You’ve got guests coming for the first time in months; now what? Whether you want a simple spread you can whip up on a hot day with little effort or you want to show everyone your entertaining game is still at its peak, Wine Spectator has you covered, with five favorite summery selections from our 8 & $20 weeknight cooking series and our Perfect Match and seasonal entertaining recipes from noted chefs. Each of these calls for a bottle of refreshing rosé, from the pale pinks of Provence to more robust Spanish rosados, to suit the season. We hope you find a new favorite of your own.
If you’ve never prepared raw fish at home, this recipe for aguachile from chef Roy Ellamar of Harvest in Las Vegas' Bellagio resort is a great, low-key introduction. A type of ceviche that hails from Mexico's Sinaloa state, classic aguachile features raw shrimp dressed or submerged in the herb-seasoned, lime juice–based “chile water” for which the dish is named. Ellamar's version stars raw, sashimi-grade, sustainably caught tuna for a richer flavor and is topped with a confetti-like blitz of purple onion, red pepper, yellow heirloom tomato and green herbs—a festive nod to summer.
Jason Smith, who as executive director of wine for MGM Resorts oversees Harvest’s Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence–winning list, says not to let the dish’s chile element fool you: “The cucumbers really cool the jalapeños down.” He recommends the dish with a dry rosé from southeastern France. The weight of the fruit-driven blend of Grenache, Cinsault and Syrah matches the depth of the tuna, and the floral, minerally hints in the glass set off the dish’s range of fresh herbs and sparkle of fleur de sel.
Inspired by a visit to Provence, this chilled couscous dish, which can be stirred up in a home kitchen minutes before serving, bursts with the bright flavors of ripe tomatoes, feta cheese, green onion and herbs. This version uses basil and sage (the sage lends a dusky, weightier flavor), but mint can be swapped in. Top-quality, just-picked, so-good-they're-almost-like-candy cherry tomatoes make a big difference here; their sweetness really comes through in this dish, which gains heft from protein-packed chickpeas and refreshing crunch from diced cucumber. A Grenache-based rosé blend from Aix-en-Provence, with notes of stone fruit and berry, had the body and fresh acidity to gracefully greet the couscous' mélange of flavors.
Make any meal festive with this Mexican dish that can do triple duty as an entrée, appetizer or party snack. Easy to make, flautas (“flutes” in Spanish) are corn or flour tortillas stuffed with a filling, rolled up and fried—delivering a lot of flavor with minimal ingredients. In this recipe, cumin, green onion and cilantro (or another fresh herb) add punches of spice and brightness to the ground pork, pepper and onion mixture. Creamy guacamole and a sprinkle of grated Cotija cheese add a final flourish. The slightly fuller body of a zippy Spanish rosado with citrus and cherry notes matches up well with the flavorful pork.
Don’t be intimidated by the lofty reputation and refined American cuisine of Patrick O’Connell, chef-owner of rural Virginia’s culinary destination Inn at Little Washington. For entertaining in the summer heat, the chef behind the Wine Spectator Grand Award winner suggests a light preparation for grilled salmon that’s easy enough for any home cook. His recipe eschews heavy, premade sauces in favor of fresh herbs and seasonings that “give the salmon a lot of wonderful flavor and just feel like summer.” Coated with mustard seeds, dill and onion, the fish is grilled until medium-rare. (Buy the fish deboned to make your life easier.) The salmon can be prepared up to 24 hours in advance, left to cool in the refrigerator and served chilled the next day, making it an ideal buffet dish for an outdoor gathering. For a wine pairing, O’Connell said, “We’d have my favorite picnic wine in the whole world, which is Domaine Tempier Bandol rosé. It’s soft, and absolutely luscious and lets the salmon shine.”
A Perfect Match Recipe: Buttermilk-Basil Panna Cotta with Balsamic-Roasted Berry Sorbet and Orange Oil
Flavorful, decadent and refreshing all at once, this excellent panna cotta is also visually stunning, making it an ideal way to close out a dinner party. The brainchild of chef Angela Tamura of Pèppoli Restaurant, a Wine Spectator Best of Award of Excellence winner at California’s Pebble Beach Resorts, the dish layers unexpected but straightforward techniques over good-quality grocery-store ingredients. The effect is showstopping: Creamy, tangy, basil-and-buttermilk panna cotta is poured into a bowl and chilled, then topped with a drizzle of orange-infused olive oil and a scoop or two of sorbet made from roasted berries and balsamic vinegar. Perhaps best of all, the recipe is eminently flexible. (For example, swap the berries in the sorbet for apricots or peaches.) “Don’t feel committed to have to do every part of it if you’re just getting into it for the first time,” Tamura advises. “Just pick one thing and go from there.”
Rather than pair this with a white dessert wine, Tamura and sommelier Paige Bindel went with a dry sparkling rosé from Italy’s Franciacorta region, known for its Champagne-method bubblies. The dessert’s creamy sweetness and the wine’s countervailing acidity and effervescence strike a bold balance, while the berry notes in the wine highlight the fruit flavors of the sorbet.