Côtes du Rhône is a French red wine, grown in the Rhône valley. What separates it from the typical wine bottles you find, is that a Côtes du Rhône can be blended with up to 23 different varietals of grapes. A red Côtes du Rhône could even include white grapes in the blend. Finally, upwards of 20 million cases of Côtes du Rhône are produced every year.
While there can be a wide variety of styles to a Côtes du Rhône they generally have one thing in common; Côtes du Rhône are meant to elevate a meal. Furthermore, just because 23 different varietals can be used, producers use typically about 5, with the dominant grape being Grenache. Syrah, Mourvèdre, and Carignan are three other grapes that may be blended in, or produced as single varietals.
You should also be aware of Côtes du Rhône Villages. This refers to 75 villages within the Rhône region, which are proven to have superior vineyards for growing grapes. These wines have a bit more complexity and depth, plus the potential to be aged about three to six years.
Côtes du Rhône (red wine) and Food
When pairing Côtes du Rhône with food, it’s best to stick to simple foods that can be enhanced by the wine. Côtes du Rhône is a medium-bodied red with a fruity yet subtle earthy quality that makes it incredibly food-friendly. Braised beef, petite filet, pizza, roasted chicken, grilled tuna and chili are our top choices.
Braised Beef & Côtes du Rhône
Côtes du Rhône is my go to cooking wine. It’s not overly fruity, it’s dry but not high in alcohol, and it’s not too tannic. It would only make sense that if I were braising a beef using Côtes du Rhône, I would pair it up later with a nice glass of the same wine.
With Braised Beef, you are introducing all these other elements, like garlic, olives, cloves, peppercorns, and other spices like Rosemary, Basil and Oregano. Côtes du Rhône earthy nature will complement these earthy vegetables, while the lighthearted fruity character will come across as refreshing.
The golden rule of cooking with wine is to never use a wine you wouldn’t drink on its own, and Côtes du Rhône fits that bill as it’s not an expensive wine. For that reason, Côtes du Rhône is also an amazing wine to cook and pair with Braised Beef Short Ribs.
Roasted Chicken & Côtes du Rhône Pairing
What I love about Roasted Chicken is the crisp skin, and the juicy meat within. Côtes du Rhône is a natural pairing as the earthy veil just loves the crispy skin, while the fruity finish elevates the tender meat inside. Even better, this isn’t a boozy wine, so it’s perfect for a light lunch or picnic consisting of a rotisserie chicken picked up at a supermarket.
Pizza & Côtes du Rhône Pairing
Much like a Côtes du Rhône, there’s a lot of variety to pizza. However, with Côtes du Rhône so food friendly, you’d be hard to find a pizza that it won’t stand up to. Like we mentioned before Côtes du Rhône elevates food, and this is exactly what it does for pizza.
Typically your first slice of pizza is delicious, and by the time you hit your second slice, you’re just feeding your bodies cravings for carbs, fat, and calories. With a handy glass of Côtes du Rhône nearby, you’ll probably indulge a lot less. Côtes du Rhône causes you to slow down, appreciate the meal and savour the moment.
The earthy backdrop of the wine will pair beautifully with any mushrooms or meat on your pizza, such as pepperoni. Furthermore, Côtes du Rhône, which isn’t high in tannin, won’t clash with the tomato sauce. Wines high in tannin tend to make tomato sauce taste like tin, while a wine like Côtes du Rhône will make the tomato (and cheese flavours you never noticed before) sing.
Grilled Tuna & Côtes du Rhône
Côtes du Rhône is the perfect summer wine and is incredible with a BBQ Grilled Tuna Steak. The earthy nature of this red wine loves the charred flavours of the BBQ, while the fruity tastes make this wine incredibly refreshing on a warm summer evening.
Chili & Côtes du Rhône Pairing
Why we love Côtes du Rhône with Chili is that Côtes du Rhône is not an expensive red. Furthermore, Côtes du Rhône isn’t overly heavy in alcohol, this is important as any hot spices in the Chili will be enhanced with the addition of alcohol. Instead, Côtes du Rhône is medium-bodied, and fruity, which is a nice contrast against a heavy Chili and it will come off as refreshing. The earthy quality of the wine will complement the earthy flavours of any beans within the dish.
For similar reasons, Côtes du Rhône is lovely with Baked Beans with Bacon.
We’ve simplified Côtes du Rhône in this blog. We’ve focused only on the red variety, and narrowed it down to Grenache dominant reds. Fear not, if your Côtes du Rhône is Syrah based, or heavy on Mourvèdre, we will have up and coming blog articles to help you out soon! We’ve also completely ignored Châteauneuf-du-Pape which will also get its own blog in the future.