Rose Wine and Food Pairing

Ingredients and Styles

Rosé wines are above all, the wine of summer -- the wines we yearn for to slake our thirst and revive our palates as the days lengthen and temperatures start to rise. But increasingly, many of us are starting to enjoy rosé wines all year round, and that’s wonderful, since these wines are quite friendly at table! Time-honored appreciation shows that rosé is great with garlicky and salty foods, such as hummus, brandade, charcuterie or olives. But a fruit-forward rosé is also an ideal match for heat -- not just summer’s heat, but food’s heat as well. Rosés from the New World tend to be riper and sweeter than their European counterparts -- an advantage when it comes to spicy food. Be it Asian (Thai, Indian, Malay, Sichuan), Latin (Mexican, Peruvian, Tex-Mex) or otherwise (Southern Italian, North African, Jamaican), rosé wines with a kiss of sweetness can be candidates for seamless pairings. 

As a rule, lighter-style rosés tend to pair better with more delicate food, such raw salads, simple shellfish, or white meat. Pinot Noir-based vin gris, among the lightest and most delicate of rosé wines, pair nicely with quiche, pissaladière, and other savory tarts. However, fuller-bodied rosés, with deeper flavor, generosity of fruit and more structure, are more likely to stand up to grilled  or roasted poultry and more robust preparations.

Sparkling rosés should follow the general template for matching food with sparkling wines (hyperlink to the Sparkling Wine guide/ food pairing). 

Finally, think of rosé when it comes to simple, casual and informal comfort foods, such as hamburgers and pizza, dim sum, fish and chips, or grilled sausages.  

All styles Garlic
Salt
Olives
Cuisines + Cooking methods
All styles Garlic
Salt
Olives
Hummus, brandade, charcuterie
Simple, informal foods, such as hamburgers and pizza, dim sum, fish and chips, or grilled sausages
Lighter, dry, more Old World style (e.g. Pinot Noir-based vin gris) Lettuce
Tomatoes (raw)
Shellfish
White meat
Caprese salad: sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil
Delicate food and dishes, such salads, raw shellfish, or white meat simply prepared, such as plain, cooked chicken for a picnic.
Quiche, pissaladière, and other savory tarts.
Lighter, off-dry style (Old World) Melon, berries
Prosciutto, charcuterie
Mushrooms
Seafood
Tinned fish/shellfish (think Spanish conservas)
Soft cheeses
Prosciutto and melon
Lighter pasta and rice dishes, e.g. pasta primavera, with spring/summer vegetables, shrimp or clams, or with pancetta and fresh herbs
Raw proteins — sashimi to fish crudo (especially salmon), carpaccio or steak tartare (tipped with pomegranate seeds)
A cheese board of young goat cheese, ripe but not overripe edible rind cheeses like Brie, Camembert or Livarot, and mild semi-soft cheeses like fontina
Fruit-forward, young, sweeter style (New World) Peppers, chilies
Coconut
Ginger
Lightly sweet condiments
Spicier Latin, Caribbean and Asian dishes, such as a piquant snapper Veracruz, Thai yellow curry, or Chicken Tikka Masala.
Chinese dim sum
Fuller-bodied with possibly some age (deeper flavor, more fruit, more structure) Poultry
Cheese
Tomatoes (cooked)
More robust preparations in general.
Grilled or roasted poultry, such as chicken satays,
Dishes using grilled or fried cheeses such as halloumi or provoleta/provolone. Grilled cheese sandwich.
Pastas with tomato-based sauces
Sparkling rosés Follow the general template for matching food with sparkling wines

Great ingredient matches include tomatoes (rosés can handle umami and match well vis-à-vis acidity levels). A lighter, dry rosé enjoyed with sliced tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil…Yum!  Prosciutto and melon with an off-dry rosé is sublime. Also consider lighter pasta and rice dishes, e.g. pasta primavera, with spring/summer vegetables, shrimp or clams, or with pancetta and fresh herbs. Raw proteins are also terrific — from sashimi to fish crudo (especially salmon), carpaccio or steak tartare (tipped with pomegranate seeds). Other thrilling pairings include grilled vegetables, grilled chicken satays, grilled halloumi (Greece) or provolone (Argentina).

Pairing Pointers

Rosé wines work well: 

  • On a pairing menu in lieu of light reds (a sommelier go-to/secret!)
  • With raw fish-sushi, sashimi, crudo, quality tinned fish/shellfish (think Spanish conservas
  • As a counterpoint to spicier Latin and Asian dishes, such as a piquant snapper Veracruz, Thai yellow curry, or Chicken Tikka Masala. Fruit-driven styles pair best here.
  • As a companion to many soft cheeses, especially young goat cheese, ripe but not overripe edible rind cheeses like Brie, Camembert or Livarot, and mild semi-soft cheeses like fontina. 
  • Tomato dishes: think insalata caprese (tomatoes and mozzarella) and pastas with tomato-based sauces
  • With savory tarts and pastries -- quiche, onion tart, Provençale pissaladière, Greek spanakopita, and South American empanadas.
  • In tandem with dishes that imply sweetness or have lightly sweet condiments or treatments. Here, younger, more fruit-forward styles work best. 
  • With Chinese dim sum -- arguably the best wine pairing, with such a wide array of flavors and textures
  • With just about anything! Dry rosé is a red wine in white-wine clothing! There is a rosé for almost any pairing.

Rosé wine does not work well with: 

  • Extremes: Dishes that are too rich. spicy or flavorful can and will overwhelm the wine. 
  • Dishes that are too sweet (unless paired with sweeter styles of wine). Finding the balance is key. Match the sweetness of the wine with the sweetness of the food. Fresh black or red berries, for example, that are sweet but not too sweet, served with plain Greek-styled yogurt can be lovely with off-dry rosé.
  • Dishes served with heavy and rich cream or butter-based sauces. They can beat up on more delicate wines.
  • Robust red meats. Some chefs pair rosé styles with these foods, but they are not always complementary.