Annabelle Breakey
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Rosé is as macho as claret - real men should drink it with pride

Pink is nothing but a state of mind. 

The assumption that pink has a feminine hue, that women naturally love its soft, skin-coloured permutations while men turn away in distaste, is both recent and untrue: it is merely a matter of fashion. Roman senators wore purple because the dye, from sea snails, was expensive; Louis XIV’s shoes had scarlet heels.

The notion that pink wine is for girls has everything to do with modern mores and nothing to do with gender, colour or drink. After all, if we ladies are now permitted to apply our feeble muscles to the lifting of a pint, should a gentleman hankering after a cool glass of wine be limited to white, lest outdated aspersions be cast on his masculinity?

The idea of gendered tastes
is based on the notion that men are strong, dark and decisive, while women are pallid and foolish and have a fondness for sweets. This is only marginally sillier than the idea that a given colour has a gender.

Rosé wine, sashaying across the palette from pale salmon to deep carmine, is frequently beautiful and sometimes delicious. I love the herbaceous rosés of Provence, made mainly from Grenache, Cinsault and Mourvèdre, and as gentle in colour as their native landscape is brash. I usually avoid darker rosés – dyed by longer contact with red grape skins – as too forceful. Instead, I’ll drink Cinsault-based Lebanese wine or tawny Australian by Spinifex, in the Barossa Valley.

I have tempered the feel-good sensation of sun salutations on a Moroccan yoga retreat with a local wine the colour of sunset; and soothed the pain of regular working hours, back when I still laced myself into that particular corset, with gallons of Lombardian Cà dei Frati.

Last week, I ate John Dory and celeriac purée with Pinot Noir from Albourne Estate in Sussex, a delicately savoury wine called white but glowing a lovely pink-orange.

Why not call it rosé, I asked Albourne’s owner, Alison Nightingale. Because, she said, the grapes are removed very promptly from the skins, so the colour varies according to the vintage – the 2015, which I tried, is pinker than most. Also, “We’re funny about rosé in this country: we only drink it in summer and only want the current vintage. So, as a small vineyard, we’d have to have it ready by May and all sold by August, or we’d be stuck with it.” She didn’t add that the marketing of this wine is generally limited to the 51 per cent of the population that has cerise balloons in place of brain cells, but she could have.

It’s odd to drink according to the season, particularly in Britain; still, I like the idea of a wine whose colour changes to reflect the year’s weather. The oddity is that long ago, before the technological knowledge to keep the juice of red grapes clear of the skins, most good wines would have been pink. That is why red Bordeaux is known as claret: clairet meant “clear” or “pale”, until the wines and the English adjective darkened to maroon.

Meanings change just as styles do, and surely the time has come for rosé to cast off antiquated associations. Men should indulge the sensuality and, yes, vulnerability signalled by a wine the colour of skin. As for women, I leave them with the wonderfully barbed advice of Kay Thompson’s fashion magazine editor in Funny Face, a film that also hides a great deal behind frivolous colour and seeming transparency: “Now I wouldn’t presume to tell a woman what a woman ought to think, but tell her – if she’s gotta think, think pink!” l

Next week: John Burnside on nature


Nina Caplan is the 2014 Fortnum & Mason Drink Writer of the Year and 2014 Louis Roederer International Wine Columnist of the Year for her columns on drink in the New Statesman. She tweets as @NinaCaplan.

This article first appeared in the 18 May 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Age of Lies

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Casting the Brexit movie that is definitely real and will totally happen

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our screens, or just Farage's vivid imagination.

Hollywood is planning to take on the farcical antics of Nigel Farage et al during the UK referendum, according to rumours (some suspect planted by a starstruck Brexiteer). 

Details are yet unclear as to whether The Bad Boys of Brexit will be gracing our big or small screens, a DVD, or just Farage's vivid imagination, but either way here are our picks for casting the Hollywood adaptation.

Nigel Farage: Jim Carrey

The 2018 return of Alan Partridge as "the voice of hard Brexit" makes Steve Coogan the obvious choice. Yet Carrey's portrayal of the laughable yet pure evil Count Olaf in A Series of Unfortunate Events makes him a serious contender for this role. 

Boris Johnson: Gerard Depardieu

Stick a blonde wig on him and the French acting royalty is almost the spitting image of our own European aristocrat. He has also evidently already mastered the look of pure shock necessary for the final scene of the movie - in which the Leave campaign is victorious.

Arron Banks: Ricky Gervais

Ricky Gervais not only resembles Ukip donor Arron Banks, but has a signature shifty face perfect for the scene where the other Brexiteers ask him what is the actual plan. 

Gerry Gunster: Anthony Lapaglia

The Bad Boys of Brexit will reportedly be told from the perspective of the US strategist turned Brexit referendum expert Gerry Gunster. Thanks to recurring roles in both the comedy stalwart Frasier, and the US crime drama Without a Trace, Anthony Lapaglia is versatile enough to do funny as well as serious, a perfect mix for a story that lurches from tragedy to farce. Also, they have the same cunning eyes.

Douglas Carswell: Mark Gatiss

The resemblance is uncanny.

David Cameron: Andrew Scott

Andrew Scott is widely known for his portrayal of Moriarty in Sherlock, where he indulges in elaborate, but nationally destructive strategy games. The actor also excels in a look of misplaced confidence that David Cameron wore all the way up to the referendum. Not to mention, his forehead is just as shiny. He'll have to drink a lot of Bollinger to gain that Cameron-esque puppy fat though. 

Kate Hoey: Judi Dench

Although this casting would ruin the image of the much beloved national treasure that is Judi Dench, if anyone can pull off being the face of Labour Leave, the incredible actress can.