Healthy White & Rosé Wine and Food Pairing Ideas with Recipes

With an eye towards getting back in shape this year after COVID, we’ve been thinking about wine and how it fits in as part of a healthy lifestyle. Moderation, of course, is key, and wine is always best when shared with friends and family over a relaxed meal. Unfortunately, many recommended pairings tend to be heavy on meat, cheese, and creamy sauces, which may not be the most helpful as we lean towards healthier habits.

Spices come in handy when we rethink pairings, as do a variety of textures. The following pairings are mostly vegetarian but proteins can be swapped in and out according to personal preference.

Pinot Grigio

Spanish style shrimp

Sauté fresh shrimp in olive oil, as much garlic as you can handle, sweet paprika, a dash of crushed red pepper, and a pinch of saffron. Cook through and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with salad and crusty bread.

Why it works: The sweetness of fresh shrimp extracts the fruit from Pinot Grigio, and the spice combination challenges it. Pinot Grigio goes from a one-note song to a chorus!


Orange ginger marinaded sea bass with mango salsa

Combine fresh orange juice, orange and lemon zest, freshly grated ginger, and olive oil in a bowl and whisk well to combine it. Marinade sea bass for an hour or two. Grill the fish and boil the remaining marinade down to thicken it up. Pour the marinade over grilled bass. 

Chop up fresh mango, corn kernels off the cob, and toss with sweet onion, celery, cilantro, and olive oil. Serve salsa on top of steaks.

Why it works: The orange-ginger marinade highlights Pinot Grigio’s citrus with just enough heat. The mango-corn-cilantro combination provides a medley of notes to highlight the wine’s greenness and its bright fruit notes.


RELATED: Top Sommeliers Explain Pairing Wines With Asian Food


Broccoli carrot slaw

Slaws are infinitely modifiable and are a must for outdoor meals. Shred broccoli and carrot and combine. In a separate bowl, whisk Greek yogurt, rice vinegar, and olive oil to combine before pouring over veggies. Season any way you like – standard salt & pepper, or a pinch of nutmeg and white pepper.

Why it works: Pinot Grigio isn’t overly acidic, so it’s a pleasant balance with a lightly creamy slaw dressing. Broccoli pulls out those stonier notes while carrot plays off the fruit. This recipe is fun to experiment with because it can change the wine depending on how it’s seasoned.


Sauvignon Blanc

Sushi rice salad

In a rice cooker, cook sushi rice per instructions. Allow to cool in a shallow pan and toss with rice vinegar and mirin. Chop up carrot, cucumber, scallion, and pickled ginger and toss with rice to combine. Whisk together wasabi, water, and soy sauce as a thin dressing and add to salad to combine.

Why it works: Sushi is a natural partner for Sauvignon Blanc, particularly when soy and ginger are involved. Look for those savory umami notes, punctuated by ginger. Protein, like shrimp, can be added as well.


Lemon fennel mussels

Sauté minced garlic, diced fennel, and lemon zest in olive oil before adding in white wine and a squeeze of lemon juice. Bring to a gentle boil before adding in mussels. Cook until mussels are opened and serve with crusty bread for sopping.

Why it works: Mussels are a culinary wunderkind because there are so many ways to make them. The sweetness of the mussels plays well with the citrus zing of lemon and Sauvignon Blanc, while the fennel compliments more savory notes.


Pasta primavera

Pasta primavera makes use of all fresh veggies, so choose a combination of your favorites. Dice and sauté in olive oil until tender-crisp. Add in freshly cooked pasta and some reserved cooking water or more olive oil if it’s dry.

Why it works: Pasta primavera doesn’t have to be cheese-laden – focus on all of the glorious vegetables instead of the pasta and the cheese. Fresh veggies are natural partners for Sauvignon Blanc because it’s such a bright and fresh wine.


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Chardonnay

Brie & Fuji apple panini

Slice a baguette horizontally and brush lightly with olive oil. Place under the broiler for just long enough to crisp a little. Thinly slice the apple and layer it over each half of the bread. Pop back under the broiler for another minute to slightly cook the apples. Then layer thin slices of brie or a triple cream cheese over the apples. Grill until the cheese is melty and then crack fresh pepper over the top. (This can also be made with a panini press).

Why it works: Balancing out the creaminess of the cheese with loads of apples makes this a healthier twist on grilled cheese and doesn’t require loads of extra butter for frying. The simplicity allows Chardonnay’s creaminess and apple notes to be enhanced without any intrusion.


Walnut-apricot-barley salad

Cook barley and cool. Dice walnuts and dried apricots and tear up flavorful greens like watercress before combining with barley. For the dressing, whisk olive oil, Dijon mustard, and apple cider vinegar until combined. Adjust seasoning before adding to barley mixture and combining.

Why it works: Chardonnay loves autumnal notes, and I can’t think of an earthier, more autumnal note than barley. Walnuts and apricots play off the earthy-fruity character of Chardonnay, and watercress provides light bitterness for contrast.


Mushroom stroganoff

Sauté onion and mushrooms down in just enough butter before adding white wine to deglaze. Simmer just a bit. In a separate bowl, whisk vegetable stock with soy sauce and flour. Whisk into mushroom mixture, and then add in light sour cream. Adjust seasoning, and then add in fresh cooked pasta.

Why it works: This is best with a leaner Chardonnay like Chablis because of the earthy notes in it. Chablis’ acidity also works really well with the sour cream, though the sauce is much lighter (and healthier) than a traditional stroganoff.


RELATED: Healthy Red Wine and Food Pairings: Delicious Dishes and Recipes


Rosé Wine Pairings

Salade Niçoise

Hard boil eggs and allow to completely cool before quartering. Meanwhile, trim green beans and parboil until tender-crisp and set aside. Wash and cut up red leaf lettuce, cherry tomatoes and fresh radishes. Drain a can of oil-packed tuna. Slice oil-cured black olives. Whisk together olive oil, Dijon mustard, white wine vinegar, and herbs de Provence and adjust with salt and pepper. On a large platter, arrange the salad with a base of lettuce and topped with the various components. Dress the salad in advance or with each serving.

Why it works: Like other recipes here, there are many variations and we’ve skipped boiled potatoes here to lighten the recipe up a bit. Salade Niçoise’s many components work with rosé’s fruitiness and acidity and provide a subtle balance of flavor without overpowering the wine.


Squash and tomato gratin

Sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, then added chopped summer squash and cook until tender. Added can of San Marzano tomatoes or freshly peeled and seeded tomatoes. Add herbs de Provence and salt and pepper. Stir in cooked farro and combine. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk eggs and grated gruyere before adding in vegetable combination. Pour into a shallow gratin dish and added thinly sliced tomatoes across the top. Bake at 375F for 45 minutes or until set and cooked through.

Why it works: Farro provides a nice bit of chew without loads of carbs, and the fresh tomatoes and squash work well with rosé’s summery character. Go as light on the cheese as you like and swap out gruyere for other types depending on what type of rosé you’re serving. (For example, crumbled chevre would work with a rosé of Pinot Noir).


Tomato bread salad

Sauté onion, garlic, and jalapeno in olive oil until soft, and then added chopped tomatoes, paprika, cayenne, cumin, allspice, and black pepper. Add some water as needed and cook until the tomatoes blend together. Allow to totally cool. To serve, add crusty bread to bowls and spoon tomato mixture on top, adding a dollop of Greek yogurt to finish.

Why it works: Go with a fuller-bodied rosé for this one! A slight chill will allow the bolder fruit notes to enhance the spice combination. The fuller body of the rosé will stand up to the tomatoes and yogurt without getting lost.


We wine people can spend way too much mental energy on pairings. All of the dishes mentioned are general guidelines but hopefully will inspire lightening up tried-and-true pairings. And as always, the most important thing is conviviality over a meal. There’s nothing healthier than that!

Additional Wine & Food Pairing Articles:

How To Pair Wines With Asian Food

Great Comfort Food & Wine Pairings

Pairing Bordeaux Wines With Food


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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jamie Elizabeth Metzgar began her career in wine by pouring in a tasting room on the East End of Long Island, NY. After moving to New York City, she landed a position at Chambers Street Wines where she was encouraged to pursue wine education at the Wine & Spirits Education Trust (WSET). She earned Level III certification there and has since earned California Wine Appellation Specialist and Certified Specialist of Wine certifications as well. After way too many moves, she is now nestled along the Central Coast in California where she is compiling an unofficial roster of dog-friendly tasting rooms.

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