Grilled Chicken and Rosé, of Course, for #winePW

After missing several Wine Pairing Weekend get-togethers we are back with our monthly food and wine pairing group of bloggers. We missed everyone! Camilla, who blogs at Culinary Adventures with Camilla, challenged us to fire up the grill and devise a food and wine paring. No problem, we love to grill and do so quite often when the weather is nice.

Something else we do quite often is drink rosé – regardless of the weather. I’m one of those people who enjoys rosé all year long. When the weather is hot I find rosé refreshing, when the weather is cold and rainy it is my substitute for sunshine. And because June 10, the day our #winePW group will gather on Twitter to chat about our food and wine parings, is National Rosé Day (#NationalRoséDay) I just had to choose rosé to pair with our grilled meal. So, for this pairing we started with the wine and then made our grilling choice.

Both rosés we chose for this paring are new to us, though we have tasted rosé from both regions before. We decided to grill chicken, a safe choice we figured, and to pair it with couscous salad. Here’s how it all unfolded.

The Food

Chicken and couscous salad
Though we often grill chicken – usually whole, spatchcocked or pieces – we rarely grill skewered chicken. So, to change our approach a bit, that’s what we tried. I chopped two chicken breasts (I always buy chicken from Mary’s Chicken Free Range Chickens) into 1-inch cubes and cut several small spring onions in half to add to the skewers. The marinade I used is one the owner of a wonderful Italian restaurant gave me years ago. She just gave me the ingredients, not the amounts. I never measure anything and you don’t need to either, but here is a guide.

Lemon Basil Marinade for Chicken Skewers

  • zest of one lemon
  • juice of one lemon
  • 1 clove of garlic, minced
  • 8 basil leaves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 chicken breasts, cut to 1-inch dice
  • 1 red onion, quartered, with slices separated

Note: we have a lemon tree in our yard so the lemons I use are always plump and juicy. If the lemons you buy at the market are not as big and juicy you may need two. Use the zest from both lemons.


  1. Add all ingredients, except the chicken and spring onions, to a glass mixing bowl and whisk to combine.
  2. Add cubed chicken and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.
  3. Begin skewer with a piece of onion, then several pieces of chicken and onion. Repeat, ending with a piece of onion to keep the chicken in place.
  4. Grill 12 – 15 minutes, turning every 3 minutes, until juices run clear.

As I write this it occurs to me I don’t have a recipe for the couscous salad either. Oh well, same deal here, I just estimate everything, so here is my estimated recipe for the salad. I often substitute orzo or regular couscous for pearl couscous.

Pearl Couscous Salad

  • 1 1/2 cups pearl couscous cooked according to package instructions
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 red onion, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup pine nuts, toasted in a dry frying pan until light brown
  • 10 leaves basil, finely chopped
  • 3 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • salt and pepper to taste


  1. Transfer cooked pearl couscous to a colander and rinse with cool water. Drain water completely.
  2. Stir in oil and vinegar.
  3. Add red bell pepper, red onion, pine nuts, basil and feta cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well.
  4. Taste and adjust seasoning, oil and vinegar as desired.

The Wine

Girolamo Russo Etna Rosato2015 Girolamo Russo Etna Rosatotranslucent copper in the glass with generous dusty earth, minerals and blackberry aromas. Earthy blackberry and dusty gravel flavors combine with a grating of citrus zest for a refreshing taste. Tongue-tingling acidity keeps this wine bright and super refreshing. Light tannins lend texture. The finish is at least moderate in length. 12.5% abv. $35

It would be easy to underestimate this wine, but there is a lot going on here if you pay attention. I love the combination of fruit and interesting, earthy flavors in this wine made from Nerello Mascalese at the northern foot of Mt. Etna in Sicily. The vineyards, some of which are 100 years old, are farmed organically. Yay!

Chateau dAqueria Tavel2016 Château d’Aqueria Taveltranslucent, bright raspberry in the glass with generous strawberry, raspberry and blackberry aromas. A medley of berry flavors are backed by woodsy, damp earth and citrus. Very light tannins contribute texture to the lingering finish which is bright and clean. I think there is more acidity here than immediately evident due to the generous fruit flavors.14% abv. $21.99

Don’t look at the color of this rosé and think soda pop. It’s not. The Southern Rhône appellation of Tavel takes rosé seriously. Only rosé may be made in this warm, dry, rocky appellation. This rosé is a blend of Grenache Noir, Clairette, Cinsault, Mourvèdre, Syrah, Bourboulenc. It is no shrinking violet; more like the like of the party.

These two rosés are different in appearance and flavor. Variety is one of the things I most enjoy about drinking rosé and it is on full display with these two wines. We purchased both wines on a recent trip to Santa Barbara. Whenever we travel by car we comb wine shops for new and interesting wines. These are two from that trip.

The Pairing

Delizioso! The chicken was tender, juicy and a bit citrusy with hints of garlic and basil. The salad was alive with the flavor of basil and toasted pine nuts. This is a perfect example of simple cooking made delicious with the addition of fresh ingredients – lemons and basil.

The pairing
Both wines were delicious with our meal, but very different. The Girolamo Russo Etna Rosato stood toe-to-toe with the food in terms of acidity. The mineral flavors of the wine were accentuated as was the acidity with this food pairing. The Château d’Aqueria Tavel was much more fruity and gave the meal a rounder, less lean and acidic taste. A really interesting pairing. We decided we would prefer to drink the Girolamo Russo Etna Rosato while preparing the meal and the Château d’Aqueria Tavel with the meal.

The rest of the Wine Pairing Weekend bloggers have also grilled something for everyone. The list looks delicious.

We will gather on Twitter at 8 am Pacific Time, Saturday, June 10 to talk food and wine. Follow #winePW and join us to share your favorite grilled food pairings with wine.



  1. Great stuff, on my to-make list!

    I visited Château d’Aqueria in Tavel last year and very much enjoyed the experience. A truly beautiful property.

    Great post!

  2. The best meals in life are the simpler ones.

    Like you said, the Tavel is a perfect choice for the meal. The rose has enough fruit to stand to the salty taste of the feta in the salad and the smoky flavours of the breasts.

    Buon Appetito

  3. Michelle Williams

    This meal looks light and delicious. Perfect for a hot summer’s eve.

  4. Very interesting and unusual wines! Love the recipes and the presentation too! My spouse loves chicken so we’ll have to give this a try. One thing I love about skewers is that they are flexible! I’m not an onion or bell pepper fas so I don’t need to even put them on mine!

  5. Yesterday I was thinking about how wonderful it would be to try a rosé made from Nerello Mascalese. Do they even exist? And here is your post, describing one in all its deliciousness! Can’t wait to track down a bottle and try it with that scrumptious marinade. Bet it would be awesome on swordfish, which we get locally year-round. Thanks Nancy!

  6. Thanks for sharing your marinade, Nancy. I’ll definitely give it a try. I’ll be it would also be great with grilled shrimp!

  7. what a delicious summer meal! Good solution in terms of the wines, one for the cooking and one for eating!

  8. Pingback: Grilled Steak and Onions #winePW | Cooking Chat

  9. I can’t wait to try that marinade….and I do believe we have a rose wine pw coming up very soon.

  10. Thanks for joining me this month! I have had other wines by Girolamo Russo, but not that one. I will have to see if I can get my hands on a bottle. And I can’t wait to try your grilled chicken recipe. It sounds delightfully summery.

    • It was a pleasure. Grilling is lots of fun for us. It’s so funny that you’ve had other Girolamo Russo wines, but not the rosé. It’s the only one I think we have had! Now I will be looking for others. Cheers, and thanks for hosting this month!