Pairing Shrimp with Washington Rosé

While there are many wines that work well with shrimp dishes, the range in styles of Rosés produced in Washington provides some intriguing options for pairings with shrimp dishes.

By Dr. Robert Harrington

Warmer weather brings my thoughts to outdoor grilling and consuming Rosé while enjoying the season.  A simple pairing with Washington Rosé could be a grilled hot dog with mustard or grilled pork tenderloin rubbed with herbs and garlic. 

Recently, as the Rosé season approached, I became a bit obsessed with pairing Washington Rosé with various preparations of shrimp.  For personal pairings, the liking level of the food item and the liking level of the wine are important drivers of perceptions of successful matches. 

So, while there are many wines that work well with shrimp dishes, the range in styles of Rosés produced in Washington provides some intriguing questions for pairings with shrimp dishes.  Rosés vary in color, sweetness (dry, off-dry and semi-sweet), crispness and body.  Washington Rosé is produced from a number of varietals impacting color, acidity levels and mouthfeel – everything from Pinot Gris, Sangiovese, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec.

Shrimp dishes can vary substantially based on seasoning, cooking method, and other ingredients to impact pairing decisions.  Poached shrimp are likely to work better with crisp white wines such as Chenin Blanc, Chardonnay (no oak) or others.  For grilled shrimp, oaked Chardonnay, Viognier and Rosé from Syrah or Malbec are likely better choices due to oak and smoke flavors or equal partners in body.

Using my shrimp and Rosé obsession, below are some recipes for shrimp preparations and Rosé recommendations.  Of course, other Rosés can be substituted, but the ideal pairing will require thinking through how the shrimp preparation and other elements (Citrus? Fruit? Spice?) are likely to interact with the wine element. 

Lightly Smoked Shrimp with Avocado and Tomato

This is a good seasonal dish that can serve as a starter, light lunch or light main course.


1 lb. – 16-20 shrimp

1 large, ripe avocado

2-3 oz. Citrus vinaigrette (see the next recipe as an example that can be used for other variations)

1 ½ cups – fresh, diced tomatoes (preferably from the garden or farmer’s market)

Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons pesto or chopped herbs

Salt and black pepper

Sea salt to taste


1. Prepare citrus vinaigrette; rinse shrimp and marinate in vinaigrette for several hours or overnight.  Remove from marinade; place on a cedar plank that has been soaked in water for at least 30 minutes. Place on grill with lid closed and grill for about 10 minutes (exact cooking time depends on the size of shrimp and temperature of the grill) – until just cooked through.  At this point, the shrimp can be allowed to cool to room temperature or chilled under refrigeration before serving.

2. Peel and devein shrimp and reserve; Combine diced tomatoes with pesto or chopped herbs, about 1 Tablespoon of EVOO, ½ Tablespoon of balsamic, salt and black pepper to taste.

3. Cut avocado in half; remove and discard pit – then scoop out avocado flesh from each half, keeping it intact.  Slice the avocado; then arrange the tomato mixture as a base and alternate avocado slices and shrimp.

4. Drizzle with a little EVOO and balsamic; finish with sea salt, black pepper and edible flowers (if desired). 

With the buttery mouthfeel of the avocado, your pairing choice could be to use a Rosé with more mouthfeel to serve as a balanced partner or one that is nicely crisp to refresh the palate.

Recommended wine pairing with this recipe:

Julia’s Dazzle Rosé (2016, $18-25) – Long Shadows, 100% Pinot Gris.  This pairing uses a crisp foil for the buttery avocado and stands up to the vinaigrette in the tomato.  This Rosé is unique in that it uses 100% Pinot Gris; this wine is lively with bright and cheery aromas and ripe strawberry flavors.  The racy acidity and off-dry finish create an interesting contrast with the light smoke and complements the natural sweetness in the shrimp and vine-ripened tomatoes.

Charles & Charles 2017 Rosé ($12-$15), predominately Syrah). Given the Syrah grapes used in this Rosé, the wine has a plush mouthfeel that stands up to the buttery avocado.  The strawberry and melon aromas, along with notes of Herbs de Provence and citrus, provide additional laying of flavors with this dish. 

Planked Rosemary-Skewered Shrimp with Grilled Blood Oranges


1 lb – 16-20 shrimp

4 pieces of fresh rosemary (each about 5-6 inches in length)

3 each blood oranges, pared and sliced or segmented

Citrus vinaigrette

* Juice of 1 lime

* Juice of 1 orange

* ½ teaspoon dry mustard

* 2 Tablespoons Extra virgin olive oil

* Pinch cayenne pepper

* 2 Tablespoons chopped basil

* 1 Tablespoon chopped mint

* Salt and black pepper to taste

Cedar plank


1. Combine citrus vinaigrette ingredients; rinse shrimp, peel and devein – then marinate in vinaigrette for 1 hour.  Soak the cedar plank in water for 30 minutes.

2. Remove the shrimp from the marinade; place on a cedar plank alternating with blood orange slices. Place on the pre-heated BBQ grill with lid closed and grill for about 10 minutes (exact cooking time depends on shrimp size and grill temperature) – until just cooked through.  

3. Finish with sea salt, black pepper and edible flowers (if desired). It can be served as is or accompanied by other items (I added roasted asparagus and jasmine rice).

Recommended wine pairing with this recipe:

Terra Blanca Arch Terrace Rosé (2016, $18) 66% Sangiovese 34% Cabernet Franc – Flavors of strawberries, citrus, and rose petals provide a good match with planked shrimp and blood oranges. This Rosé is dry with good acidity and medium-bodied within the Rosé wine typology.  A good match with the light-smoke on this shrimp dish, herb flavors and additional textures.

Browne Family Vineyards Grenache Rosé 2016 ($16-$22) – This variation uses 100% Grenache resulting in flavors of strawberries (my preference are those fresh from the garden still with light dust for a slight earthy or mineral character). It also retains good acidity, has a light mouthfeel and slight pepper on the mid-palate.  This pairing provides good refreshment and layering of herbs, spice and tangy red fruit.

Martinez & Martinez May Mae Rose ($20), 100% Cabernet Sauvignon – This Rosé has more body given that it is derived from Cabernet and provides a complementary touch of mint along with red fruits such as bing cherries and strawberries. The slight sweetness and refreshingly crisp finish pairs with the natural sweetness in the shrimp and oranges and interesting contrasts with the rosemary and slight smoke in the dish.

Chilled Shrimp with Curry-Mint Cream and Fresh Melon

The key to successful execution of this shrimp dish is ensuring the melons are perfectly ripe and the curry-mint cream is thickened to lightly coat the poached shrimp.

12 small appetizer portions 


2 lbs 26/30 shrimp, poached (water, white wine, lemon, lemon balm, dill weed, chives and peppercorns), then peeled and deveined 

1 each, honeydew, cut into balls  

1 each cantaloupe, cut into balls 

3oz. heavy cream 

½ tsp. curry powder (or to taste) 

1 Tbls fresh mint, finely chopped 

Sea salt & Pepper, to taste 


1. Poach shrimp and allow to cool, peel and devein and reserve until ready to assemble. 

2. Lightly whip cream with a whisk until the consistency of a light sauce, season to taste with curry powder, sea salt, pepper and fresh mint. 

3. Toss shrimp in curry-cream mixture; season melon balls with sea salt and mint. 

4. Assemble melon mixture and shrimp mixture on plate or in bowl for service.

Recommended wine pairing with this recipe:

2016 Kamiak Windust White ($8) – Ok, this is not a Rosé, but we paired this wine with this dish at Gordon Estates with good results. It is a blend of Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and a bit of Gewurztraminer; the resulting wine has tropical aromas of guava, pineapple, melons and lime.  The light-bodied mouthfeel, lively acidity and sweet spices create a balance with the shrimp and melon, provides a nice palate cleanse and creates layers of spices – cardamom and ginger in the wine with light curry and mint in the sauce.

Millbrandt Rose 2016 ($13) – This dry Rosé combines Syrah and Tempranillo to create flavors of red grapefruit, pomegranate and savory herbs. These characteristics complement this dish providing lively acidity, a nice rounded taste of fruit, and fresh herbal and spice layers.

Sorbet of Rosé, Rose Petals and Rosemary, Garnished with Candied Rose Hips 

Sometimes there is nothing better than a sorbet to cleanse the palate or provide a light finish to a meal on warm summer nights.  In my mind, a discussion about Rosés wouldn’t be complete without presenting the idea of creating a Rosé sorbet.  For this recipe, I combined a Rosé of Malbec with lemon juice, rose petals and a hint of rosemary.  Rose hips have many uses; for this recipe, I candied them and used them to garnish the sorbet (simmered in simple syrup until evaporated and then packed in sugar).  The Rosé of Malbec seemed to be strong flavored enough to support the flavors from the rose petals and rosemary as well as providing good flavor and color in the finished sorbet.

Ingredients:  Makes 5 cups.

2 cups (gently packed) rose-petals (pesticide free) 

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons superfine sugar 

½ cup cold water 

2 ½ cups cold water 

2 tsp fresh rosemary (two small sprigs) 

3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1 cup rosé wine 

Candied rose hips and lemon peel for garnish 


1. Steep rosemary in 2 ½ cups water, allow to cool thoroughly 

2. Process the rose petals with the sugar in a food processor until the mixture turns into a smooth paste, about 30 seconds; stop to scrape down the sides as necessary.  

3. Add 1/2 cup of the water and process for about 10 seconds.  

4. Add the remaining 2 1/2 cups rosemary/water, the lemon juice, and rosé.  

5. Pour the liquid through a fine sieve.  

6. Freeze the mixture in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s directions

7. To serve, scoop sorbet into a cup, drizzle with some remaining Rose and garnish as desired (with rose petals, lemon zest or candied rose hips).

Recommended wine pairing with this recipe:

Gordon Estates Rosé of Malbec, 2016 (about $20) – This Rosé is dry with aromas of strawberry jam along with floral notes and citrus. It retains good acidity and medium-bodied mouthfeel. When preparing the Rose, you can adjust the amount of sugar and lemon juice to meet your personal tastes and the residual sugar and acidity in the wine itself.

Hamilton Cellars 2015 Rosé of Malbec ($20) – This Rosé of Malbec also makes a great sorbet; it has flavors of strawberries and cherries and some additional spiciness.  It provided more color than the Gordon Estates version but both Rosés were delicious when finished.

EDITOR’S NOTE:  Dr. Robert Harrington is Professor in Hospitality Business Management at Washington State University’s Tri-Cities Campus.  He is the author of the book, “Food and Wine Pairing: A Sensory Experience.”  His current teaching and research interests include food and drink pairing, creating memorable experiences and culinary innovation.