Rosé wines are more than their pretty pink colour; in fact, they have come a long way in the last decade or so. No longer scorned as sugary-sweet, bottom-shelf guzzlers, the roots and versatility of rosé wines have earned them a place in the sun – and the spotlight. 

Many southern Mediterranean dishes actually evolved alongside rosé, and global cuisine finds a perfect pairing with these wines anywhere on the spectrum, from still to sparkling, and bone-dry to semi-sweet. Indeed, the sheer variety of today’s rosé offerings make drinking pink a sophisticated gourmet exercise. 

Salade Niçoise

Bone-dry, pale salmon-coloured Côtes de Provence rosé, with its whisper of strawberry tops, sea salt and tarragon, finds its match in a regional pairing: the infamous (and healthy) salade niçoise.

The wine itself is like a breath of fresh sea air, so you’ll want to avoid massacring it with complex flavours or heavy sauces. A niçoise salad is the perfect companion, a crunchy melange of greens, string beans, grape tomatoes, capers and olives, with either canned or freshly broiled tuna on top, and a searing anchovy here and there for a savoury kick. Cubed potatoes and a boiled egg make it a well-rounded meal. The wine is so clean and fresh, it really lets the salad speak for itself. The long mineral finish draws out the distinctively Provençal flavours of marinated olives, capers and anchovies, but otherwise doesn’t get in the way. In turn, the salty elements of the salad accentuate the pretty fruit in the wine.

[Photo: cyclonebill/Flickr]

Kansas City BBQ Burnt Ends

Your first instinct might be to pair sweet, smoky barbecue with an equally smoky red wine. You’re not wrong – even better if it’s chilled. But a boldly coloured rose with luscious, yet structured body and more of a savoury profile – like Tavel, for example (Côtes du Rhône) – is an ideal counterpoint to chewy burnt ends or even barbecued chicken. Start with a dry rub and then marinate in your favourite Kansas City-style sauce overnight before grilling or baking for the perfect tangy glaze.

Shrimp Cocktail

A perennial favourite of the cocktail hour set, this dish has been unjustly relegated to grandparents’ bridge clubs or the hallowed halls of stodgy country clubs for far too long. The delicate flavour of fresh and supple steamed shrimp, spritzed in lemon and topped off with the sweet sting of homemade cocktail sauce, is an undeniable taste and textural sensation worthy of the right wine.

A Tavel – or other deeply coloured, plump, fruity or savoury dry rosé, like an Italian Rosato from Puglia – is a worthy companion with a sea-salty mineral finish to really bring out that first fresh pop of the shrimp.

Lamb Meatballs

Lamb and Syrah are a match made in heaven. Rosés based on Syrah (or Shiraz), especially hot and sunny California or Australian ones, bring the same heat and a hearty dose of fruit to temper the gaminess of lamb while complimenting Moroccan or Turkish spice blends that include cumin, cinnamon, allspice and black pepper. The addition of parsley and fresh mint really pops with the right wine pairing. If you’re intent on serving rosé – or any wine for that matter – with this dish, go easy on the yogurt sauce; the recipe was originally intended to be served with tea, a yogurt-based ayran, or an Ottoman sherbet made from fruit juice, rather than wine.

Manhattan Clam Chowder

Another great pairing for rose wines in the darker and fleshier category is Manhattan clam chowder. Unlike the cream-based, New-England-style soup, Manhattan clam chowder is lighter and tomato-based, ideal for a summer meal. While the soup itself may feel lighter, it’s steeped in aromatic herbs like bay leaf and thyme, and packs a bacon-y punch. The right rosé is just dry enough for a nice, clean balance, with a mouth-watering finish to make all of those flavours in your soup really sing.


In a similar vein that may hold to the key to Manhattan’s clam chowder recipe, this traditional Portuguese soup uses fish or shellfish in a tomato and vegetable base, plus a healthy amount of nutty, earthy saffron and piquant paprika. Combine two different types of seafood for added depth of flavour, and pair with a light- to medium-bodied fruit-forward Portuguese rosé for a transportive experience.


Continuing down the long line of rich, savoury and satisfying fish soups and stews, nothing says rosé like a heaping plate of bouillabaisse. Born in Marseille, bouillabaisse encapsulates the history of Provençal cuisine with its rich fishbone broth and quintessential Provençal herb blend of thyme, bay leaf and even lavender and citrus zest. It traditionally combines at least three different types of seafood – including whole fish portioned into fillets, along with crustaceans and octopus or squid – and is served with a slice of toasted baguette slathered in rouille, a saffron- and garlic-scented mayonnaise similar to aioli.

[Photo: NwongPR/Flickr]

Spaghetti alla Pescatora

A staple of seaside trattorias, spaghetti alla pescatora – “the fisherman’s wife’s spaghetti” – is also known simply as la pescatore (the fisherman). The sauce works well on risotto, too, but pasta sits lighter on a summer. day. The southern Italian dish brings together scampi, calamari, clams and mussels, each sautéed with garlic, red pepper and a splash of white wine. It’s finished with a smattering of plum tomatoes and pop of parsley. It’s quite simple to prepare, but the freshness of the ingredients is key.

Pepperoni Pizza

Take buttery, cheese-topped pizza crust with its fiery pop of pepperoni (aka American-style spicy salami) to another dimension alongside a sparkling rosé like Cava or Crémant. Even Champagne if you’re feeling fancy. The fizz works just like beer does to slice through greasy toppings while revealing their true flavour hearts. The bright acidity and mouth-watering mineral finish of classic-method sparkling wines work as both a palate-cleanser and a flavour-elevator. Guilty pleasure has never been so gourmet.

Strawberry Cheesecake

Having dessert? Aim for a slightly sweeter, if bright and clean rosé when you serve up strawberry (or raspberry) cheesecake. Dense and creamy, with a nutty graham cracker crust, even the most subtle fruit notes and flavours of rosé wines find a comfy cushion alongside a slice of cheesecake. Experiment with other combinations of fruit toppings and different styles of rosé until you find your favourite coupling. A balance of sweetness and acidity is essential. Too much of either might overwhelm your palate. Try a ricotta-based recipe for a little less sugar.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

Related Articles