Pairing rosé with food

rose table

We’ve all heard it at least once: “Rosé goes with anything!” Although it is true that generally speaking, summer dishes can be paired fairly easily with rosé, there are some rules to follow and some avenues worth exploring…  

First and foremost, we can agree that no rosé can really be called a “fine wine” on the same level as a great vintage of Bordeaux or Burgundy. But just as one can enjoy the fruity simplicity of a good Beaujolais, the spicy freshness of a rosé – especially a good rosé – has its occasions! In fact, even when drunk chilled by the seaside – a context that makes conventional rosé passable – it is always better to buy good bottles resulting from true know-how, rather than wines with insipid color and full of exotic or grapefruit aromas, much more the product of highly technical winemaking and aromatic yeasts than the original and natural taste of grapes.

Unlike red and white wines, appellations and vintages aren’t as important with rosé. The main focus is on the style of wine that the winemaker wanted to make: a delicate rosé made from direct pressing, which usually has a pale color, or a more vinous rosé, often made with the “saignée” process (the process of removing some juice from a vat of red wine after a day or so). Anyway, if you do not know the different methods of making rosé available, rely on its color: usually the palest are the lightest and the darkest more vinous.

Some delicate rosés generally pair perfectly with an aperitif of tapenade, prawns, toast with fresh goat cheese… They can also be served with light appetizers like a tomato salad or even with some grilled fish (but not with strong tasting ones such as sardines), if you want to avoid mixing alcohol by switching from a rosé to a white wine during the same meal. Even if they lack the structure and body to accompany meats (even simple grilled ones), they are still perfect to be served with cheeses such as fresh goat’s or sheep’s cheese. Château de Léoube, Domaine de Rimauresq, Château de Roquefort and almost all rosé côte-de-provence fit into this category.

On the other hand, rosé de saignée usually have more structure and power, and would be perfect paired with a traditional summer meal. For example, grilled meats and barbecued sausages (beef is still not recommended, as it’s much more enjoyable with red wines), all grilled and baked fish or even slightly spiced salads. They can also pair well with four of the great classics of Provencal cuisine: Ratatouille (especially when served cool); fish soup; aioli sauce and bourride or even couscous! These include some Roussillon rosés such as Domaine des Clos de Fées or Domaine de la Rectorie in Collioure.

More vinous rosés, such as those of Tavel or single-varietal Tiburen rosés from Provence (like those of Clos Cibonne), or from another typical Nice grape variety such as Braquet from Château de Bellet, will probably go well with flavourful fish such as red mullet or even roast lamb. This variety also goes well with other cuisines of the world, such as pizzas, pasta with bolognese sauce or even lightly spicy Asian cuisine.

Finally: the rosés of Bandol. Bandol is characterized by its significant proportion of Mourvèdre, a grape very rarely used for rosés produced elsewhere than in this appellation. This grape lends the wines good aging potential. We thoroughly recommend you try a rosé after three or four years of aging.

Possible food pairings with Bandol rosé can be summarized by the intensity of a wine’s colour. Paler wines usually contain more Grenache and Cinsault, with less Mourvèdre. Their paleness is also accentuated by direct pressing vinification that produces lighter wines. These are suitable for “serious” aperitif with seafood, spicy meats or even Lebanese dishes. They also pair well with a classic summer lunch of mixed salads and grilled fishes.

More deeply-coloured Bandol rosés match very well with a summer meal of meat (except beef – even if a grilled piece of beef with a very vinous rosé can still be a good pairing). Last but not least, other grilled meats, such as lamb leg or shoulder, are also good pairings. Not to mention couscous and meat or fish tajines.

Why not try your hand at food pairing? Click here to see our selection of rosés currently for sale.

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