Is Crab and Fennel Risotto the perfect pink wine pairing?
Are you one of those people who says, “I don’t like rosé”? Maybe an early experience with a sweet Portuguese rose or even the awful White Zin has stopped you venturing into this increasingly popular wine type. Did you know that in Greek and Roman times, all red wines were actually pink because the juice was always separated from the grape skins early in the wine-making process?
It’s no longer just the esteemed Provence region of France producing these wines; from Champagne to Bordeaux, to Rioja, to South America and Australia there really is a rosé for everyone (I’m not going to write about white Zin, which surely is the worst wine in the world!)
8th June has been designated National Rosé Day. When the sun is shining a chilled glass of rosé always seems like a good idea to me. From the faintest hint of a pink blush through to salmon pink, rosés come in all hues and from all over the world. The colour of a rosé wine can indicate something about its origin and style. For instance, rosés that are darker and rosier are more likely to have come from warmer climates. They may also be more full-bodied and have more berry-like flavours. Lighter coloured rosés, on the other hand, often come from cooler climates. They tend to be brighter and crisper but still fruity, with flavours predominately in the citrus range.
Most rosés are made entirely from red grape varieties, though some incorporate small amounts of white grapes for different aromas and flavours. In the south of France, for example, popular red wine grapes such as Grenache, Mourvedre, Cinsault, Syrah and Carignan often form the base of the area’s rosés, and in Spain, you’re likely to find Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Graciano. And of course, some of the most respected French Champagnes are made from red Pinot Noir or Pinot Meunier grapes.
Rosés are very food-friendly. Those that are slightly sweet (off-dry) are well suited to casual fare such as picnics and to fragrant spiced dishes such as Indian or Thai curries and spicy salads. Dry rosés often pair well with classic Mediterranean dishes; think bouillabaisse and moules. Oysters, smoked salmon, risotto, and roast chicken or pork are also great matches.
We started our little rosé journey with a bottle of 2017 Sancerre from Joseph Mellot. Made from Pinot Noir grapes, this was dry to the palate, with aromas of stone fruits, soft on the palate with peaches and notes of strawberry. A really lovely rosé; thinking of ‘pink goes with pink’ I paired this with a crab and fennel risotto.
This recipe can be adapted for almost any type of seafood. You can prepare your seafood from scratch, or buy good quality pre-prepared.
- 400 g Crabmeat Allow extra time to cook and prepare the crab if you buy a live one.
- 1 bulb Fennel
- 1 Red chilli, chopped De-seed for less heat
- 6 Anchovy fillets
- 2 litres Fish Stock
- 1 tbsp Olive oil
- 3 Shallots or small red onions, finely chopped
- 3 Celery stalks, finely chopped
- 400 g Risotto rice Arborio or Carnaroli
- 100 ml Dry Vermouth Dry white wine is also fine
- 1 knob Butter
- 2 tbsp Olive oil
- 2 Juice of lemons
- 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
- 1 handful fresh parsley, chopped
Mix the marinade ingredients and season
Add the crabmeat to the marinade
Put the stock into a pan on a low heat, keeping it just below a simmer
In a seperate pan heat the olive oil. Add the chopped shallots, celery, chopped fennel and chills. Add a pinch of sea salt such as Maldon. Stir.
When the vegetables have softened, add the anchovies and let them melt.
Add the rice and turn up the heat. Stir continuously until the rice turns translucent. Don't let it colour.
Add the Vermouth or wine. Keep stirring until it's cooked into the rice.
Add a ladle of stock and a pinch of salt. Keep the heat at a low simmer.
Keep adding ladles of stock, stirring and waiting until it's absorbed before adding the next. This takes about 20 minutes.
Keep checking the rice to see if it's cooked. It should be soft but with a slight bite.
Now add the crabmeat. Tha aim is to warm it through, not cook it.
Remove from the heat. Stir in the knob of butter and garnish with left over fennel fronds or some edible flowers.
A Saturday night at home deserves a glass of fizz, I feel. We popped open the rather funky looking bottle of Vilarnau Rosé Reserva and paired it with some luscious English strawberries that I’d marinated in an Elderflower liqueur. This worked well, as the wine delivered strawberries, gooseberries and pears. It had a nice dry finish. A really nice bottle of fizz for the price, and one that’s fun to take to parties.The hue of the Hancock and Hancock rosé certainly gave away its origin from the heat of Australia’s McLaren Vale. Full of cherries and pomegranate it’s a great match for duck dishes. I made a sauce using blood oranges, Aperol, home-made marmalade, and a touch of the wine itself. The meat-eating men in my family were very happy with this change from the more delicate fish dishes, and the wine went well with the richness of the duck and the tangy sauce.
Most rosés are made for enjoyment and do not need to be cellared or aged. In general, rosés should be drunk within six months to a year of purchase. I rather like this poem written about rosé by Kenny Chesney:
It’s a smile.
It’s a kiss.
It’s a sip of wine.
Will you be joining me in seeing the world through rosé coloured glasses?
If you’d like to explore the wines for yourself they can be found from the following stockists:
Beronia Rosé – Ocado £9.95
Vilarnau Rosé Reserva – Ocado, Tesco £12.00
Louis Jadot Coteaux Bourguignons Rosé 2017| £15.65| Wholefoods, Taylor’s Fine Wine, The Shenfield Wine Company
Robert Oatley Hancock & Hancock Grenache Rosé 2016| £14.95| Cambridge Wine Merchants, Leamington Wine Company, Field and Fawcett: https://www.fieldandfawcett.co.uk/wine/ros/grenache-rose-hancock-and-hancock/ Ann et Vin, Fenwick
Joseph Mellot Sancerre le Rabault Rosé 2017| £22.85| North and South wines and The Guildford Wine Company
Taittinger Brut Prestige Rosé NV| RRP: £50.60 | Stockists: Waitrose, Tesco, ASDA, Oddbins, John Lewis, Fortnum & Mason, Amps Fine Wines, The Vineyard Cellars, Luvians Bottleshop,Wine Direct UK