This popular pink wine is great with food. Here’s what you need to know about rosé wine and its best food pairings — from grilled chicken to spicy dishes.
It dates all the way back to the 6th century BC, but rosé wine has become hugely popular in recent years. In part this is thanks to its Insta-friendly gorgeous hue — it can range from a pale baby pink to a vibrant splash of magenta — but this pink wine has compelling qualities beyond its appearance.
Vibrant, crisp and fresh, this most versatile of drops effortlessly straddles the divide between a white wine and red wine. (But no, if you’re wondering if rosé is a mix of red and white wine, that method fell out of fashion a long time ago.) Rosé wine can be served as a still wine or sparkling, and for a special occasion, there’s also rosé Champagne. The pink wine can be sweeter in style or deeply savoury. In short, the many different types of rosé wine mean you can have endless fun getting to know the rosé drink.
So what exactly is a rosé wine? Rosé isn’t a type of grape but rather a style of wine. And how is rosé made? It is produced similarly to a conventional red wine using red grapes, but the time it is fermented with grape skins (a process known as maceration) is much shorter. This reduced skin contact gives rosé wine its signature pink colour.
Rosé wines can differ depending on their origins and the grape varietals used. The pale, lighter style of rosé tends to be made from thinner-skinned grapes such as pinot noir; darker and more full-bodied rosé wines come from thicker-skinned grapes such as cabernet sauvignon.
One of the most popular rosé wine varieties is French rosé — typically from its spiritual home of Provence in southern France – which is commonly made with a mix of mourvèdre along with grenache, syrah and cinsault for a dry and elegant finish.
In the Australian wine world, rosé has often been made with shiraz grapes to produce a deep red rosé wine. But there’s no one-size-fits-all. That’s what makes rosé special compared to other wines — it’s a broad church, best explored with an equally expansive food repertoire.
When it comes to food matching with rosé, it pays to think about the weight of the wine — is it a pale, dry style that needs more delicate flavours to really shine, or a bolder red rosé wine that can hold its own with bigger flavours?
A light, dry Provencal rosé (such as the Triennes rosé or even the signature drop from “our” Kylie Minogue) will guide you to the Mediterranean. With this southern France style of rosé, take your cues from seafood, whether raw or cooked, as well as light pasta dishes. Antipasto items such as melon and prosciutto skewers are another dream combination. A rosé wine pairing with cheese is also perfect for a summertime meal. A pinot noir-based rosé like The Ned from Marlborough will sing with fresh, lighter styles of cheese such as goat’s curd, creamy burrata or a buffalo mozzarella.
Rosé wine is a great companion for the simple seasonal favourite of a barbecue too. A mid-weight rosé such as the Barton & Guestier AOC Rose d’Anjou from France’s Loire Valley is a great way to celebrate the delicious simplicity of, say, a grilled chicken and salad. A bolder, richer style of Australian rosé wine such as Fifth Leg or Jim Barry’s “Barry & Sons” rosé, which is made with grenache, is an ideal match for your steak.
And unlike many of its white wine and red wine brethren, rosé wine can stand up really well to spicy food. Next time you try an Indian curry or a Thai larb salad, the acidity and fragrance of a sweeter style of rosé wine such as Whispers Pink Moscato is just the ticket to cut through the spice, without overwhelming your palate with tannins.
You can even turn your rosé wine into food (of a sort) with frosé. Yes, that’s rosé frozen into slushie form and a huge trend in recent years. A dessert and a drink in one — that’s guaranteed to keep you in the pink.