The Best Rose Wine and Food Pairings

The Best Rose Wine and Food Pairings

by JJ Buckley Fine Wines


Glasses of rose wine on a dinner table

When deciding which bottle of wine to serve with our meals, we usually look to the season first. While red wines warm you through the winter and white wines cool you down on a hot summer day, rose wine (also written as rosé wine) is the perfect choice for anything in between. It is the ideal beverage to celebrate the end of winter, enjoy the long days of summer, and then welcome the beginning of autumn.

And while rose wine pairs with spring and summer flavors, it can easily be enjoyed all-year round. Although it may be a new frontier for you, people have been enjoyed rose and food together for decades. Rose wine food pairing is easier thank you may think.

Characteristics of Rose Wine

Rose wine has a reputation of being overly sweet. Luckily, however, that perspective has changed since the beginning of the 21st century. Just like red and white wines, roses have a varying range of flavor profiles. They can be light and crisp like a Pinot Grigio, or full-bodied like a Cabernet.

There are two ways to make rose wine. Like red wine, roses are made in contact with grape skins, but the skins are only part of the process for a brief moment.The first method is called Saignée, which means to bleed in French. Winemakers will simply remove some of the juice early from their red wine production and bottle it as a rose.

Alternatively, winemakers will directly press a rose wine from the start. After a day or two, the winemaker will remove the grape skins from the juice and continue fermenting. This gives the winemaker more control over the color and flavor of the wine.

No matter the process, the diverse options within the rose family allows enthusiasts to serve them with nearly any meal. Plus, its natural range can appeal to most palettes. People often claim to prefer red or white, but rose can easily please everyone at your dinner party.

Best Rose Food Pairing Options

Knowing how to pair food and rose starts with knowing the various grapes and regions. While some roses tend to have fruitier profiles, many types can be paired with savory dishes as well. In fact, you could create an entire dinner menu based on rose wine food pairings. 

Appetizers

Before sitting down for a meal, you may greet your guests with a charcuterie board. If you have a spread that includes a creamy, tangy goat cheese with fruit jams, a dry rose will complement the acidic characteristics. Combinations of meat and produce, such as prosciutto with asparagus or melon will also pair well with a dry rose made from Pinot Noir grapes.

If you prefer rinded cheeses like brie or camembert, you will want to serve your guests a medium bodied rose with fruitier notes. A charcuterie board with fatty meats like pâté or thinly sliced iberico jamon will pair perfectly with a medium bodied dry wine, like a Spanish rosado.

A sparkling rose is another great choice to welcome guests. It’s fun and celebratory, but its acidity and bubbles also work well with fatty charcuterie and rich cheeses. 

When in doubt, a rose from Provence will always be a fitting choice. Their Grenache grape variety tends to produce crisp and dry wine, which partners well with a huge variety of flavors.

First course

A niçoise salad is a popular dish to pair with rose wine, and for good reason. The combination of fresh, rustic flavors found at a summer market in southern France perfectly complements Provencal roses. On hot afternoons and evenings, this salad can even be served as a main dish.

Whether you roast your vegetables or serve them raw, a light, dry rose will be an enjoyable pairing. If you add a rich sauce or strong seasonings, we recommend a Spanish rosado or other medium bodied rose to meet the robust flavors.

Main course

While you may be tempted to serve red wine with a decadent cut of meat or white wine with seafood, consider pairing your dish with a robust, fruity rose. A bottle from France's Palette or Bandol regions will be a unique experience served with tuna, salmon, or even duck. A rose made from Merlot grapes will also pair well with elegant meats like lamb and lobster.

As always, a light, dry Provencal rose will go well with nearly any dish, seafood in particular. But if your menu consists of shellfish or a glutenous dish such as pasta or rice, a full-bodied rose may complement your main course even better. 

Moroccan, Thai, and Indian seasonings will also pair well with these fruitier options, or even an Italian rose from Sangiovese. Whereas a red wine might compete with these flavors on your palate, a rose will work in harmony with the intricate spices and aromas.

If you host a BBQ, a full-bodied rose like a Syrah or Cabernet will hold up to the bold flavors from your grill. No better way to celebrate sunshine than a burger from the grill and a chilled glass of hearty rose!

Dessert

If you do not serve cheese as an appetizer, a dessert cheese course may be a perfect way to round out your rose wine food pairing evening.

End the meal on a bubbly note with a sparkling rose from New Zealand or a cava rosado from Spain. Enjoy a glass by itself, or pair it with chocolate, almonds, or fresh berries. As many rose wines have notes of strawberry and citrus, it would be only natural to end with a fruity dessert.

Peaches are also considered a best food with rose, and will work beautifully with bottles ranging from dry to sweet from all regions. Whether you choose a full-bodied rose from Chile or California, you and your guests will not be disappointed.

Santé with Rose

Treat yourself to a new dining experience with these rose wine food pairings. If you need more tailored advice for your meal or palate preferences, we will be happy to advise you.