Why You Should Be Drinking Rosé This Winter

A wine for all seasons

Matthew Lardie says there's no need to wait until summer to enjoy a glass of rosé
Matthew Lardie says there's no need to wait until summer to enjoy a glass of rosé

By Matthew Lardie

Picture it — it’s been a long day, or week, or year. You’re ready to relax, to check out for a bit, and in your hand you’ve got a glass full of rosé. Where are you? Basking in the sun by the pool? Relaxing in a hammock on some tropical island? Clinking glasses with a friend at a sidewalk cafe on a warm July weekend?

Not me. I’m on the couch by the fireplace, book in hand as it snows outside. Or maybe it’s a dreary, rainy March day, and I’m standing in front of the stove stirring a warming pot of stew. Or perhaps I’m at the Thanksgiving table, sipping rosé between bites of turkey and stuffing.

If ever there was a hill that I’d be willing to die on it would be this one: rosé is a wine that can — nay, should — be enjoyed year round.

I am thankful that rosé has moved past its “pink wine is sweet wine” reputation and is now widely enjoyed across the country, but somehow in its meteoric rise to popularity it got pegged as a summer wine. The wine drinking public has started to embrace chilled reds and pet nats (pétillant naturel, or naturally sparkling wine), and we can easily find natural wine on lists from the coast to the heartland, but rosé still seems to be stuck in a rut, stereotyped as a seasonal sipper.

What you might not know is that rosé, like red or white wine, can be made from a wide variety of grapes, and with that diversity in grape varietal comes a diversity in taste profile. Sure, there are light-bodied Provencal rosés, meant to be drunk young and perfect for steamy summer nights, but there are also rosés made from Cabernet Sauvignon that have the body to hold up to hearty foods and colder climes.

I stand strong in my convictions, and I decided to recruit some of the smartest wine minds I know in my quest to spread the good word of rosé.

“Imagine [if] a painter decided to not use the color red for six months out of the year,” says Todd Chatterton, Sommelier and Beverage Director at the Fearrington House. “Those paintings would lack the depth of color that could be achieved the other six months. It would eliminate so many colors and shades. Same thing with not drinking rosé in the winter. So many wines and a large range of flavors would be missing.”

Todd Chatterton, Sommelier and Beverage Director at The Fearrington House, says rosé is an essential color yearround
Todd Chatterton, Sommelier and Beverage Director at The Fearrington House, says rosé is an essential color yearround (Krystle Kast)

Paula de Pano, sommelier and owner of the forthcoming Rocks + Acid Wine Shop in Chapel Hill, is also a believer in year-round rosé consumption. “It's a great aperitif wine for regular red wine drinkers as they transition into reds for their meals,” she says. “I've also seen wine drinkers who normally stick with whites venture out to the pink territory when they find that their whites aren't enough to go with their food's boldness.”

Maybe, like so many others, you’re ready to embrace the year-round rosé lifestyle. Where should you start? How do you pair it with food? Are there certain grapes that make a better cold-weather rosé than others? Once again, let’s turn to our experts.

“For colder weather, it makes sense to have darker, more extracted rosés,” explains Chatterton. “Often they can offer a bolder flavor and even a hint of tannin. Rosés from grapes with vegetal flavors such as Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon also provide a depth of flavor suited to winter weather and foods.”

My friend Sergio Ramos, formerly of the late lamented Bar Brunello and now wine educator and consultant at Sergio Ramos Wine, is a huge fan of Italian wines. “Two Italian grapes that make stunning iterations of rosé include Nebbiolo and Nerello Mascalese,” he says. “Both offer red fruit (strawberry, cherry) on the nose and palate and excellent minerality, with Nebbiolo projecting more floral notes and Nerello Mascalese providing a little more volcanic ash and spice.”

De Pano looks to the Mediterranean, too. “My vote goes to rosés coming from Greece and Central and Southern Italy,” she says. “Agioritiko rosés tend to be fruitier and richer in texture, while Xinomavro has a bit more grip and muscle. Italian rosés on the other hand can be very striking in color, especially when made from the Cerasuolo grape. These aren't your usual blush or salmon-hued roses. These are wines that go great with food and can easily bridge the gap for wine pairings for a wide array of dishes on the table.”

Paula de Pano of Chapel Hill's Rocks + Acid Wine Shop endorses Mediterranean rosés any time of year
Paula de Pano of Chapel Hill's Rocks + Acid Wine Shop endorses Mediterranean rosés any time of year (Jennifer Kelly/JNK Public Relations)

And speaking of food, oh the pairings a rosé can make! I love serving rosés with roast chicken or turkey. For a fantastic high-low combination try country ham biscuits or fried chicken with a glass of Ameztoi Rubentis rosé from Spain’s Basque region. When it comes to a decadent winter dessert moment, pour some flutes of Ruinart Brut Rosé Champagne alongside slices of my all-time favorite chocolate tart. Sub in a rosé where you might put a heavier white or lighter-bodied red and see what happens. Experiment!

“Don't be afraid of making duck and pork dishes” to go with your rosé, insists Ramos. “Or what about an excellent fennel sausage pizza with a Nebbiolo rosé?”

“Pairing rosés with meat and cheese stuffed pasta is always amazing,” says Chatteron. “Also, it can be great with roasted root vegetables and ratatouille.”

Paula de Pano is another rosé and ratatouille fan, but she also recommends “some really awesome traditional Greek dishes like Spetzofai (think rustic sausage and peppers but with tomato and wine), moussaka, astakomakaronada (spicy lobster pasta).” Who’s ready to fly to Greece for some rosé and lobster pasta?

The bottom line is this: if you love rosé during the summer months, why not enjoy it the rest of the year? Let’s discard the notion that pink wines must be seasonally-based and start treating them they way we do a white or red—as something with a wide variety of styles and expressions and an almost limitless possibility for pairings.

“Be adventurous with the wines you drink, regardless of the time of year,” advises Ramos. “Make sure you go to your local wine shop and ask the staff for recommendations. Tell them you want to expand your palate and geek out a little over regions you may not have ventured into.

“Or don’t, and let me drink all the rosé myself,” he adds.

“It's delicious. It's versatile. It's different,” says de Pano. “It's fun. It's inexpensive. It can be bubbly, still, in a can, or made into a slushie. What's not to love?”

What’s not to love, indeed! Rosé all day? More like all year, thank you very much.


About the Author

Matthew Lardie

Matt Lardie is a food, beverage, and lifestyle writer. Born and raised in New England, he has been exploring and eating his way through the Carolinas since 2008. He has been published in Our State Magazine, Wine Enthusiast, Apartment Therapy, Eater Carolinas, The Kitchn, Durham Magazine, and more. His first book, Unique Eats and Eateries: North Carolina, is due to be published in the fall of 2022. He lives in Durham, NC.