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Red Grapes in a Vineyard, Niederweiler Germany (c)2012

I’ve got creative ideas for enjoying Rosé wine during the warm days of late spring:

1.  Rosé Steamed Mussels

Dry rosé, with its mineral character and hint of fruit, is the base of a spicy broth infused with the briny flavor of mussels in this recipe from Food & Wine. It’s a simple dish and quick from stove to table, as the mussels need only sauté in garlic, shallots, red pepper flakes, and rosé for about 5 minutes before they spring open and are ready to eat. A pat of butter enriches the broth and parsley leaves sprinkled over at the last minute add fresh, herbal flavor.

2.  An Aperitif with a Salty Snack

Rosé was made for aperitif, the endearing French habit of enjoying a drink and a little snack to stimulate the appetite for supper. In the charming book, Aperitif, Georgeanne Brennan writes, “A rosé made in the French style, dry and let, yet full of body and substance, is a most alluring aperitif.” She suggests pairing chilled rosé with “the indigenous flavors of Provençe terroir” -an assortment of olives, roasted garlic, anchovies, charcuterie, or tiny sautéed clams. Just remember, aperitif is supposed to stimulate the appetite, not satiate it.

3.  Rosé Pan Sauce for Chicken, Pork, or Veal Cutlets

For weeknight suppers, I often turn to sautéed cutlets (pieces of meat pounded thin that can be seared in the pan and cooked in just a few minutes). It goes like this: heat butter with a splash of vegetable oil in a sauté pan, add the cutlets (chicken, pork, or veal) and cook until golden brown and caramelized on both sides. Remove the cutlets from the pan and toss in diced shallot for a moment before deglazing the pan with wine, scraping up the brown bits to flavor the sauce. Return the seared cutlets to the pan and simmer with flavorings like fresh herbs (tarragon, thyme, parsley) and something zippy such as olives or capers. Enrich the pan sauce with a pat of butter and serve the cutlets over rice or potatoes. It’s fun to change things up during springtime by using dry rosé instead of the usual white wine. Rosé adds a hint of exotic spice and soft red fruits that are welcome flavors in chicken, pork, or veal dishes.

4.  Rosato and Spicy Foods

In the May issue of Food & Wine Magazine, I came across the sentiment that, “Chiles are tricky with wine, but rosé is almost always a good choice.” The bible on Italian wine, Vino Italiano, reinforces this point by highlighting the Abruzzo region, where peperoncini (chili peppers) are a mainstay of the local cuisine and the rosato “not only cools the heat down but points up the peperoncino flavor with a little spiciness of its own.” In the Abruzzo area, rosato made from the Montepulciano grape is known as Cerasuolo, and Joseph Bastianich suggests serving it with the famous Maccheroni alla Chitarra (pasta “guitar style” named for the method of cutting the sheets of pasta with steel wires). Serve it like the locals with a spicy tomato sauce infused with hot chile peppers. Another Abruzzo dish that’s delicious with Italian rosato is Polpi in Purgatorio, or “Octopus in Purgatory,” a stew infused with the spice of red pepper. In this recipe for Octopus Stew by Emeril Lagasse, chorizo sausage and crushed red pepper add heat to the octopus which is cooked in the flavorful tomato broth for a couple of hours, until tender.

5.  Rosé Sorbet

Rosé wine comes in many different shades of red, from the slightest blush to full blown garnet, and the idea for Rosé Wine Sorbet from Martha Stewart Weddings cleverly takes advantage of this trait. Different hues of rosé will yield different shades of red in the sorbet, and Martha recommends making several batches for the visual effect. The sorbet couldn’t be easier, starting with a simple syrup of water, sugar, and cinnamon stick which is stirred into the rosé wine and transferred to an ice cream maker. It would be great fun for a garden party on one of those unexpectedly warm days of spring.

6.  Terroir and the Pairing of Wine with Cheese

I never tire of flipping through my tattered copy of The Taste of France. The 25th Anniversary Edition I own was published in 1983, and Robert Freson’s photographs are just as inspiring today. The book is a journey, and I’m delivered to Sologne with the words, “If you travel about seventy-five miles south from Paris, you can enter the province of Sologne by crossing the Loire at Orléans.” This small region is home of Olivet, a cheese producer who makes Cendré, a springtime ash-covered creamy cow’s milk cheese that The Taste of France suggests is a fitting pairing for the fragrant rosé wines of the area. The crisp dry acidity, hint of fruit, and floral aromas of French rosé are delicate enough to pair with cheese while complimenting its complexity of pungent, nutty, and creamy flavors. Take some inspiration from this practice and look for a cheese produced in the same region of your favorite rosé wine, or look for an ash-covered cheese (cow or goat’s milk) available in your area.

7.  Rosé is a Good Friend of Fried Seafood

It must be that middle ground of white wine acidity and red wine fruit that makes rosé a good partner to fried foods, especially Fritto Misto (or a mix of fried seafood).  If you’ve never fried at home, it’s time to start. Once you give it a try you’ll see that it’s easy and so much tastier than ordering calamari at a restaurant. Check out this post where I made a mixed seafood fry-up of oysters, squid, scallops, and lemon slices. My mouth is watering just writing about it! Quickly fry the seafood, then enjoy it al fresco, on your patio, with a light and fruity bottle of rosé.

8.  Rosé is Perfect for Pique-Nique

In the beautifully styled French General Handmade Soirées book, Kaari Meng gives a lesson on the art of the picnic. Spring-time invites us to pull out the picnic basket and head outside for lunch or supper. A big blanket, sunscreen, and a bottle of rosé are a good start. Grain salads like this Warm Farro Salad with Braised Radishes are more flavorful at room temperature, and pair nicely with a vibrant, bright red, fruity rosado from Spain. A quiche or frittata travels well for a picnic. For dessert, a fresh berries and elegant Madeleine cookies are a good finish.

9.  Seafood Poached in Pink Wine

This elegant hors d’oeuvres recipe for Rosé Poached Shrimp with Cucumber of from Martha Stewart Weddings is cooking technique that could be applied for the main entrée with delicious results. In their recipe, shrimp are poached in a mixture of pink wine, water, and lemon for just a couple of minutes, until cooked through. Thinly sliced cucumber strips are seasoned with salt and red pepper flakes, then wrapped around the shrimp and kept and served for a tasty bite. Any sweet and delicate seafood (think lobster, scallops, or squid) could be poached or simply sautéed in rosé, then served over a fragrant basmati rice with mint or chive blossoms.

10.  Rosé is Buff Enough for Beef

In her book, At Home in Provençe, Patricia Wells pairs a Tavel rosé with Herb Cured Filet of Beef Carpaccio. Tavel, situated in the Rhone, is the only AOC wine region in France dedicated solely to the production of rosé. The wines are made from grape blends dominated by Grenache, representing a more fruity and deeply pigmented style than that of Provençe. Patricia infuses her fillet of beef with the flavor of fresh herbs: tarragon, parsley, basil, and thyme by coating the beef with their leaves and bit of salt, then leaving the beef (wrapped in foil) in the fridge for 48 hours. Two hours prior to serving, the beef goes into the fridge to make the carpaccio easier to slice. She serves the beef thinly sliced on a chilled plate with olive oil and a generous sprinkling of coarse ground black pepper. I’m a big fan of Laura Calder’s French cooking, and her recipe for Basil Beef is a similar preparation that cooks the beef rare if a straight-up carpaccio is a little freaky for you. Arugula and Parmesan are good accompaniments to beef carpaccio– and don’t forget that glass of rosé!

Do you have a favorite recipe for cooking with rosé or food and rosé wine pairing? Share it in the comments section.
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