Real men wear and drink pink

By / Wine + Drinks / March 27th, 2017 / 16

(Pictured: Tony Aspler, left, and Billy Munnelly; Image credit: “Men in Pink 2016” by Malcolm Jolley, founding editor of Good Food Revolution and Executive Director of Good Food Media)

Each July for the past eight years, restaurateur John Maxwell and wine scribe Billy Munnelly have hosted an event they call Men in Pink. It’s held at Allen’s on Danforth Avenue in Toronto. Allen’s is Maxwell’s funky bar and restaurant described by the owner as a “loving tribute to the Irish-American saloons of his native New York.”

Men in Pink is an al fresco lunch. Not, as it might appear at first blush, a fundraiser in aid of breast cancer, but a celebration of one of the most misunderstood and maligned beverages — rosé wine.

It’s a men-only event and all the guests — usually around 50 — are required to dress in something pink. Ontario winemakers bring along bottles of their rosés which are copiously poured throughout a lunch whose courses are also pink in colour.

This year the menu was buttermilk beet and radish soup, barbecued smoked salmon, barbecued Limousin beef tenderloin (served pink, with a pink peppercorn and rosé sauce ) and a dessert of strawberry panacotta with fresh strawberries and orange sauce.

Probably more pink wine is consumed within four hours on those July days at Allen’s than anywhere else on the planet.

“How Do You Get Bros to Drink Rosé Wine?” That was the headline of an article in Ad Weekly magazine published as recently as May of 2016. Their advice: “Package It Like It’s Beer.”

Not that this pretty wine needs any such marketing machinations since the rosé category has been no. 1 with a bullet on liquor board charts — and around the world — for the last couple of years. Ontarians can choose from 164 rosés currently on LCBO shelves; Quebecers have even more — 187 at the SAQ; and in BC there are 128 skids at the BCLD.

There was a time when real men did not eat quiche or drink pink wine. But this is 2016, and real men wear and drink pink; although quiche, not so much.

Conspiracy theorists might ascribe the trend to a feminist plot to emasculate men, but the universal appeal of rosés, whether still or sparkling, has more to do, I believe, with a reaction to the heavy, densely coloured, high-alcohol wines of the New World, and the fact that rosés are not only the quintessential wine of summer but they’re also versatile food wines.

Rosés are also inexpensive — apart from Domaine Ott’s Château de Selle Coeur de Grain Rosé. The LCBO listed it at $46.95, which is more than double the price of the celebrity rosé Miraval owned by Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. Miraval looked like bargain by comparison at $22.95. This wine is a partnership between the A-list couple and the Perrin family who own Château de Beaucastel. And then there is Domaine Tempier Bandol Rosé that sells in the US for $42; and the wine Forbes magazine erroneously named as “The World’s Most Expensive Rosé” in March 2015: Caves d’Esclans Whispering Angel Rosé at $26.95.

What these four wines have in common is provenance: they all come from Provence, the spiritual home of rosé; and all, for the most part, are based on Grenache. And they are all virtually the same colour — the palest rosés you will see. Flesh pink, in fact.

When it comes to choosing rosé the only thing you have to worry about is the sweetness level. Many producers, especially in Canada, leave some residual sugar in their wines in the belief — mistaken as far as most wine lovers are concerned — that consumes expect a fruity sweetness in a pink wine.

Dry ’em out, I say, and make rosé a year-round wine rather than confining it to the sun-drenched months of summer.


Tony Aspler, Order of Canada recipient, has been writing about wine since 1975. He is the author of 18 wine books, including The Wine Atlas of Canada and three wine murder mystery novels. The best concert he ever attended was Rush with the Tragically Hip as the opening band. His favourite comfort food is milk chocolate and his cocktail of choice is a Kir Royale. At home, he drinks wine (lots of wine).

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