What to Do with Rosé

By Ray Isle Posted July 24, 2007

There's an engaging thread today on Eric Asimov's blog, The Pour, at the Times, regarding rosé—worthwhile, not worthwhile, delicious, foul, etc. Many opinions are expressed. For my part I agree there's a lot of insipid rosé in the world (if you start with insipid red wine, bleed some off, and bottle it as rosé, guess what—insipid rosé!) However, there are some wonderful pink wines floating around out there, too. And I think part of their appeal is that they don't attract attention. It's perhaps the ur-complement wine, by which I mean that its role is to make something else—food, a spring day, your date, your dog, whatever—seem more appealing somehow. (Of course, my dog when I was growing up, Bandit, had a terrible eczemic skin condition that caused all the hair to fall out of his back; because the skin was gray and wrinkly, he looked sort of like a half dog-half armadillo. All the rosé in Provence couldn't have made him attractive for a second, the poor guy.)

Anyway. What I suggest you do with rosé, rather than analyze it deeply, is serve it with what I'll call my Wing-It Corn Salad, with apologies to NY wine man-about-town Tony DiDio, whose sublime corn salad is the inspiration for this more off-the-cuff version. It's simple; also, it tastes great. Take about five ears of sweet summer corn. Shave off all the kernels with a sharp knife. Melt a knob of butter (Nigel Slater's always referring to knobs of butter, and I believe in ol' Nigel*) over medium heat, add the corn and cook for a few minutes, splash in some white wine (about a quarter cup), sauté a few more moments (aiming for that ideal tender-crisp state), then cut the heat and toss the corn with some chopped basil, scallions and/or chives, and tomatoes. Proportion-wise, you basically want the finished product to look like corn with stuff in it, rather than stuff with corn in it. Season with salt and pepper. Eat. If you find it needs a little tartness, a dash of red wine vinegar will work; even better is purslane from the farmer's market—it adds a nice lemony edge (thank you, Tony DiDio). And if you want to open up a bottle of rosé while you cook, well, go right ahead. I guarantee that the kitchen gods will not smite you in anger.

I'm going to be tasting a bunch of rosés tomorrow, and will report back on the best.

*After consultation with Marcia Kiesel, F&W's brilliant test kitchen director, I can report back that our official F&W interpretation of "a knob" is "a good tablespoon or so". Marcia also noted that she has an old cookbook with a recipe for chocolate cake that calls for "butter the size of two eggs," which we both agreed is a pretty great way of describing an amount of butter.

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