Hands up if you’ve ever been embarrassed to admit you like your wine, pink. Come on now, be honest. Thought so.
Until recently rosés were served with a sneer and a shooter of judgement; dismissed as a girly tipple for the ‘little lady’ or worse, the effeminate man. But in the last few years, something’s happened; there’s been a seismic shift in the world of wine. Wine snobbery has planted its foot firmly on the break and executed a speed-reverse into a 360 spin. Now, we simply adore rosé dahhhhlings.
All of a sudden, wines the hue of an embarrassed strawberry are desirable, covetable, expensive. Yes, expensive. You can now spend anywhere from £60 to £80 to quaff the top shelf of pretty pink stuff.
France has been selling more bottles of rosé in its domestic market than whites for a few years now. Of course ‘Branjelina’ may be partially responsible for putting the capital F in fashionable when they bought their vineyard in Provence for a cool £60 mil in 2013. They tinkered with the recipe, changed the shape of their rose bottle and Mirval has been leaping off the shelves ever since. Nothing like the whiff of celebrity to have us questioning our vinous path.
This is not a bad thing – not at all – fashion and fickleness are both entertaining, and excellent news for the world’s rosé producers. As France produces most of the world’s rosé, it is particularly good news for that country’s wine industry. Provence is the French region most distinctly associated with rose production, but there are other, less well know regions of France producing excellent pink wine too. One lesser-known region of rose production is the Loire Valley further North, bringing me to a nifty little segue into my lovely dinner night with Loire Valley Wines at Portland restaurant.
While I do know people who would, if pressed, admit to their fondness for rosé, I’ve never been a fan myself. So when invited to a wine and food pairing night featuring rosés I had a little flinch - ever so briefly - until my less judgemental self thought perhaps I should be open to an education.
I was mostly convinced by the venue for the dinner. I’ve had a mild crush on the lovely Soho restaurant ‘10 Greek Street’ since arriving in London (see my review here). And Portland, which opened earlier this year, is one of their siblings. It’s been on my ‘list’.
But I did do some girly-swat pre-work on rosé before the night to make sure I wasn’t outed as a fraudy fake on the night. I discovered that rosés aren’t actually white wine tinted with raspberry cordial, but in fact red wine grapes that are only allowed to sit in the juice for a short period of time, thus giving the rosé it’s distinctive pinky blush. We tastes six wines, most of which were roses and all of which were gorgeous luscious sexy shades of light pink lollies.
They were all different, some worked better for me than others, but that was the nature of the night. Lovely Ruth guided us through the tastings, encouraging us to experience the wines as freely as we could and not to feel like our opinions invalid. Phew. Happily, from a follow up purchase point of view, none of the wines we tried went anywhere near nudging the £80 mark. One of the best selling points for rosé is their relative affordability - unless you really want to show off.
The pairings generally worked really well. Often the food brought a particular note to the wine which made it far more pleasurable to drink than without it. It was clever, inventive pairing. I would never have thought a rosé would have nearly enough guts to carry pickled mushroom or the earthiness of truffle, but voila! it worked. A wine re-education had begun. Pink is definitely a colour I’d happily add to my wine wardrobe.
I had a lovely night and floated home in a pink haze. Many thanks to the lovely people of Square Meal who arranged the evening and to Loire Valley Wines and Portland Restaurant who hosted us. There are far too many superlatives to talk about Portland Restaurant here so you can read my review of the restaurant over there.
And if you’re keen to give pink a go yourself, here’s a list of what we tried on the night:
- Domaine Bellevue Sauvignon Blanc Touraine 2014, Laithwaites, £10.99
- Domaine de l’Aumonier, Touraine Sauvignon 2014, Stone, Vine and Sun, £9.95
- Rosé d’Anjou Domaine des Essarts 2014, Christopher Piper Wines, £8.50
- Rosé d’Anjou 2014, Marks and Spencer, £8.00
- Red Touraine Les Marcottes Domaine de Pierre 2012, Lea & Sandeman, £9.95
- Rosé d’Anjou, La Jaglerie 2014, The Oxford Company, £7.99
All opinions my very own. I cannot be bribed. (Well I can, but it involves chocolate, not wine).