Fifteen years ago, rosé wine was only available in the spring and summer. Come Christmas, all the dry rosés would be gone, and you’d be stuck with White Zinfandel.
Fast forward to 2021: Rosé has become a robust category in its own right, with many options available at local Edmonton restaurants and liquor stores throughout the year. There’s still an annual spring spike in rosé, and more people tend to drink it during the warm months — but it’s no longer available only for part of the year.
Lorraine Ellis, general manager of Partake and Urban Diner, noticed an uptick in the local popularity of rosé about four years ago. She remembers it was around that time when it started being promoted in larger sections at liquor stores. Ellis always lists at least one rosé on the menu of both of her restaurants. She appreciates its wonderful food pairing versatility and easy-drinking flavour profile.
“There used to be a stigma that pink wine was fruity, sweet and for women only,” Ellis says. “We’re getting away from that gendered approach, which is great. Women can drink whatever they want, and men can drink whatever they want.”
Annabelle Evaristo, co-owner of deVine Wines & Spirits, also remembers when the availability of rosé wine was very limited in Edmonton. Now, deVine carries around two dozen rosés at any given time, with an increase in the spring to over 30 and a dip to around 15 over the winter.
“The rosés we see now are very different than the rosés we used to see when the store opened 16 years ago,” she says. “I remember a time when you could find White Zinfandel and some nondescript rosés from Spain and one or two Provençal rosés, and that was pretty much it. But now, we have rosés from all over the place and people know most rosé is dry. The stigma of White Zinfandel isn’t as big as it used to be.”
Evaristo says more people are coming to her store looking for a specific flavour profile, or for something to pair with certain foods, and are much less fixated on the wine having to be a certain colour. She loves recommending rosés to pair with chicken, pork and vegetable dishes.
As our local wine culture continues to grow and evolve, more people are discovering that rosé is more than just a quaffable summer patio sipper. This has encouraged importers and wine agents to bring more interesting and unusual bottles into Alberta, and for customers to discover rosé’s nuances.
“Rosé is very dependent on vintage, just like any other wine,” Evaristo explains. “From year to year, regardless of the region, they really differ.”
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