In this column we will cover spring and summer drinks, specifically Radlers and Rosés. In future columns, I will be covering a range of beers, wines and spirits that are locally available and as much as possible, locally produced. I intend to entertain and inform you each month, and aim to get you out to our local producers and even a bit farther afield for day trips to experience what the region has to offer. I like to travel so special or new finds from around the world will be featured now and then too.
First, let’s talk about a relatively new trend in beers, referred to as shandy’s or radler’s depending on where you come from. Radler style is a blend of half beer and half citrus fruit, which was originally conceived in the Bavarian region of Germany. It is also known as a shandy in Britain.
Radler has an uber light 2 per cent to 4 per cent alcohol, making it perfect for summer, and it’s an easy drink to make yourself. All you need is some of your favourite lager or Hefeweizen and some sparkling lemon or grapefruit soda — just make a 50/50 or 60/40 blend of the two. You can also go to the LCBO, which carries several types of Radler that are widely available.
Radlers are a good alternative to lager beers, which are generally lighter and more refreshing in hot weather than many ales. Radlers go with a wide variety of food too, such as German sausages and pork dishes.
Tip: Look at the beer, wine or spirit country or region of origin and chances are good that it will match their local foods.
Next, let’s talk about a versatile warm-weather wine that is widely available at the LCBO — rosé. To make most rosé wine, red grapes are lightly crushed and left to macerate with their red skins for a little while (anywhere from a few hours to a few days), after which the juice is strained out from the solid stuff (called must) and fermented in tanks. This leaves just a bit of the red colour from the skins in the juice. Rosé isn’t from a specific grape or region; it’s just a genre of wine, like red or white. The biggest producer by volume is France (30 per cent), Spain, where it is called rosado (21 per cent), USA (14 per cent) and Italy where it is called rosato (10 per cent). Most commonly Grenache, Sangiovese, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Carignan, Cinsault, and Pinot Noir grape varietals are used to make Rose.
Rosés are usually a bargain, especially compared with red wines. You’ll have plenty of good options in the $10 to $16 range, and you can get sweeter or dryer versions according to what you like. For example, rose from the Loire (Rosé d’Anjou) is sweeter than rose from Southern France (Provence and Tavel). Canadian versions are more to the dryer side.
Be sure to chill before drinking like you would with a white wine. However, don’t serve it too cold or you will lose the aromas and will not appreciate all the flavours. It goes well with many foods, whether barbecue or beach/picnic fare. It’s also a nice sitting-around watching-TV wine too.
Ontario’s Niagara Peninsula produces some lovely local versions like Featherstone Rosé 2015, off-dry, priced at $15.95 with vibrant and fruity flavours of juicy cherries and strawberries. Just slightly off-dry this rosé is a perfect pairing with fresh berry fruits.
If there’s a wine, beer or spirit you want to know more about or see featured in my column, reach out to me. I’m always interested in trying new flavours.
First published in the June edition of Hometown News. Read more of the June issue in our digital version.