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Brandon Sun - PRINT EDITION

Dry rosés offer great options for summer sipping

Versatile.

That’s the operative word when discussing dry rosés.

These beautifully hued, often contradictory, sometimes surprising beverages are good any time of the year. But they seem particularly suited to the hottest months, when white wine drinkers occasionally want a change from their usual beverage, and red wine drinkers are seeking something that’s perhaps not quite as heavy as their regular imbibement, but that’s still got plenty of guts.

Manitoba Liquor Marts have brought in a collection of dry rosés for the summertime, wines that will be, to lift a line from an ever-popular Trooper song, "here for a good time, not a long time."

So I figured I’d better get the word out about some of these bevvys while there was (hopefully) some warm weather still ahead of us.

Just as an aside, before we get to the nitty-gritty, I should emphasize that we’re not talking White Zinfandel here. We’re not talking sweet wines at all. These are called "dry" rosés for a reason. While I know some people prefer their wine sweet, and there are plenty of sugary pink-coral-blush-coloured rosés out there, I think a lot of folks still dismiss all wines of that colour as sweet — sometimes sickeningly so. But that’s simply not the case. And if one is not into sweet wines, and is willing give the following offerings a try, I think there’s a good chance some individuals will be more than pleasantly surprised.

At a tasting a few weeks back, I sampled five different dry rosés. And while I was more enamoured by some of them than others — one I didn’t like at all, so I won’t even mention it — four of them were very tasty. And quite different, which makes this sort of side-by-side sampling so much fun.

And in addition to versatile, that’s the word I’d choose to describe dry rosés.

Different.

I poured a dry rosé to have on the deck the other night, just for a change from my usual pre-meal glass of white. Wow! It was so great to have something that was not my regular thing. And according to MLCC product ambassador Kathy Boultbee, that’s the beauty of dry rosés.

"Rosé is better than white wine," she said. "It has more flavor than white wine. And what I think is really cool about dry rosés is that they’re often a red-wine-drinker’s white wine."

Case in point: the 2010 Mas Amor Rosado from Spain ($15.99). With tons of flavour and a dry finish, it should please red wine drinkers who are searching for something that satisfies their thirst for flavour and yet isn’t as heavy as a red on a hot summer day.

Most of the featured dry rosés boast the same aromas and flavours, just in varying intensity. You can expect to sense cherry and strawberry and red currant. But they’re not cloyingly fruity, which is what makes them so enigmatic.

Probably my favourite of the bunch, although it was hard to choose, was the 2011 Brotte Tavel les Eglantiers from France. As usual, though, my Champagne taste came through again — this one sells for $19.99. But it’s just so ... good! There are layers and levels of taste in here that almost defy description.

Les Fuméés Blanches Rosé from France for $13.99 had the most pronounced bouquet of the bunch, but was light and airy. Yet it still, somehow, had a bit of weight. And the Trapiche "Zaphy" Organic Rosé from Argentina was quite intense and packed a lot of flavour for $12.99 a bottle.

The crispness of these wines is, I think, what makes them so very appealing. And in addition to being great sippers, they, perhaps surprisingly, pair really well with food.

"Rosés actually match to a lot of things," Boultbee said. "Shellfish, a heavier fish like salmon, chicken, pork, even surf and turf. Because if you have a rosé that has a lot of body to it, and you do a lighter steak, like a filet, the rosé would go well with both."

Another tip from Boultbee: If a rosé comes from North America, you can assume that even if the label claims the wine is dry, it’s likely to have a bit of sweetness to it. But if your rosé comes from places other than North America — say South America (witness the Zaphy) or Europe, it’s almost certainly going to be dry.

Unlike some other wines, dry rosés are meant to be drunk young. They’re not so great if they’re aged. When they’re new, they’re crisp and flavourful, so the 2010011 vintages at the Liquor Marts are what one should seek.

I liked all of the above-mentioned wines for different reasons, which is the beauty of these little gems. I liked the lightness of the Fumee. I liked the complicated layering of the Tavel. I liked the Zaphy just because it was ballsy and fun. The Mas Amor, really, tastes very much like red wine. And even though I don’t like light red wine, for the summertime, the Mas Amor is a great compromise.

So the clock is ticking. Pick up a dry rosé today, and embrace the difference.

Raise a glass. And clink pink.

Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition August 4, 2012

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Versatile.

That’s the operative word when discussing dry rosés.

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Versatile.

That’s the operative word when discussing dry rosés.

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