A Guide to Choosing the Ideal Summer Rosé
Senior Sommelier Billy Woon shares his expert tips and recommendations
Warm sunshine, breezy afternoons, and the delightful clink of glasses — we’re soaking in every bit of summer… also known as rosé season! Whether you’re a poolside sipper, park picnicker, an avid eater-out, or someone who loves a good sunset soirée, nothing quite captures the essence of the season like a chilled glass of crisp rosé. Since not all rosés are created equal, we tapped Billy Woon, Senior Sommelier at Canoe, Auberge du Pommier, and Leña, for his favourite ways to drink pink. Here are his tips on how to choose the ideal bottle for your taste.
Are there any regions that are particularly known for having great rosé? Both in Canada and globally?
Yes! Maybe the most well-known is Provence, which is located in the heart of the French Riviera and is just a short drive away from some of France’s most popular coastal towns and cities. Another great region for rosé is Etna in Sicily. Finally, Rioja and Navarra in Spain also produce some of my personal favourites.
When it comes to Canada, I really enjoy Malivoire’s ‘Moira’ rosé. Located in Beamsville, Ontario, Malivoire Winery’s rosé is said to be among some of the very best in the country. And we can’t forget British Columbia. JoieFarm makes a very nice bottle as well.
What’s the best way to tell if a rosé is going to be sweet or dry?
Alcohol is usually the best indicator. If it’s less than 11–12%, you should expect some residual sugar. For dry styles, 12–13% is ideal.
What does a rosé’s hue say about it? Does a pale rosé imply a lighter taste?
Generally speaking, yes. A pale rosé is usually lighter than something that appears deep pink. A deeper colour is often the result of ripeness and extraction from the skins, in which case you should expect a fuller or richer style. Colour can also be influenced by the grape variety. For example, pinot noir produces less pigment than syrah.
Why do you feel rosé is such a summer staple? Is it because it pairs so well with seasonal summer foods?
Exactly, it’s the perfect pair for light, fresh fare often served in the warmer months. Plus, rosé isn’t fussy. You can usually grab something great for under $20, and it’s often sealed with a twist top, so you don’t have to remember a corkscrew (or really think too hard about it)! Rosé is simply easy to drink and very crushable in the heat of summer.
When shopping for a bottle, how reasonably priced can you go without compromising taste?
I would say $15 is a good starting point. Whether you’re looking for something light and crisp, delicate and refreshing, fruity and playful, or elegant and complex, you can often find a reasonably-priced bottle to suit your palate. Of course, you can always go up from there. Sometimes the occasion calls for a splurge.
Is it a faux pas to drink rosé on ice in a pinch?
Personally, I wouldn’t recommend it. While it chills your wine, it can also eventually dilute it, which will in turn affect the colour, aroma, texture, and taste. If you forget to chill your bottle ahead of serving, you can use an ice bath (a mixture of water and ice) for 30 minutes. If you know guests are coming by (or you tend to be the BBQ or pool party household), keep a couple of chilled bottles on hand. That way, when visitors show up with a bottle they just picked up, you already have a cold one ready to go.
What are the best glasses for serving rosé?
Stemless wine glasses are perfect. Regular stemmed white wine glasses work too!
Is there a specific food pairing that you would recommend with rosé?
Personally, when I’m cooking at home, I love pairing rosé with a fresh whole grilled sea bream (head on) with lots of olive oil, sea salt, fresh herbs, and garlic. When I’m dining out, a seafood pasta is a great option — something like linguine vongole would be ideal. You want the wine to stand up to the food without overpowering it.
Can you recommend some of your favourite budget-friendly and splurge-worthy LCBO wines?
What about recommendations for what to drink when dining out?
There are some lovely rosés that you can find at Oliver & Bonacini restaurants across the city. Here are a few that I wouldn’t hesitate to order.
Any final words?
Another tip is to stay away from flavoured rosé wines. Keep it simple and allow a rosé to shine in its natural state without the addition of tropical fruits or gimmicky trends. Finally, you really don’t need to spend a lot to have a great bottle! Whether you’re perusing the aisles of your local liquor store or celebrating patio season with O&B’s curated Rosé All Day offerings, wallet-friendly picks can offer incredible value without compromising on quality and taste.
Cheers to drinking pink!