.
In those places, served chilled to about 10 C, just about the current outdoor temperature these days in the Yukon, they are a wonderful lunchtime wine with all manner of ham, summer sausage and cold chicken-and-pasta salad dishes.
This hue of wines has become increasingly popular in North America and Europe. Pink-coloured and moderately sweet white zinfandels and blush wines, from California, are perennial bestsellers.
Sutter Home White Zinfandel ($10.80), introduced in 1975, continues, year after year, to be one of the bestselling wines in the U.S. And rosé wines now outsell white wines in France.
Two very different but representative styles of rosé wine can be found locally.
The first, representative of the sweeter end of the taste range, is the well-known Sogrape Mateus Rosé ($12.10) from Portugal. It has a light bouquet and, when you taste it, I taste hints of pear flavours. But after you swallow, the finish or aftertaste is dry, not cloying or sweet.
This medium-sweet, slightly fizzy wine was created in 1942 and became popular in the 60s and 70s in Canada and the U.S. Many wine drinkers of a certain vintage will recall this as their first wine-tasting adventure, sometimes with mixed results.
But Sogrape Mateus Rosé remains the most-successful wine exported from Portugal and, when chilled down, a delightful accompaniment to cold chicken. As well, I find its sweetness works really well to complement salty, cured meats like ham or sliced sausage. I also suspect that it might be an interesting match with halibut. Hmm, I’ll have to make a note to try that.
The second rosé that I tried was the French Chamarré Grenache Syrah ($14.15). Like virtually all French rosés I have tried, this one is bone dry. Classic French rosés come from the Anjou and Loire regions, but this one come from the up-and-coming wine region of the Isle of Corsica (Napoleon’s birthplace). While a part of France, the island is located off the Piedmont coast of Italy, in the Mediterranean.
In the last 20 years, Corsica has been working hard to build their wine reputation. They market their wine region not as Corsica, but as the L’ile de Beauté (the Isle of Beauty). This one is produced using Syrah and Grenache grapes and is a still, dry wine.
With little bouquet that I could identify, the flavour is much tarter than the Mateus … I thought with both some apricot and citrus hints. I would pair it with herb-roasted chicken, pasta or potato salad, white-fleshed seafood and maybe even oysters.
So give a rosé a try, some night, for something different. It may make you think of the warmer weather and longer days ahead.