Hooray for Rosé

I know, I know. Some of you, just reading the title of this post, are saying to yourselves some version of, “Oh no – not rosé!” You have an idea of it being too sweet, too soda pop-y, too much like, maybe, Hawaiian Punch.

I understand.

Rosés have been too sweet, too soda pop-y, and too much like Hawaiian Punch. (Although I totally confess to loving those sweet, typically inexpensive rosés mixed with ginger ale – it’s my favorite poolside punch!) But the dominance of too-sweet rosé is changing. Increasingly, drier styles are showing up on the shelves of supermarkets and wine shops. And these are delicious wines. Wines of quality and finesse. Wines that are worth knowing and enjoying

Why? Because rosé is like no other wine, uniquely combining mild red wine fruit flavors – think strawberry, cherry, cranberry, and currant – with the best-served-cold lightness and brightness of a white wine. With rosé, you get the best of both worlds. Win-win!

Which means, yes, rosé is a great choice for when you can’t decide between red and white, as is often the case with me. But even better, this not-quite-a-red-not-quite-a-white quality makes rosé uniquely positioned to pair with foods that also fall somewhere in between.

Take, for example, the Tilapia with Gazpacho Salsa pictured in this post. (The recipe will be in my second “100 Perfect Pairings” book, the one focusing on entrée recipes that’s due out next spring. Meanwhile, take a peek at “100 Perfect Pairings: Small Plates to Enjoy with Wines You Love” which came out in April.) This dish features a relatively light fish with a gazpacho-inspired salsa – the salsa has tomato, bell pepper, onion, olives, garlic, smoked paprika, and a few other goodies. All in all, it’s not quite intense or heavy enough for a red wine – although it’s on the verge of working with a Pinot Noir, especially if the fish were, say, sea bass or swordfish, something with a little more heft. But with all those flavors in the salsa, especially the smoked paprika, it’s a little too intense for a white.

The solution? You guessed it – somewhere-in-between rosé.

For similar reasons, rosé works with most Mexican food. It works with barbecue and grilled dishes. It works with much of the simply-prepared, Mediterranean-inspired foods that have increasingly become American cuisine.

One of my recipe testers last fall chose to test recipes to go with rosé, and her husband was aghast. She pressed on, made the recipes, and presented them at the table, along with the wine. Suffice to say that he became a convert and no longer pooh-poohs her willingness to recipe test.

Hooray for rosé!

There’s no better time than summer to try it. But like me, you might find yourself drinking it year round.

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