Are you looking for a food & wine column that’s fun to read with wine suggestions that you can easily afford?

Each Friday, we feature “Wine Down for the Weekend.” Read on for a fabulous easy-to-make dinner paired with an affordable bottle of wine and a viewing suggestion. We’re here to help you sit back, wine down and chill.

After the devastating fire of Paris’ renowned Notre Dame Cathedral, I was compelled to do an homage to France this week. I am truly blessed to have sat in those historic pews a few times.

Truly enchantingthere is something ethereal and obviously highly spiritual about sitting within those hallowed walls. Cheers to the firefighters who saved the global treasure and to the French Fashion houses who have committed to rebuilding it.

What To Drink

Last week, I was in Canada’s wine region, Niagara-on-the-Lake. Naturally, my sister and I stopped in at one of my favorite wineries, Henry of Pellham. They recently rolled out a new rosé which had our names all over it. No, not their wine, Sibling Rivalry, which is as fun to drink as it is to say, but it was their 2017 Three of Hearts rosé that called to us.

Coincidentally, it is a lot like a rosé I featured last month, the Gérard Bertrand Côte des Roses. Here’s where it gets interesting. The two wineries actually have a co-marketing agreement in place so that you can buy either wine in Ontario or New York. Yippee! Priced at only $16 a bottle, it’s hard to find but it’s worth hunting for.

Three of Hearts is dry with hints of cranberry, citrus and maybe even a little bit of cherry. Like most rosé wines, it’s a mélange (that’s French for mixture) of grapes. The Henry of Pellham Rosé contains a couple of dark-skinned red grape varietals including Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir. Plus it also includes some green-skinned varietals including Riesling and Pinot Gris which grow particularly well in the Niagara Peninsula.

How Do They Make It ‘Pink?’

Rosé wines are typically fermented cold in stainless steel tanks to preserve the delicate fruity and floral notes. How much pink is too pink? Generally, winemakers strive for just a hint of pink as darker hues are often equated with a lower quality. The magical blush color can be produced from one of three methods:

  • One, through contact. As is the case for the Henry of Pellham Rosé, the hint of pink results from a mere three hours of contact with the grape skins. Typical contact time for rosé is anywhere from 2 – 24 hours.
  • Two, the French method of saignée, which refers to the process of “bleeding the wine” to remove some of the pinkish juice from the grape must in order to intensify the final color.
  • Three, simply blending some red wine into white wine. In a word? Non! The French frown down on method three with disgust on par of an esteemed French vintner comparing his Bordeaux to box wine. Not that there’s anything wrong with box wines but …

Love Rosé? Then Get Your Pink On

I am so excited! Tickets just went on sale for the most Instagrammable rosé wine tasting on the planet.

The Rosé Mansion in NYC opens June 1st and runs until the end of August. Each room in the mansion has a different pink theme. And, more importantly, a different rosé to sample. See you there!

But act fast, this event sold out last year with 100,000 guests touring the wine amusement park.

Eat Like the French

Today’s wine down and chill food pairing is, of course, you guessed it, something French. Salad Nicoise, in fact. It’s light and has a nice nod to Spring.

5 Ingredients In 5 Steps

One, create the first layer with green leaf lettuce.

Two, boil or fork-stab a handful of baby potatoes for a few minutes, with the skins on. Slice into bite-size pieces and add to the salad.

Three, boil or microwave a handful of green string beans. Some people use asparagus but I don’t like how it pairs with the wine.

Four, boil an egg or two. Add rotisserie chicken if you need more protein.

Five, slice up a tomato. Toss with Brianna’s Homestyle Dijon Mustard Salad Dressing. Optionally, you can garnish with black olives or thinly sliced red onions.

Pour yourself a glass of this delicate rosé then wine down and chill.

What To Watch?

The film classic, The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was just a little too cliché for a wine down and chill suggestion. Instead, I opted for something a little less dark. I selected a French movie, Un peu, beaucoup, aveuglemént.

Translated, that means “Blind Date”. It’s perfect for a wine down and chill evening because it follows the classic plot line of boy meets girl and they fall in love through all the struggles of dating.

But it all happens French style, with the added nuance, double entendre and intelligent humor one would expect from a nation that is renowned for its culture and resilience. By the way, this romcom is available on Netflix with English subtitles.

À votre santé!