Lorette C. Luzajic continues her Wine and Art series…
Did you hear the good news? Drinking pink is now respectable.
Of course you did! For the past five years, it seems every article written about rosé wine is about how it’s now socially acceptable to like it. With this year’s crop, and these winemakers, rosé can even be served in polite company!
But the only ones who really need convincing are the cynics who consider themselves the sole arbiters of right taste. They are clinging for dear life to their chewy reds. Summer passes them by each year as we hoi polloi embrace plastic picnic stemless cups slosh-full of pink drink. That cool touch of blush water and sugar is refreshing and light when we’re lakeside, or on a city sidewalk patio. There is no better wine for those days when the sun just never goes down and our friends just never leave.
I’ll admit I’ve been on both sides of this story. My first love affair (after No Name Alcohol Screwdrivers) was Mateus, with Mother, and then, yes, the legendary Autumn Blush of Sawmill Creek. All the typos in my early writings can be directly attributed to these! Oh, I wanted to evolve, I did, but a few sips of red always gave me hives and a headache. But I did graduate to white and lose my taste for the sweet nothings along the way.
Years later, my tannin allergy dissipated. A miracle! Yes, you can lose an allergy. So there is hope for those restless souls who long to sample the forbidden fruits of Carmenere and Shiraz. My reds-only phase lasted a number of years, as I had to make up for lost time and discover all there was.
But things in life tend to go full circle. And now summers are incomplete without rosé. Light, bright, fresh, crisp, cool, dry pink wines entice with citrus and mouthfuls of garden herbs. Some of the off-dry varieties are gorgeous too, as cold and sweet as popsicles.
Here are some delightful rosés you won’t want to miss. And since we’re talking about masterpieces, I’ve paired each perfect wine with a pink painting.
Château De Berne Terres De Berne Rosé 2015
The square, stately bottle is what sells it first, but you’ll go back for it again because it’s perfect. Dry as wine can come, but as quenching as sweet spring water. The colour of intense chardonnay with melted ice cubes. The Grenache-Cinsault marriage is featherweight on the tongue, and delicate but generous. ($16.95 – LCBO# 278861)
Pair it with:
Which ones? All tulle and gossamer, Edgar Degas on the surface is but a pink and fizzy dream. Still, I was not surprised to learn that he was also an early enthusiast of photography as art, and had quite a repertoire of photography. His awe of the dual sultriness and innocence of young women at dance reveals that he looked closely at the world around him. He captured the ballet with a subtly restrained sentimentality; dance’s dark undercurrents of discipline, asceticism, and raw passion are muted but ever-present.
Autumn Blush by Sawmill Creek
Wine is as much about memory as it is about the present senses and tenses, so Sawmill Creek’s Autumn Blush will always taste like halcyon summer days gone by.
For some, it was a rhapsodic moonlit snog with an Amy Grant soundtrack on cassette from the dashboard. For me, it was days spent calling in sick to drink pink in the afternoon, in bed with my late bestie watching General Hospital. This old standby is most properly bought by the box! It is the syrup of the gods, as sugary as cotton candy. ($34.96 for a 4L bag in the box – LCBO# 68528)
Pair it with:
Hello Dawn by Melissa Haslam
This curious number hints of Henri Rousseau in its foliage, of Gauguin, too, and the pre-Raphaelites shimmer in the female embrace. The painting is the exact shade of the best of all pink wines. The cheery, eerie birthday balloons of a spectral Hello Kitty’s floating face are disquieting and hypnotic.
The imagery toys with my internal storage, stirring up an unusual concoction of fragmented memories. And of all the unanswerable questions in life, this piece presents the most perplexing: why is the blonde sucking on Hello Kitty’s ear?
It’s the painting I keep turning back to in my trusty reference volume, Hello Kitty Art. Anyone who has ever spent an altered state watching the dawn will instinctively remember these girls, and these balloons, from that strange and beautiful field of dreams. (See also melissahaslam.com.)
Henry of Pelham Rosé VQA
Rosé has moved from its longtime role under the bleachers and declared a place for itself both in the hands of the people and the hands of the people with red ribbons.
This stuff just won gold at the All Canadian Wine Championships, well deserved.
This local treasure is a rich shade better described as “light red” than pink. Pure liquid lipstick, and yet the packaging has a simple, direct, masculine sensibility, making it a versatile guest at dinner parties.
As for the contents, it’s not so much that it stands out as that it blends in. It provides a solid norm or standard for which future flavours should strive. It flirts with sweetness but is never sticky on the palate. It is clean and bright and vibrant with flower petals and cherries and a hint of tobacco. And it manages all this as a plonk medley of Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon, Gamay, Zweigelt, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc. Which is way too many grapes! But artful blending has managed to wring from this complicated juice a sturdy simplicity. And the lower-than-average booze percentage provides a pleasurable, tidy experiential. Between April and September, you should always have a spare. ($14.95 – LCBO# 613471)
Pair it with:
Untitled 1967 by Mark Rothko
Pink and orange, pink and black and yellow, pink and red, Rothko didn’t miss a conceivable pigment combination in his lifetime. The mad brilliance of Mark Rothko is how anyone can defy every notion we have about art and paint nothing but giant expanses of colour. We all scratch our heads and think of the untold millions exchanged for these straightforward giants, but we can’t help falling under the spell of the colours.
Gay Rosé 2014 by Naked Winery, Oregon
No, I’m not making this up. Some say stereotypes are passé, and others say they should be shamelessly displayed and played and sashayed. This campy jewel is simply Gay, and its makers actually describe it as a “bright and flamboyant bouquet, light and fruity in a fabulous way.” ($US 20 – nakedwinery.com)
Pair it with:
Pink Camouflage by Andy Warhol
An underrated theme or series in Warhol is his mass production of camouflage silkscreens, made all the more stunning by his tongue in cheek neutrality. There’s zero evidence that his series is making any kind of statement about war, masculinity, or any other hot button. He is simply documenting its ubiquity. The pink camo is campy genius. Long before the advent of pink construction workers’ steel toed boots! For Andy, your toast has got to be shabby chic and fey as a three dollar bill- I’d say Gay Rosé, by its own admission, fills that bill.
L’Orangeraie 2015 Vin De Pays D’Oc, France
Grenache, Cinsault, Syrah and Merlot. Here’s another tipsy jumble of varietals that strikes a perfect note. I call this one the Baby Aspirin wine, because that’s what it tastes like, and that’s its colour, and because it’s mild on the alcohol. It’s my go-to rosé. Cheap and dry and just darling. ($9.85 – LCBO# 279661)
Pair it with:
Pink Water Lilies by Claude Monet
You may have heard me say mean things about Monet, like my quip that one of Saddam’s secret torture chambers was just locking a prisoner in the Monet wing of a gallery for the night. In my mellower years stumbling over the hill, I’ve come to appreciate him more, in small doses, some of the time- just like pink wine.
Never mind that the fifty million dollars these Pink Water Lilies fetched recently at Sotheby’s could have bought a whole gallery full and a stocked wine cellar and a vineyard in France. The painting’s tentative temperament and peach-pink palette is baby aspirin, too, a splendid accompaniment for L’Orangeraie. All plush and hush and baby blush, it’s just the right way to say rock’a’bye to summer.