Rose wine, also called rosé or blush, is a pink wine made with wine skins fermented for only a short period. It does not develop a very robust flavor and is best chilled and used before it ages. Rose is slightly sweet and light-bodied. It works well with very spicy foods, but is also good with any chicken or fish. Do not use rose for cooking, as its light flavors do not stand up to heat.
Plum wine is made from plums with skins that are left to ferment. Though sweeter than rose wine, plum wine shares rose’s pink coloring and fruity flavors. Like rose, it is good with spicy foods. Because of plum wine’s sweetness, it also works when paired with desserts. If you do not enjoy dessert wines or other sweet wines, keep in mind that you may find plum wine cloying and want to opt for a drier alternative.
Scuppernong, or muscadine, wine is made from the thick-skinned sweet and sour scuppernong grapes indigenous to the southeastern U.S. Scuppernong wine is not mass-produced, and it is best bought from small wineries found throughout the southeast. The wine’s sweetness depends on the duration of its fermentation; wines left to ferment longer are sweeter and have a darker shade. A middle-bodied scuppernong is closest in color to rose, but considerably sweeter. Use any variety you like as a substitute for rose wine.
Pinot grigio is a light-bodied, fruity Italian white wine that is slightly more dry than rose wine. Whereas rose has traces of berries and plums, pinot grigio has notes of citrus. While the sweetness of rose can be a bit cloying, pinot grigio has a crisp, clean finish. Despite its differences, it works very well with spicy foods, as well as seafood and chicken.
Chardonnay is a medium-bodied white wine that ferments in oak and retains much of the oak flavor. Like pinot grigio, chardonnay has traces of citrus, but its finish is not crisp. Chardonnay is slightly sweet, but the oak can sometimes make the sweetness seem overbearing. Use with spicy foods, but not with bland dishes. The oak will overpower foods without a lot of spice.
Riesling is a white German wine with a bit of sweetness. Despite the sweet undertones, Riesling is a favored dessert wine among people who prefer little sweetness because of its complex, full finish. It also works well with chicken, fish and most spicy dishes. Ask your sommelier, or wine expert, for advice about the quality and flavor of various Rieslings. Use as a substitute for rose, paired with any foods that work well with rose.
References and ResourcesThe Cook's Thesaurus: Blush Wines
Gourmet Sleuth: Zinfandel
The Cook's Thesaurus: Fruit Wines
Drink Alternatives: De-Alcoholized Wines
Trevi Gourmet: The Rising Times of Rose Wine
Food and Drink Innovation Network: Martini Lauches the Martini Italian Spritzer
ResourcesThe Fine Wine Society: How to Buy Rosé
"The Metro West Daily News"; Wine Wisdom: Think Pink and Chill This Summer; Mark Vincent; June 2009
Middle Finger Lakes Wine Guide: A Rosé by Another Name Might Make You Blush
"Food and Wine"; Best Rosé Champagnes and Sparkling Wines; Ray Isle
The Kitchn: Hooray, It's the Rosé Wine Season Again; Mary Gorman; May 2009
"Martha Stewart Weddings": Our Rose Wine Picks