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Pasta au Gratin + Ste. Venture Aix en Provençe Rosé #Winophiles

To kick off the French Winophiles' 2022 calendar, we are heading to Provençe with Jill of L’Occasion. If you are reading this early enough, feel free to jump in on our Twitter chat. We are live at 8am Pacific on Saturday, January 15th. Follow the hashtag #Winophiles; and be sure to add that to anything you tweet so we can see it. Here are the articles that the writers are sharing...

A Confession

I admit: I used to overlook Rosés.  They were pink and, I thought, just a diluted form of red wine; I don't remember if I actually thought that, but the only pink wines I'd tried were White Zinfandels and those were so cloyingly sweet. I didn't take them seriously. What a mistake on my part! I am so happy to have explored true Rosés and expanded my view of these incredibly food-friendly wines.

How Is It Made?

In hue, Rosés sit in the middle of the white-red wine color spectrum. And, as I thought, maybe people think that Rosé is a blend of finished red and white wines.  It's not.  

Rosés are actually made by shortening the grape skin contact that's necessary for making red wine. stage. To make Rosé, red grapes are lightly crushed and left to macerate with their skins for a few days. When the winemaker is satisfied with the resulting color, the skin, pips, and stems are removed. Common grape varietals used for Rosés are Grenache, Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Tempranillo.

So, I've discovered that Rosés have the body and sometimes structure of a red wine.  But they are usually served chilled and are refreshing like a white wine. It's actually the best of both worlds in my mind...and absolutely perfect for summertime suppers. I know it's January, but we hit the mid-80s this week which is ridiculously hot for this time of year.

In the Glass
So, I already admitted that Rosés were not on my radar for a long time. If you are also in that camp, I concede that there are some truly atrocious Rosés out there. Way too sweet, but typically American-made. Sorry. It's just true. If you're game to pour, I suggest bone-dry Provençal Rosés!

For this month's exploration, I poured a bottle of Ste. Venture Aix en Provençe Rosé that I picked up at Whole Foods for less than $15. This wine is made by Charles Bieler and is made from sustainably grown grapes grown in the high altitude hills around Aix en Provençe,

The wine pours a pale salmon hue and has aromas and flavors of fresh red fruit. However its crisp acidity bring a bright freshness to the wine that made it beautifully food friendly and able to pair with a heavier, cheese-laden dish.

In the Ramekin

You can made a cheese sauce a number of different ways. This is my go-to, especially on a busy weeknight because it doesn't require making a roux to thicken the sauce; the process is more like a savory ganache.

Cheese Sauce
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2-1/2 cups shredded cheese (I used asiago, white cheddar, and parmesan)
  • 1 cup fresh ricotta
  • Also needed: saucepan, balloon whisk
For Serving
  • Cooked pasta
  • Also needed: ramekins and 1/2 more shredded cheese

Cheese Sauce
Place buttermilk in a saucepan and bring to a simmer over medium heat. Once the buttermilk starts to steam around the rim, add in the shredded cheese. Remove from heat and let stand for three minutes. Whisk till smooth and fold in fresh ricotta.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.

Stir cooked pasta into the cheese sauce. Fold in the fresh ricotta and, then, divide into individual serving dishes; I used ramekins. Spoon about a Tablespoon of shredded cheese over the top and place the ramekins on a baking sheet and into the oven.

Bake until the cheese on the top is melted and beginning to brown. Serve immediately.

I served my Pasta au Gratin with some blistered green beans...and, of course, the wine. What a delicious dinner. 

That's a wrap for the January #Winophiles. Stay tuned for next month when Wendy of A Day in the Life on the Farm host us with a little romantic inspiration. We are tasked with writing about a pairing that means romance to us. Thinking cap is on! Stay tuned.


  1. I honed right in on your cheese sauce. Noted! The easier method and lack of making a roux is definitely preferred. Nice pairing!


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