This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of the Italian Trade Commission. All opinions are 100% mine.
I’m not one for fashion rules, but there’s something in me that always has to wait until after Memorial Day to officially say yes way to Rosé.
Now that the hour of sunshine, linen, and maxi dresses is upon us, I thought I’d take a deeper dive into how to make the most of your pink-hued wine this summer–from unexpected rosé regions to explore to how to pair your homemade creations with them.
If this post is any indication, I’ve been trying to mature my wine palate over the last few years. This has been as much out of necessity as snobbery: ever since my Vice Detox, my taste buds and my head can’t handle the cheap stuff anymore. I’ve gotten much pickier about where the contents of my glass come from. And I try to go the extra mile to seek out small producers who practice old world techniques and treat their land with respect.
That said, it’s taken me a bit longer to evolve beyond the basic when it comes to rosé. And I’ve realized it’s high time I expand my horizons beyond the châteaux of Provence into other territories. When Charlie and I did our road trip through Italy last summer, one of the things we most enjoyed was getting to know the rosé wines (also known as rosato) in various regions–from the dry pale pinks of Lake Garda to the garnet, fruity, floral Sangiovese of Tuscany.
Usually, there would be just one option on each menu, a true testament to how the country’s wine and food culture values local artisanship above all else. Small menus reflect how Italians are impeccable curators of the best products available in any given place, during any given season.
As you know, ever since I studied abroad in Rome, I’ve put the Italian way of life on a high pedestal. Every time I return to the country, I’m once again reminded why. The simplicity and elegance that local makers bring to a hand-rolled string of spaghetti or a slow-cooked ragu, was equally represented in a glass of rosato. I know that sipping the full spectrum of wines of Italy‘s pink wine will be the perfect way to bring that sense of romanticism and deliciousness back into my kitchen before the next time I can return later this summer!
As far as wine connoisseurship goes, Italy can be tough to navigate since there are so many regions and grapes involved.
So, I’ve taken the liberty of putting together a little cheat sheet to help you identify the Italian rosé classics and what part of the country they come from. (For a taste of what you can expect from trying one, make sure to watch the video at the bottom of this post!)
THE BEST REGIONS FOR ITALIAN ROSATO AND WHAT TO PAIR WITH THEM
There are a ton of examples of great Italian Rosati. Here’s a cheat sheet for the classics and what make them special, from roughly North to South.
Chiaretto (Veneto/Lombardy) – Known as one of the dryer Italian rosés, these wines made from the Corvina or Groppello grape, depending on what side of the region they are from, are an elegant pale pink. “Chiaro” means “light” or “pale” in Italian. You can find these beauties in the Lake Garda region, and their minerality makes a perfect pairing for freshwater fish grilled or baked in salt. Pairings: Whole Roasted Trout with Thyme and Lemon
Rosato Spumante (Veneto) – From ground zero to Spumante (meaning sparkling!) wines (hello, Prosecco) this vibrant pink is perfect for seafood-based dishes and as an aperitivo, thanks to its liveliness, charm, and tart, delicate sparkle. There are delightful examples of pink spumante all over Italy. Pairing: Rosé Steamed Clams with Leeks
Nebbiolo Rosato (Piedmont) – Nebbiolo, named for the region’s pervasive fog, is one of the most famous grapes in northern Italy. Located between the Alps and the Ligurian Apennines, these rosatos have the fruitiness of Provence Rosé but the aromatic profile of Sauvignon Blanc. They pair well with heavier dishes, charcuterie and pasta from the region. Pairings: Classic dishes include veal tonnato, rosemary risotto, and fried zucchini blossoms. I’ve chosen this lemony saffron risotto, even though the saffron is more akin to the Milanese preparation in the Lombardy region.
Lambrusco di Sorbara (Emilia Romagna) – You might already be familiar with this grape as a dark-red frizzante. And if so, you must try the pale rosato version that’s dry with aromas of fresh raspberries and violets. Lambrusco is a large family of grapes, much like Moscato or Pinot, and the Sorbara clone naturally produces a much paler, rosé version of the grape. Fruitiness is a great pairing for spicy Asian and Indian cuisines. Pairings: Vietnamese Eggplant Lettuce Wraps; Korean Beef Bibimbap Bowls with Miso Sweet Potatoes and Spicy Tomatillo Sauce; End of Summer Cobb Salad with Creamy Carrot-Kimchi Dressing
Sangiovese Rosato (Tuscany) – Sangiovese, a dark-berried vine, is the most widely planted grape variety in Italy. The rosato wines that come out of Tuscany are a deeper garnet, and pair well with salty salumi, herby chicken, hearty legumes, and Mediterranean flavors. Pairings: Spicy Summer Chickpea Stew with Roasted Carrots, Spinach and Za’atar
Cerasuolo d’Abruzzo (Abruzzo) – Cerasuolo, which derives from the word for “cherry” in Italian, pretty much sums up the color and tone of these rosati from the eastern coast of the country. They are bright, fruity, and lower in tannins than the red version, due to less time spent fermenting on the skins of the Montepulciano grape. Pairings: Cheeses, fresh pasta, and tangy Asian flavors. I love the idea of pairing it with this Sweet Corn Pasta with Ricotta. It’s sweet, salty and savory.
Aglianico (Campania) – This ancient grape comes from the land of Naples and Mount Vesuvius. The volcanic soil of this area lends the wines their aromas of cherry, cinnamon and anise. They pair well with rice, pizza (duh) and pasta dishes, and also white meat poultry. Pairings: Healthy Chicken Parmesan with Fresh Cherry Tomato Sauce
Negroamaro (Puglia) – From the heel of the boot (geographically speaking!), these soft pink rosatos made with the negroamaro grape are great with intensely flavored seafood and buttery eggs. They are often bottled under the appellation of Salice Salentino. You can also look for the traditional Rosati made from Bombino Nero under the Castel del Monte appellation. Pairings: Sheet Pan Shrimp Puttanesca with Cherry Tomatoes and Chard; Italian Sausage, Onion and Pepper Frittata
Etna Rosato (Sicily) – Grown in the volcanic soil of Mount Etna, this zesty rosato can complement every dish at your table but goes especially well with eggplant and meatballs. It’s made predominantly from the Nerello Mascalese. These wines are some of the driest Rosati in Italy. Pairings: Eggplant Caponata Pasta.
What are your favorite Italian wines? Please give me your recs in the comments section! Also, check out the video below to learn more.