May 2015

Food & Wine - The Case for Rosé: Pairs Well with the Lowcountry

Author: Clayton Rollison

Being from Hilton Head, I often get, “No way. You are a local? No one is from here.” After their look of amazement and confusion, the next question is usually, “What was it like growing up here?” and “What a wonderful life it must be.”’

At this point, if I am lucky, I am able to sum it up in less than two minutes to someone from the Midwest with a five-day sunburn. We aren’t unicorns; there are a lot of us. We just tend not to boast.

One day, in conversation with a wine distributor, we were discussing this very thing; and both being wine geeks, we began debating a wine paring for “The Lowcountry.” We set up some parameters—please remember these rules/thoughts/opinions are made up by people who serve supper for a living and sell booze. We are not historians, sociologists, satirist, or anthropologists. Our main credential is knowing how to solve the world’s problems, one bottle of wine at a time.

With these as the guidelines, I am going to take a crack at this and suggest that Rosé is the lifestyle wine of the Lowcountry. Before you judge, let’s clear this up. Yes, at six-feet-two-inches tall and 275 pounds on a good day, I am choosing a pink wine. Proper Rosé is not that pink sugar water you see in a box or in a giant bottle at the grocery store. It can be made from any red varietal, but most common are Syrah, Grenache, Mourvèdre, Cinsault, and Carignane. These are all robust reds from the Rhone Valley in France. What makes these big reds “pink” is that, when pressed, the juice spends less than a day in contact with the skins. Rosés are not aged in oak barrels either.

What does this mean for the wine? Without all the oak and skin contact, what’s left is a wine that has bright fruit, high acidity and pairs with fish, shellfish, pork, chicken, smoked meats—and all kinds of weather. Yep, that part of having a cool glass of refreshing wine is a must in the Lowcountry. Being able to pair a single wine with whatever you may be cooking is a huge win.

I do not need to discuss how a sundress, sandals, a curvy wine glass, and chilled pink wine is fitting for a lady of the South. Gentlemen, I know what you are thinking: “I’m not going to drink some pink sweet wine.” Number one, it’s not sweet; and number two, if you are walking around in salmon colored pants or if you’ve ever worn a seersucker suit and bow tie, you have the confidence to drink pink wine.

Lounging on the dock, bellied up to an oyster roast table, out on the sandbar, getting off the golf course, swinging in a hammock reading a Pat Conroy novel all screams Rosé. It is Lowcountry wine. 

The criteria:
• What is a Lowcountry state of mind?
• What is Lowcountry cuisine?
• What is Lowcountry music?
• What is the Lowcountry look?
• What is the landscape or “terroir” of the Lowcountry?


Marinated Eggplant

2 Eggplants, Peeled & Cut into 1/4 inch round slices
3 Cups Water
1 1/2 Cups White Wine Vinegar
1 TBS Minced Garlic
1 TSP Dried Oregano
1 1/2 Cups Olive Oil, Divided

- Crusty Italian Bread
- Sundried Tomatoes, julianned
- Fresh Mozzarella, Thickly Sliced
- Fresh Basil, coarsely chopped

Toss the eggplant in 1/4 kosher salt and allow to drain in a collander in the sink for about twox hours. Discard liquid.

Bring water and vinegar to a boil in a medium pot. Add eggplant and boil, stirring occasionally unitl tender, two to three minutes. Drain in a colander. Set a plate or a smaller sized bowl over the eggplant and place a large, heavy can over the plate to act as a weight. (I use a large can of whole peeled tomatoes). Continue to drain, covered and chilled, 8-12 hours. Discard liquid in bowl.

Stir together eggplant, garlic, oregano, 1/2 tsp pepper and one cup of olive oil in a bowl.
Transfer to a mason jar and pour remaining olive oil up to the top to cover. Marinate at least four hours to marry flavors.


Cucumber Cooler

Muddle together:
4 mint leaves
4 cucumber slices
25 Oz fresh lemon juice

then add:
1.25 oz Bombay Sapphire East Gin .25 oz St. Germain

Double strain over ice and top with a soda water floater.

Special thanks to Jason Oliver (our fav bartender) at The Porch for this AWESOMELY, REFRESHING summer cocktail. Make sure you say hi to Jason when you visit The Porch this summer!

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