Okay, the sun is out, it feels like summer, and I saw the first wine column on Rose today. So that means I need to do my annual blog as well!
The subject – as always – is whether Rose should be dry or sweet. But, for me, this isn’t an “either/or” question. Instead, if the wine is made well, the answer is – both!
But first a quick reminder about what Rose is. Almost always, Rose starts as a red wine and is made by leaving the skins on for just a little while. The contact with the skins provides the colour, which can range from a light salmon to a deep pink colour. As well, because the wine is made from red grapes, it tends to have more body and flavour than most white wines.
Now, back to the issue – sweet or dry.
The main problem with sweet Rose is its legacy. Most people growing up have, unfortunately, tried bad sweet red wine. White Zinfandel, Mateus, Baby Duck – there are lots of other examples. Sickly sweet to the point of almost being cloying, it is hard to drink more than a glass (if that). And that is what many people think of when they hear the word Rose.
At the opposite end or the spectrum – particularly for people who have been to the south of France – is dry Rose. The same colour as its sweet cousin, but a very different animal once you taste it! Dry, sometimes very dry, with far less fruit, although no wood to speak off.
In between is the off-dry version which – interestingly – is increasingly being made, and made well, in British Columbia. Once again, the same colours, but explosively fruity on the nose and in the mouth, and very balanced in the mouth, but finishing just a touch off dry. On a hot summer afternoon, there are few things that are better.
So which is the right choice?
Well, I certainly agree that the sickly sweet versions are to be avoided at all costs. So we have no arguments there.
The dry ones? Well, when we were in the south of France a number of years ago, that was all we drank, and we loved them. It was summer, so very hot, and they are incredibly refreshing! As well, with no sweetness, but lots of body, they go great with a wide range of food, from seafood to cassoulet and duck confit.
The problem, though, can be the cost. Dry Rose has become trendy, which means that some of the “name brands” are getting very pricey, even approaching – and exceeding – the $40 mark! Tavel is one that has always been up there, but recently Brad Pitt and Anjolina Jolie also made one that was a bit less than that. It was good, but not worth the extra bucks.
In my view, Rose is like Beaujolais – it should be simple, easy to drink, and less (hopefully far less) than $20. In France, there are lots of examples of that for far less. In fact, it is often thrown in as part of dinner in many restaurants!
As for the off-dry versions, I love the best of them – in the summer. In BC, La Frenz makes the best one (for around $18) – it is bursting with ripe grapefruit! Quails Gate makes another, as does Chaberton in Langley, both of which are a few bucks cheaper. Sitting on the deck, with or without food – there are few things better!
So the answer, then, is dry and sweet, or at least off dry. Summer is short enough, so why not enjoy both?