2 oz Pours: Rosé After Labor Day


It’s easy to love rosé in the summertime and I know summer has drawn to a close. We're now well past Labor Day, but I’m definitely not one of those to put away the pinks after the summer is over –– and it’s actually still quite warm out in California anyway! In any case, rosés are just too useful for pairing purposes to be benched the entire rest of the year.

Rosés fit into a space where they’re able to pair with lots of different dishes that are otherwise tricky to work with precisely because they straddle the color lines of wine – much like orange wines and light reds. My experiment with Côtes du Rhônes of different colors that I shared last week was a great reminder that pinks are a great bet when you don’t know what to pair with a dish.

Today, I thought I’d share a broad round-up of rosés, along with some of these situations where they often come to the rescuce, and a look at why they work. In looking through pictures, I’ve found that there are a few broad categories where I tend to reach for rosés again and again, and they’re categories of food that we tend to eat all year round.

Note: Some wines in this post were provided as media samples. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own. 


Light Meats

Chicken, pork, and other meats and poultry that are on the lighter end of the spectrum can work with a broad range of toppings and sauces. Light and bright preparations can be overpowered by, or even downright clash with big reds. It’s actually a better bet to pair to the sauce or toppings where these lighter meats are involved. Rosés, however, pretty much take the guesswork out of the pairing, because they’re likely to work solidly well regardless of the topping – they typically have the freshness to work with even a lemony dish, but can also often stand up to a more intense preparation, particularly if you pick a style with a little more structure. 

This Arnot-Roberts Touriga Nacional Rosé 2018 (Avg price $29) a fun, New World take on a Portuguese grape. It had notes of orange blossoms, a mix of citrus, peaches, cherries, and tart strawberries, with light herbal notes. It's light on it's feet and had plenty of freshness, but had a little tannic grip on the finish. We had with fried chicken take-out and I thought it worked really well with the chicken itself as well as with the savory sides. Admittedly, it didn't work as well with sweeter sides like yams. 

This Tenuta di Fessina Erse Etna Rosato 2018 (sample) is great choice for richer chicken and light meat dishes because it's a bit fuller and more structured than other rosés. It has notes of juicy cherries, accompanied by orange zest and herbs, and definitely has a little tannin. It worked really well with a spread of chicken, rich collard greens, and cornbread. I particularly liked it with the collard greens with their mix of vegetal and smoky, meat notes.

Sausages are regular weeknight go-to's around here, and they definitely fall into this middle-weight meat camp, particularly chicken sausages. I also often pair them with vegetables of different kinds and rosé works easily with lots of veggies as well. Here are three cases: Chateau de Berne Cotes de Provence Inspiration 2018 (sample, avg. price $20) worked beautifully with a sausage dish alongside kale, tomatoes, and lentils; Côte West Mounts Vineyard Rosé of Counoise 2018 ($25) had bright notes of tangerines, pink grapefruit, peaches and strawberries and worked nicely with chicken sausage and braised cabbage with cornbread croutons; Domaine du Pegau Pink Pegau Rosé 2016 is a bit of a richer style of French rosé and paired up nicely with a creamy sausage casserole. 

Hearty Seafood Dishes

The rule of thumb dictates the white wines are the go-to’s when seafod is involved, since the tannins in red wines tend to clash with the proteins and oils in seafood, even while the work magically with those in meats.  This isn’t a hard and fast rule, and there are definitely lots of reds that can work quite well with certain seafood dishes. However, if you’re not sure which ones are likely to work, but you have a seafood dish that seems to be begging for something a little deeper than a light white, once again rosé is a good bet.

Three delicious seafood and rosé pairings from three local wineries: Lusu Cellars Single Leaf Cellars El Dorado Rosé 2016 with a citrus roasted salmon and Brussels sprouts with bacon; another rosé from Côte West (they make three) this one of Zinfandel ($22) with BBQ seasoned salmon with broccoli; Vinca Minor Carignan Rosé Redwood Valley 2019 ($25, sample) with sheet pan shrimp with roasted peppers and onions (although you can't see them clearly).

Light Pasta, Pizzas, and Quiche

Pasta and pizzas that have lighter toppings are in a similar boat to the situations described above. The carbs give them some richness, but the toppings might not have the heft to stand up to a bigger red wine. Pinks are once again an easy choice. 

Rosés from Provence tend to be light, crisp, minerally, with light floral notes. I think they tend to go well with pasta dishes that are veggie-driven and that have lots of savory herbal notes, like this Chateau de Berne Cotes de Provence Emotion Rosé 2017 (sample, avg. price $17) which was paired with fusilli with mixed summer squash and Parmesan.

This Tablas Creek Vineyards Patelin de Tablas Rosé 2018  (sample, avg. price $23) is made here in California, but very much with French sensibility. California's sunshine leads to riper fruit. The result here is that while the wine is made with the French style in mind, it's a little rounder than the version from Provence above. It made a delicious match for a richer chicken ragu on black bean pasta with lots of herbs.

Just for fun, I'll share this Instagram story I shared a while back with emoji tasting notes.

We also often have spaghetti squash around here in place of pasta, but similar ideas apply. The Commanderie de la Bargemone Coteaux d'Aix-en-Provence Rosé 2017 (avg. price $18) was lovely with the spaghetti squash topped with chicken, kale, herbs, and Parmesan, while a bottle of Birichino Vin Gris Rosé 2019  (avg. price $18) from here in California, with notes of stone fruits, sweet cherries, guava, lots of flowers, and a savory finish of herbs and stones, was tasty with a comparatively richer plate of Spaghetti Squash Carbonara.


This crab mac and cheese with bacon (recipe on NibblingGypsy.com ) is definitely decadent. These two rosés from Vital in Washington  (sample, $19)  and Twill Cellars in Willamette Valley,  Oregon ($20)  both had a lightly creamy texture which rounded out fruity palates and made excellent matches for the rich dish.

Vital winery is an interesting project. They're a non-profit in support of better healthcare for vineyard and cellar workers. 

All of the wines in  Poe Wine's Ultraviolet line are go-to's for me as they're great values hovering just around $15. This 2018 rosé was no exception and was delicious with butternut squash and bacon pizza.

Quiche is a similar case to a lot of the dishes mentioned above. It's got richness, but the flavor could easily be overpowered by a big red. A rosé matches the weight of the dish well without overwhelming it. This Boekenhoutskloof The Wolftrap Rosé Franschhoek Valley, South Africa 2018 (sample, avg price $14) was ideal with a quiche stuffed with onions, cauliflower, and mushrooms.

Mexican and South American Cuisines

These cuisines are a slightly different case. Here you often have many different flavors occurring in one dish. You might have steak, but it’s flavored with lots of bright citrus, plus lots of herbs a veggies. Alternatively, you might have light meats or seafood combined with richer elements like beans. Rosés tend to be able to bridge these different flavors. One note, if you have a dish with lots heat, you might want to opt for a fruitier rosé as it will help tame the heat better.

These nachos were fully loaded with all kinds of toppings. The Cline Cellars Ancient Vines Mourvedre Rosé 2018  (sample, avg. price $13) was up to the challenge. Mourvedré's smoky character came through and matched beautifully with the steak included in this fabulous mess we made one night at the Culinary Cabin.


The old pairing adage "what grows together goes together" definitely held true for this bottle Las Nubes Bodegas y Vinedos Jaak Rose Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico 2018  of ordered to go with a spread at Calavera Mexican Kitchen& Bar in Oakland.

While we were in San Diego visiting my in-laws recently, my mother-in-law made a version of Ajiaco, a traditional Colombian chicken stew we’d had during our wedding week in Medellin  – a long time ago now! I opened a bottle of Jaimee Motley Wines Mondeuse Rosé 2019   (sample, $24 ) to go with it.  It made such a lovely pairing as the brightness of the wine worked really well with the citrus and tomato notes in the dish, and as it's a bigger style of rosé (at least when compared to the light Provençal styles) it also worked really well with richer elements in the dish. This meal also brought back lots of happy memories in the process. Fun fact, the grapes for this wine come from the Rorick Heritage Vineyard we visited in this post.

Asian Cuisines

Similar elements are at play with Asian cuisines which also often have many different spices and flavor components at work in a dish or on the table at one time. Off-dry Rieslings (or other off-dry white wines) or a fruity bubbly like Prosecco tend to be my preference with sweeter dishes or more firey cuisines like Sichuan, but I often enjoy rosés with cuisines that aren’t toooooo sweet or spicy and still have many flavors in the mix. It’s likewise a good option if off-dry wines just aren’t to your taste. In general, I’d again recommend fruitier styles to work with dishes with some heat in the mix.

KPOP Wine Rosé of Barbera Testa Vinayard, Medocino County 2018 was a lovely combination of fresh and savory and made a delicious match for a crazy noodle stir-fry I made out of bool kogi with a bunch of bits and pieces and a mix of sauces. 
LVE Legend Vineyard  French Sparkling Rose NV (avg. price $17)  made a refreshing partner to our favorite Laotian take-out.
Both  Weingut Leitz Pinot Noir Rose Rheingau, Germany 2019  (I usually see this for around $18) and Tessier's Femme Fatale Rosé 2019 are lively, playful rosés with tangy fruit notes and are regular favorites of mine and made delicious matches for not-too-sweet, homemade takes on Pad Thai. Read more about Tessier's winemaker Kristie Tacey in this interview post here.)

This pairing for Chateau de Berne Inspiration Côtes de Provence Rosé 2019 (sample) came as a bit of surprise. We'd made meatballs in  Japanese curry with roasted broccoli and grabbed this bottle on a slight gamble. It paid off and the typically light rosé with notes of underripe strawberries, peach, pink grapefruit, with herbs on the finish got rounder and fruitier with the food.



Of course, rosés are perfectly paired with bright, sunny days  on their own as well, but that nearly goes without saying. August Kessler Pinot Noir Rosé Rheingau Germany 2019  (sample)  and CARBONISTE'S Sea Urchin Sparkling Rosé of Pinot Noir 2019($28) are two I've kicked back with on more than one occasion.

The main take away here is that rosés can bridge lots of flavors and textures in foods we enjoy year round, so don’t put them away permanently during the chillier months. Moreover, these same qualities make them perfect for holiday spreads where you have all kinds of dishes on the table at once!


As I've been writing this post, fires are once again raging across Napa and Sonoma. Many historical wineries have been burned to the ground or having sustained damage, including Shramsberg whose Brut Rosé I was just enjoying over the weekend with my friend Kristie, whose rosé is mentioned above. California is certainly not alone. I've heard that Twill Cellars, also mentioned above, has suffered major losses in Oregon. 

I'm certain these aren't the only ones, as the fires are continuing to burn here and many don't know the extent of damage as of yet. 

Certainly, this is not what I had in mind when I set out to write a post on rosé, which for me is almost always a wine that goes with happy times, but this is where climate change has left us and it's terrifying. 

If you're inclined to help, this page has a list of resources for California's wildfire relief and the American Red Cross is collecting funds for fires affecting all of the Western states. Buying wines from affected wineries directly benefits them as well.

For more pink inspiration, check out these posts and recipes related to rosé:


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