#7: Wine with Food | 💕 🥂 ROSÉ AND FIZZ
The wines of celebration and summer. Often the most misunderstood wines, so let's dig into what goes with which.
Greetings! Sorry this week is a little late across, COVID 3.0 dropped in Dosage HQ. Thankfully taste and smell have only been dented slightly!
This is the third instalment of four that I’m planning on different styles of wines, for now at least. This is probably the most fun, and camp. While there’s a bit of a rep for cheap n’ nasty in this category, there are some stunning wines in this field to dabble into.
We’re deep into winter coolness and Christmas cheer in my part of the world. If you’re in the same boat, Prosecco and Champagne are more than likely being popped in a pub or office party near you. Happy. Days.
But if you fancy a bottle of Barefoot White Zinfandel or Whispering Angel amongst the chill, do not feel shamed. Rosé is a fabulous go-to that works for all seasons and pairs with a lot of different foods as it’s not quite white, not quite red… As you may have guessed. (Not everyone twigs that, but just to be clear we’re all on the same page).
Let’s dig in, shall we?
If you want a weekly drop on how wine and food can be a match made in heaven, pop your email below!
In the infamous words of Beverly Hills Queen Lisa Vanderpump, “Life isn’t all diamonds and rosé but it should be”. What a sentence! Unlike for reds and whites, rosé can be a bit of a misnomer for some, so let me briefly go into some fun facts behind it for those interested - or feel free to skim onto my thoughts.
Rose is not just a blend of red and white wine that you may have done in your younger times as you mineswept around a wedding. It can be made this way where the red and white wine is mixed as a blend at the end. What’s more common though, is for the skins to be left on the grapes for a little bit before the juice is pressed off of a what would normally be a red wine. There’s also the option of some white grapes that have a pinkish hue to their skins with a little bit more skin contact - Pinot Grigio, I’m looking at you.
Rosé used to have a name for being sweet, cheap n’ nasty - but it’s come a long way in the last decade, even. A Provence Rosé used to be something you’d enjoy on your holidays and never to be drunk outside of the Cote d’Azur. Enter Whispering Angel, which now accounts for over 20% of the US market alone, and has become an icon in itself.
Rosé is often seen as the summer drink of choice in a pub that you can count on with or without food. But it really does go with basically, anything. Even sliced jalapeños in rosé makes it a fabulous lazy cocktail - Gen Z and Dosage tried and tested. Read on for more!
Full bodied Rosés are relatively rare at the moment, but they’re more like a white wine pretending to be a red. I tip that this will change, as we get more into the world of skin contact/orange and natural wine (don’t you worry, both on my list to cover). These will go well with a a red meat or an earthy veggie dish - I’m thinking barbequed lamb or an aubergine parmigiana.
My pick: ‘Araceli’ Pinot Grigio, Renegade Winery, £27. I’ve already covered the genius of Renegade in a previous blog, and this is somewhat of an orange, somewhat of a rosé - but it’s like nothing I’ve ever tasted in a vino before. Lovely on its own, or could hold up to a steak.
On the lighter body side, you’re looking for something a little more fruity, light touch and very pale in colour generally. This would go nicely with a veggie dish or a salad. I’m thinking this would go really well with grilled halloumi, or maybe a tuna niçoise.
My pick: Les Arbousiers Coteaux du Languedoc, Virgin Wines, £11.99. This is a Southern French wine made with what you’d expect in most rosés, a mix of cinsault and grenache blanc. These grapes can make fiery reds, but tend to make a well balanced, fruity and light rosé with a hint of sweetness.
Rosé is becoming a much bigger category as we get a taste for it, and I’d put Whispering Angel in the middle of the road area. It’s a lovely fresh rosé with a lot of character, but there’s others that can be enjoyed a teeny bit cheaper and less pretentious. These Rosés can go with basically anything - but what’s really hankering my craving is to pair this with crispy shredded garlic chicken and fried rice from the local takeaway. And some stir fried veg to get a bit of vitamin C in, naturally.
My pick: Call me nouveau riche, but I’m a big fan of Lady A, The Rosé Collective, £14.99. THE(house) Rosé of Soho House, it’s balanced, dry and has a nice chunk of fruit within it: perfect with food, or to sip and rub shoulders at a fancy do. Plus, the glass bottle with a Damien Hirst illustration is just begging for a candle to be stuck in it.
Rosé is typically fruity by it’s nature, but a fan of something more floral? A note on this: If you like an Italian wines in particular, a white like Soave is meant to give you a scent of chamomile or even the big red, Barolo will give you rose or dried herbs if you’re lucky. With that in mind a splash of pink… An Italian or Greek Rosé are most likely to give you violet or rosiness on the nose, that will go really well with a middle eastern mezze or a tagine - with fish, meat or veggie for that matter.
My pick: Troupis Route Gris Moschofilero 2021, Naked Wines, £13.99. Floral wines can feel a bit radical, so let’s jump out of our comfort zone here. I am loving the vibrancy of indigenous grape varieties that you can experience with Greek wines, and this one shouldn’t let up. Tangy, floral and zingy, this will keep summer going in a glass.
Some people love the syrupy palette to a White Zinfandel from California, which is the highlighter pink Barefoot or Blossom Hill that is either delving up trauma or making your cheeks rosy for the shame of a guilty pleasure. This stuff is quite the ticket in terms of sweetness, and not for all palettes - but it can go down well with some cubes of ice to try and dampen down the flavours a bit during a heatwave. You might need to give your teeth a brush for these sweet styles on their own, but they’ll go well with a very spicy or sour dish. Fish tacos with a habanero salsa, or a caprese salad with plenty of balsamic will go very well here.
My pick: Baron Herzog, Waitrose, £11.99. Californian White Zinfandel is hard to jump from if this is what you’re after, so here’s a slightly drier, more elegant one to try before grabbing the Echo Falls.
“I drink Champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not hungry and drink it when I am. Otherwise, I never touch it―unless I’m thirsty.”
Lady Bollinger herself, no less gave this quote - the lady behind the explosion of Champagne as a celebratory drink in the US from her own persona as a marketing mogul. Although Champagne is the quintessential and most renown fizz, there’s a lot of competition coming its way. Prosecco has had us in a chokehold for the last two decades, while Pet Nat and Franciacorta are picking up as bougie, yet competitively priced alternatives.
So much to say about how each fizz is made - Dosage is named after one of the steps of making traditional sparkling wines like Champagne, after all. But the quick and dirty explainer to try and keep this as simple as possible:
Champagne, Cava and Methode Cap Classique fizzes have been made in a double fermentation step: where vats of fermented grape juice are aged in oak, before being aged in the bottle with some of the lees. These are the dead yeast which add toastiness to the mix, before it’s frozen and popped off the top of the bottles by freezing the heads. Labour intensive, but makes a characteristic flavour to help bring down some of the zing from generally very acidic fruit.
Prosecco and other fizzes like Moscato d’Asti are fermented within a stainless steel tank, where the carbon dioxide isn’t allowed to escape - allowing the bubbles to form from the forced pressure. Depending on whether it’s a dry or a sweet style, this varies based on the temperature and length of fermentation - but ultimately is much quicker and scalable to make than a traditional method sparkling. You’ll need a warmish climate with ripe fruit to get away with this method - if you were to try it in Champagne, it would lead to vinegar production.
Fizzes come in all colours, although white is the most commonly found. Nonetheless, I’ve given a few options for each.
Let’s start with the obvious and most elegant, shall we? Champagne has the reputation of being the most premium sparkling wine, and for good reason. Champagne is generally a blend of Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier that are grown in cool climates, leading to a sharp acidity that’s balanced with some vanilla and toast. It’s not always to everyone’s palette based on its sharpness, but it will do really well to cut through bigger, rounded flavours. Perfect for fish and chips, oysters or lobster.
My pick: Laurent Perrier La Cuvée NV, Laithwaites, £29.99. I’m biased to prefer a more Chardonnay-heavy sparkling, and this one provides a lovely clean palette at a relatively good price point. Non vintages from bigger houses can be a controversial pick as they are formulated to taste the same, but they do make for a reliable pick at the very least.
Fancy something quite spritzy out of your sparkling wine? A Riesling will do quite nicely here. Riesling is often one of the most misunderstood grapes which can make some really deep citrussy flavours. Those conscious of wine snobs, THIS is the grape that can give you notes of petrol. I’d pair a sparkling Riesling in your paw if you’re going to a BYOB Vietnamese. It’ll go fabulously with caramelised fish, summer rolls with a peanut dip or spritz up a pho.
My pick: Weingut Feth Brut NV, Savage Wines, £19.95. German wines have a reputation of being sweet and eye twitching, but this is quite a far cry from it. This organic single estate number should be bone dry with plenty of citrussy notes.
Looking for something a little more smooth? Crémant d’Alsace or Crémant de Loire are really good picks here. Crémant had a bit of a moment a few years ago when Dolly Alderton and Pandora Sykes raved about it on the High Low podcast, where you’re getting a champagne-style for a knock off the price. An Alsace sparkling will have a slightly sweet tone to it which is lovely mix to a good cheese and charcuterie board. A Loire will generally be citrussy and fresh when typically we have a Chenin Blanc. Dare I say, a chicken shwarma with extra garlicky sauce is going to go fabulously here.
My pick: Bouvet Ladubay Saumur, Majestic Wine, £9.99. This one is practically theft. A little more rounded on the nose and palette than you’d expect from a Champagne in fact, this is the perfect wedding/celebration wine on a shoestring.
Not Prosecco again? No hate, but it’s never my first pick for fizz. I LOVE Cava, or else Franciacorta is one that’s getting a lot of popularity of late. Cava’s made just outside of Barcelona, while Franciacorta is in Northern Italy. Both are made in a Champagne style, but the grapes used plus a warmer climate, you get a bit more of a fruity note along with the biscuity goodness. These will go fabulously with an eggy brunch: shakshuka or frittata is where my mind is at when I think of these.
My pick: Mas Sardana Cava, Naked Wines, £11.99. I’m a big fan of the Xarel-lo and Macabeo grapes that you’ll find in a Cava which give a flinty, ripe lime fruit on their own in a still wine. Shockingly my personal preference to a Champagne, this will be less sharp on the tongue.
Count yourself as a Hipster? Pet Nat has been more than likely on your radar then, I am assuming. Pétillant Naturel (naturally sparkling en Francais) is the oldest method of making a sparkling wine, that generally means that the fermentation is finished within the bottle rather than in a vat, and doesn’t have oak or lees ageing. You’ll get a lighter, jazzier and lower in alcohol drink that has been exploding in popularity of late. Goes well with a gamey terrine, or a buttery fish dish depending on the grapes used.
My pick: Chatzivaritis Estate 'Migma' Pet Nat, Maltby & Greek, £27. This Greek take on Pet Nat is quite something on the palette - plenty of fresh stone fruits with a hint of smokiness. Majority Muscat which is generally a sweet style wine, this one is dry and the perfect alternative toast if you’re looking for something a little different.
It might not be everyone’s cup of tea or privilege to sample, but there are some foamy white fizzes out there. Txakoli, the Basque favourite is a wine that foams on pouring (from high) leaving a feint fizz that is refreshing and sharp. It’s hard not to pair this one with the Pinxtos of San Sebastian or Bilbao from my trip there, so I recommend this one with a slice of Tortilla de Espanola or Basque Cheesecake.
My pick: Ameztoi, Natty Boy Wines, £17. Not quite a Vinho Verde zing, but on the same lines if that’s up your alley from Iberian holidays.
Sparkling reds exist, and Lambrusco is becoming a bit of a hipster irony at the moment. They have a slightly sweet hue to them, which actually would cue quite well to handle some spice - I’d go with this for a vindaloo or jalfrezi if you’re grabbing an Indian takeaway.
My pick: Vigna Rossa, Top Cuvee, £24.99. These folk put natural wine on the East London hipster’s map, and they’ve gone from strength to strength ever since - as HAS Lambrusco.
Who doesn’t love a bit of pink fizz? Much like a white compared to a rosé, the latter will hold up beautifully to so many food pairings, sweet or savoury with a little more tannin from the skin contact. A sparkling rosé will do wonders with smoked salmon, mussels or even a spanakopita. If you need a bit of fat to mellow out, this one will do the trick.
My pick: Gusbourne Estate Rosé, £48, Gusbourne Estates. I recently went out to the Gusbourne vineyard in Kent and while this is pricey, boy does this pack a treat. Gusbourne’s making some of the, if not THE best sparkling wine in England at the moment - and one vintage even topped Champagne in the ranks. Their sparkling Rosé is a classic champagne blend with a little added red fruit that is a beauty with almost anything paired.