Dinner Time and Wine: Three Pairings for Sparkling Rosé (#winepw)

We’ve just flipped the calendars from July to August, and you know what that means – only a few weeks left to enjoy the relaxed pace of summer. But before we jump back into reality, let’s linger in our beach chairs dallying over the final plot twists of a book or watching a few more sunsets. There’s no hurry; after all, the refrigerator is stocked, and the rosé is on ice. Just sit back and enjoy the quiet. The Wine Pairing Weekend group (#WinePW) has pulled together a list of delicious options for your end-of-summer dining pleasure.

Our host this month is Lori from Dracaena Wines, and we’ll be discussing our favorite pairings with rosé. That is a spectacularly wide range of wines, by the way! Rosé can be made with hundreds of different grapes and can represent almost any style of wine: pale or bright pink, still or sparkling, totally dry or with a hint of sweetness to it. Pink wines cover a lot of territory.

Because it has so many different “looks” rosé works well with all types of cuisine. Some of the heartier versions hold their own with grilled steaks, while milder rosés make great partners with seafood, salad, and charcuterie. And, despite what you might have assumed, there is no longer a proper season for rosé: drink it whenever and wherever you like!

This Saturday, August 12th, we will gather on twitter to discuss our favorite rosé pairing ideas. Care to join us? It’s super-easy to do. At 11 a.m. EDT, follow the conversation by typing #WinePW into the Twitter search box. Click the “Latest” button, and you’re in! You will see all of our tweets in real time. If you’d like to participate, we’d love to have you. Just make sure to append #WinePW to each of your tweets so we’ll know you’re there. It’s always a fun, enlightening discussion, with inspiration and motivation aplenty. Scroll down to the end of this post to get a preview of what all of us will be contributing to the chat.

I’ve come up with three meals for three different occasions, all which pair splendidly with a sparkling rosé made from my favorite Bordeaux grape, Cabernet Franc. There is a super-simple weeknight dinner that won’t disappoint, a special date night menu, and an easy but delicious solution for those nights when you’re cooking for one. But first, the wine . . . .

La Cravantine Slanted

NV Domaine Fabrice Gasnier La Cravantine ($22 at Moore Brothers)

This sparkler is a real treat! Made from 100% Cabernet Franc grapes (30-year-old vines) grown in the Chinon region of the Loire Valley, La Cravantine is crafted according to the traditional method (the same way Champagne is made.) The entire 24-hectare estate was certified biodynamic (Demeter) and organic (Ecocert) in 2009. Vineyards occupy south-facing slopes, which facilitate slow, even ripening; the stony topsoil lies over a base of Tuffeau de Touraine (calcareous and clay mixture) ensuring good drainage. The Tuffeau stone plays another important role in the city of Tours: many of the famous castles of the region are made out of it!

Color: Perfect rose gold with tiny diamonds (bubbles!) Honestly, it looks like my wedding ring.

Nose:  Red currant, berries, a bit of strawberry, chalk, and a whiff of thyme.

Taste:  Red fruit galore, wet stones, and shortbread. Dry with bright acidity and a long finish.

Verdict:  If you’re a Cab Franc fan, you’ve got to try it. All the lovely red fruit of a still wine from Chinon, plus the complex, bubbly goodness of traditional method sparklers. For me, the price point makes it a no-brainer. You might suspect I’ve got a few bottles stashed away, and you’d be right!

Dinner for One

Home alone? No need to order take-out; make this scrumptious calzone instead. If you’re pressed for time, buy refrigerated pizza dough from your local grocery store and put leftovers to good use in the filling.  Here in Florida Publix sells fresh dough in the bakery department. Look for it in the refrigerated case, next to the prepared cakes and pies. Of course, if you’re up for the challenge, you can make your own.

Calzone Halved

As for what goes inside, you’re limited only by your imagination – or whatever’s in your fridge! For my Cab Franc-friendly version, I’ve included caramelized red onion, yellow bell pepper, leftover roast chicken, and cheese – in this case, provolone and parmesan. And there’s a little fresh oregano thrown in for zesty flavor. Other variations that work could include pork, beef, or chicken sausage (my favorite) and a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs. Peppers and herbs highlight similar flavors in the wine, making them tasty partners with Cab Franc.

For a good, all-purpose calzone recipe that you can adapt any number of ways, start with this one from the New York Times. It’s easy on both the effort and time required, and always tastes good!

Elegant Weeknight Dinner When You’re on the Go

My husband and I both work from home and our days often extend past 7:00 pm. As a result, I’ve had to develop a repertoire of quick weeknight meals that are also delicious and healthy. The template relies on lean meat or fish paired with a vegetable or salad, but the iterations are endless. We recently enjoyed a filet of Copper River Salmon alongside an arugula salad topped with fresh blueberries and marinated red onion. The salmon was such a brilliant match with the La Cravantine that I will instinctively reach for a bottle the next time I make it. While Copper River Salmon season is frustratingly short, you could easily use sock-eye or another type of salmon instead. If it’s fatty and flavorful, you can bet it will work with the wine!

Copper River Salmon and Salad

To dress the salad, you can use regular olive oil and vinegar, or even a prepared vinaigrette if you like. I love the products from O Olive Oil Company in California, particularly their organic Blood Orange Oil. And I’ve just discovered the Blood Orange Vinegar from Napa Valley Vinegar Company. Together they rock the salad!

Regarding the salad, there are two nice complements: Blueberries coax lovely fruit flavors from the wine, enhancing a different aspect of the pairing. And the arugula highlights the herbal, green notes. It all works really well!

A note on the salmon preparation: it might seem strange to cook the fish skin-side down. I thought so, too, until I tried it Joel Robuchon’s way! His recipe for Saumon Poêlé au Chou featured in the book Simply French has forever changed the way I cook fish. Try it for yourself.

Pan Roasted Salmon and Arugula Salad– adjust quantities to your needs

Copper River Salmon (or other wild-caught salmon); about 6 oz. per person
Fresh arugula
Fresh blueberries
Half a red onion, thinly sliced cross-wise
Blood orange vinegar (or your favorite, go-to vinaigrette)
Blood orange olive oil (ditto)
One ovolina  (fresh mozzarella the size of an egg; usually come in containers of three) diced
Salt and pepper

  1. Toss the onion with a generous splash of vinegar. Crush the blueberries and mix in. (I just squeeze them in my hands over the bowl.)
  2. Score the salmon skin in a criss-cross pattern using a sharp knife.
  3. Season both sides of the salmon with salt and pepper. You can use other spices, just don’t overdo it.
  4. Heat a little olive oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat until sizzling.
  5. Add salmon, skin-side down. Cook without turning until the skin is very crisp, about two minutes.
  6. Turn salmon over (carefully!) and cook 30 seconds more. Remove from heat and cover. Fish will continue to cook while it rests.
  7. Assemble the salad on a platter. Add arugula to the onion and blueberries and top with olive oil. Toss all together, adding more oil/vinegar if necessary. Add diced ovolina on top.
  8. Place salmon over the salad and sprinkle a few drops of blood orange vinegar over top.
  9. Serve.


 A Romantic Dinner for Two

This is one of my favorite meals to make, and it’s relatively simple to prepare. It comes from Food and Wine’s September 2008 issue devoted to Our 30 Best Fast Recipes Ever. Truth be told, several recipes from that issue are in constant rotation in my house! I love veal chops but reserve them for special occasions or when we want to treat ourselves to a beautiful meal cooked at home. Roasted Veal Chops with Grapes delivers on all counts!

Veal Chop with Grapes Platter

What makes this a Cab Franc-friendly dish? The grapes are roasted with red wine vinegar and butter, resulting in a slightly sweet, tangy, creamy sauce that complements the veal without upstaging it. The wine does the same thing – it has lovely red fruit balanced by bright acidity – making the food come alive. To accompany the chops, I suggest honey-glazed carrots with tarragon. I don’t really have a recipe – it’s all a matter of parboiling the carrots, draining them, and adding butter, honey, tarragon, salt and pepper. Simple but elegant. (Note: Williams-Sonoma sells granulated honey in a jar that is phenomenal on the carrots!)

So there you have it: a few of my favorite meals for pairing with sparkling rosé. I hope you’ve been inspired to get into the kitchen and whip up something delicious for yourself. And remember – while Cab Franc (red or rosé; still or sparkling) is a brilliant partner with food, it’s also highly enjoyable on its own. I’ll drink to that!

Here’s what’s on order from the rest of the #WinePW bloggers this month:


    • Thanks Wendy. The salad is easy to make and never disappoints. And it can be changed up to suit whichever ingredients you’ve got on hand. My favorite part is crushing the fruit and letting it macerate in the vinaigrette before dressing the greens. Sweet, tangy, and yum!


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