Food trends come and go, but rosé, which has been on the upswing for a few years now, seems here to stay. And yet, most of us think of the beverage as strictly a summer drink, to be sipped at picnics or dinner parties, and put away when fall comes around. But rosé is actually a very versatile wine, and you’d do well to keep pouring it even as the weather gets colder.
“When it comes down to pure structural elements, rosé can be one of, if not the most, food friendly and versatile styles of wine out there,” Mattie Jackson, certified sommelier at SALT & VINE in Nashville, tells Brit + Co.
Its cheerful color actually has nothing to do with the level of sweetness. “Rosé gets its marvelous pink hues from the skin contact of red grapes during the maceration process,” Coly Den Haan, restaurateur and certified sommelier, explains, noting that it isn’t necessarily sweeter than its white or red counterparts. In fact, some rosés can be quite dry. But it’s the variety found within rosé that makes it so effortless to incorporate it into your cold-weather routine.
What to Look For in a Winter Rosé
Shopping for rosé isn’t that complicated in the summer — most of us just look for a pretty pink hue and a nice label. When you’re drinking your wine ice-cold, your palate tends to be a lot more forgiving of any flaws. But pairing rosé with winter dishes is a little trickier. There are three things you should keep an eye out for when looking for winter rosés: place of origin, grape varietal, and color.
“In the case of winter eats, you’re going to want to seek out rosés with more skin contact that will result in a darker, almost ruby color. These rosés tend to have more body, a livelier personality, and a dryer mouthfeel that can stand up to heartier dishes,” Den Hann explains.
Look for wines from specific regions to get a clue as to whether they’ll be appropriate for pairing with heavier winter foods. “For winter weather and richer dishes, seek out rosés from warmer climates (i.e. Tavel, Italy, some west coast) or those made from bolder red grape varieties (Syrah, Sangiovese, Bordeaux varieties). The weight and fuller texture will prove more compatible than the lighter, delicate Provencal styles we love in June & July,” Jackson tells Brit + Co.
Pairing Rosé with Winter Foods
Most of us know when to break out a bottle of red or white, but pairing rosé with winter foods is totally new territory for a lot of us. Luckily, both Jackson and Den Hann have experience making these pairings.
Lamb and Tavel: “[Tavel] stands as one of the most unique and intentionally powerful styles of rosé out there. A dense, almost fuchsia color, the wine is made for juicy braised lamb. The textures harmonize perfectly and the slightly sweet flavor you find in lamb works beautifully with the bold, ripe, southern French rosé,” says Jackson.
Pork and dark rosé: “The acidity in the rosé can cut through the delicate fattiness of roasted pork without competing or overpowering like a red could do,” explains Den Hann.
Chilis and stews and rosé: “Darker rosé is also known to love anything smothered in BBQ sauce, but since we are talking winter, with summer grilling behind us, hardy chilis and stews with similar sweet heat and tangy profiles are the perfect complement,” recommends Den Hann.
Veggies and tomato stews with Sangiovese rosé: “A tangy rosé of Sangiovese (likely from Tuscany or other parts of Italy) shows very strongly with charred vegetables or tomato-based stews,” says Jackson.
Cooking with Rosé
Just as you might keep a bottle of red or white on hand for cooking, you can do the same thing with rosé. “I find it is wonderful doused over a roasted chicken with lemon and sage or a simple rosé poached shrimp over a pasta or salad dish. Any marinade or dressing you would use a white wine in, you can swap a rosé out for an added depth of flavor and hint of color,” says Den Hann.
Jackson has a go-to rosé recipe she uses at SALT & VINE. “For me, rosé’s best role in the kitchen (besides being in my glass while I cook) is as a primary component for a vinaigrette,” she says. “At SALT & VINE, we love to toss some charred veggies in a rosé vinaigrette and plate it up with a creamy round of burrata.” Um, drooling!
What Not to Do
Rosé is know for its versatility, but there’s one thing you shouldn’t pair rosé with. “As with Champagne and sparkling wine, be wary of pairing rosé with dessert if drinking a dry style,” warns Jackson. “Even though it smells like juicy strawberry shortcake, if the wine doesn’t have residual sugar (i.e. is a technically dry wine), it will taste bitter alongside any dishes with significantly sweet flavor.”
Now that you’re armed with knowledge, why not stock up on some big, dry rosés before your next fall or winter dinner party? And when your know-it-all friend tries to tell you that rosé is just for the summer, you can give them a lesson on why it’s actually the perfect wine to pair with your favorite hearty comfort foods.
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(Photo via Matthieu Joannon/Unsplash)