Food and Wine Pairing Rules 101: Labor Day Combinations to Impress Your Guests

Labor Day signifies the end of our gorgeous northern Michigan summers. Barbecues and grilling are some of the best ways to gather and enjoy these last few weeks of warm weather. Food and wine are both amazing on their own—and together, they can really bring out the best in each other. Not all pairings are a perfect match, but when you do find a great one, it can completely transform your experience. That is why we put together a set of food and wine pairing rules, just to get you off on the right foot to impress your guests!

Food and Wine Pairing Rules: The Basics

Here are three elements of food and wine and how you can think of them when pairing food with wine:

#1: Flavors

When thinking about food and wine, there are two flavor categories to consider: congruent and contrasting flavors.

Congruent flavors exist within the same flavor family. An example of congruent flavors is beef and mushroom. They are both earthy and savory and have significant amounts of umami flavor.

Contrasting flavors are flavors that complement each other and taste great together, even if they’re not in the same flavor family. A prime example is lime and coconut. They do not have the same flavor profiles but somehow just work well together!

#2: Textures

Food and wine textures can also be congruent or complementary. An example of congruent textures in food and wine would be a sweet wine with a sweet food (think lemon cake and select harvest Riesling!).

But let’s say you’re eating foods with creamy or fatty textures, such as cheese, beef, or fried foods. You want to instead complement those foods by choosing a wine with high acidity—it will cut through that texture and balance the dish.

#3: Body

In regards to the body of the wine, I always think that lighter wines go great with lighter foods. To make sure that your wine doesn’t overpower your food (and vice versa), here’s a general rule of thumb: The heavier the food, the heavier the body of the wine.

That is why you have probably heard of pairing white wine with fish and red wine with meat. It’s a safe bet to just follow that rule—but experimenting with all three of these elements is what can make it so fun and interesting!

Find the recipe for this tasty cilantro lime grilled chicken at the end of our post!

Bonus Tip!

The last little rule that I like to follow is a saying that goes “what grows together, goes together.” This means that pasta is generally great with Italian wine. That Napa Cabernet is great with a Californian cow ribeye steak. Traverse wine coast wines go well with fresh produce from your local farmer, with fresh fish caught out of our bay and local bakeries baking the best pastries and pies for dessert. Go out and support your local producers and pair them with your favorite local wines!

The Joy is All in Experimentation

Although these are good things to think about when pairing wine and food, it is completely a personal experience. The Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) is a fantastic resource in learning all things about wine and it has general guidelines for wine and food pairings. But remember: the food and wine pairing rules shouldn’t rule you. Try different combinations and see what you like the best—it’s all part of the fun!

Recipes For Your Labor Day Fun

Here are some great recipes to take to your get together this Labor Day weekend. Pair them with our estate-grown wines!



A Showcase of Lush Michigan Wines: The Judgement of Michigan Wine Competition

Earlier this month, Rove Estate had the distinct pleasure of participating in the inaugural Judgement of Michigan wine competition that brought together Michigan winemakers, including Traverse City wineries. Each location proudly showcased their incredible home-grown wines to an extensive panel of industry experts from all over the country. It was truly one of the most diverse and impressive panels of educators and influencers. The Michigan Wine Collaborative and Lake Michigan College planned and hosted the event to bring the wines of Michigan together as a united front to promote and bring awareness to our state’s burgeoning wine industry.

Bringing Michigan Wine to a National Stage

The competition’s main purpose is to help wineries like Rove Estate expand their reach. “It’s more of an inclusive tasting evaluation with buyers and influencers from Michigan, Chicagoland, and the greater United States,” said Gina Shay, who is vice president of the Michigan Wine Collaborative, a nonprofit organization that promotes the state’s flourishing wine industry and one of the partners in the new judging event. “We hesitate to say it’s ‘the new competition,’ because instead of the point being to pit Michigan wineries against each other, it’s more of an introduction or re-introduction of Michigan wines to relevant judges in the wine community who can help Michigan wine reach more consumers.”

Michigan Hosted a Diverse Group of Judges

The judges came from near and far with diversity in professions as well as palates. Among them were wine journalists, buyers, retailers, influencers, and educators. The 22 judges sat in groups and assessed the wines blindly (meaning they didn’t know what winery produced what wine, eliminating any bias). The group rated the wines on a quality tiered system of double gold, gold, silver, and bronze. Traverse City wineries stunned with winners across the board, validating our world-class wine region.

Rove Estate’s Mission

Although we love a friendly competition with our colleagues and peers, the sole objective is to band together and shout from the rooftops to show the world the incredibly unique and delicious wines of Michigan. The collective impact of this event has already turned heads among wine professionals throughout the country, and even the world. We may be a young region, but we are confident in the wines we can produce and varietals we can grow. As we say in the business, we will only get better with time. Each year, as an industry, we continue to push the envelope and raise our standards in both winemaking and farming practices. There is so much enthusiasm and passion behind our mission!

Rove Estate submitted three wines to this competition and proudly brought home two medals! Of course, it is always fun to be recognized for our quality wines—but the biggest reason we wanted to participate in the Judgement of Michigan was to show both our support and enthusiasm for elevating Michigan and local Traverse City wineries. A rising tide lifts all boats. And we couldn’t be prouder to be included in this fleet!

Planning the Perfect Traverse City Wine Tour

Are you considering Traverse City wine tours for your next getaway? Ready to taste the fresh, bright notes of our award-winning wines? If your upcoming trip will be your first time visiting our region, here are a few tips to prepare a perfect wine coast vacation.

The Traverse Wine Coast consists of two lovely peninsulas — Old Mission and Leelanau. In more recent years, these regions have received more and more recognition for their fruit-forward wines with bright acidity. With the number of accolades Traverse City wineries have been winning in international wine competitions, visiting our beautiful coastline should definitely be on your wine tour bucket list.

Tip #1: Consider Your Group Size

If you plan to travel in a larger group, then consider keeping the size to 4 to 6 people. For bigger groups of over 6 people, visit on less popular days for an optimal experience. Your Traverse City winery visits will usually be less crowded between Sunday and Friday. Pro-tip: there are a few wineries that will open up at 10 AM and stay open past 6 PM to help accommodate the high demand of summer/fall traffic. 

Tip #2: Research Wineries Before You Arrive

There are over 40 wineries in our region, and as our wines gain more recognition, this number will keep growing! However, it’s best to keep your visit to four wineries (five is pushing it!). This will allow you to enjoy and savor each winery without feeling overwhelmed by the sheer number of locations here. Do the research before booking your flight and prioritize which ones you wish to visit.

With the number of incredible wineries here, it’s tempting to want to try them all. Plan on multiple Traverse City wine tours! We are definitely a destination that deserves multiple visits. 

Tip #3: Decide What Kind of Tour You Want

Many decide to go on a self-guided tour with a designated driver and handpick every winery they want to visit based on their own research. Others decide to leave all the details to a local wine tour company or chauffeur. With a company, you don’t have to worry about driving or choosing from all the wineries in Traverse City. Instead, you get to sit back and focus on simply enjoying your time.

Tip #4: Enjoy Time in Each Peninsula

While you can book a separate wine tour for both Old Mission and Leelanau on your trip here, we recommend taking the time to taste the best of both worlds. Each region boasts its own unique terrain and vineyards — we recommend a day for both!

Ready to Amp Up Your Traverse Wine Coast Vacation?

Make Rove Estate Winery one of your stops! We craft our wines exclusively with estate-grown grapes for a plethora of unique fragrances and tastes that please all of your senses. Since our winery is located between Old Mission and Leelanau, it is the ideal place to begin or end your Traverse City wine tour. To make a reservation with us or book a tour (with a stop at Rove Estate), click here or email us at

Rove Estate: Our 5-Year Anniversary!

‘Rove’ is a Gaelic term that is defined as a journey without a destination. To rove is to travel, to experience, to wander, or just to set out for an adventure, even when you don’t quite know where that adventure will lead you… Rove Estate is that adventure that Creighton and McKenzie Gallagher set out on, nearly 10 years ago.


From their multi-generational northern Michigan cherry farm, they began their dream and planted a vineyard, not knowing all the hardships that came along with that dream. As unlikely winery owners, they pursued their dream with no security or assurances—a leap of faith—which is truly echoed by the intrepid spirits of their Irish ancestors.

Rove Estate's McKenzie Gallagher

The little known tale of the ‘Winegeese’ begins with a group of Irishmen that fled their home country in the 17th and 18th centuries, leaving all comfort and security behind, for the glimmer of a more meaningful existence. Back in the day, Ireland was one of the biggest trade buyers of fine wine. The Irish loved their fine wine, so naturally they emigrated to the wine capital of the world, Bordeaux and eventually around the world. Despite the odds, they found success in winemaking, establishing a worldwide legacy that persists today.

The Irish farmers were true stewards of the land to produce the highest quality grapes that would turn into some of the highest quality wine. Not many realize that farming is truly at the heart of our Irish ancestors and how they lived their lives, which is why we pride ourselves on being a truly farm-first winery.

Rove Estate's Creighton Gallagher

Farming is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, adaptability, and a surprising amount of faith. You never know what Mother Nature is going to give you. Each year we choose to share all our trials when it comes to the challenges of farming, and our triumphs in the form of delicious estate grown wine. On the back of each of our bottles you can read the notes of each growing season from that vintage as well as the exact date Rove Estate harvests those particular grapes.

We pay homage to our Irish ancestors and carry their unwavering spirit and into our own lives, and it is truly intertwined into the foundations and heart of Rove Estate. We believe every glass holds a story, and our story is centuries deep. So we raise a glass to the beginning, we raise a glass to these incredible five years, and we raise a glass to whatever the future may hold. Slaínte!

The Art of Swirling and Aerating: How to Enhance the Aroma of Your Wine

The guide to wine aromas, swirling, and aerating your wine!

Wine descriptions are often filled with a huge spectrum of aromas and flavors. 

Wine is filled with aromatic compounds that are specific to a certain grape varietal, winemaking technique, or age of a wine. 

For example, when you smell strawberries in a wine, you recognize the aromatic compound abundant in strawberries! Truth be told, there are not any strawberries in your glass (unless you put them there for sangria), but you are inhaling the same aromatic compound that your brain recognizes as the smell of strawberry!

How Swirling Affects the Aroma of Wine

The best way to get these aromas to come to life is by swirling the glass. To put it simply, the alcohol binds to different aromatic compounds. When you swirl the wine in your glass, the oxygen agitates the alcohol. The alcohol then evaporates, lifting the aromas into the air and leaving them more accessible for you to smell. 

Why Should I Aerate My Wine?

Aerating or decanting a wine can also be beneficial, not only for the aromas but the overall structure and mouthfeel. Generally, when you aerate or decant your drink, the more undesirable compounds will evaporate first and leave you with a more desirable fragrance. Alcohol is a very volatile compound (think of the smell of nail polish or straight spirit) so it is not desirable to taste or smell. When you aerate a wine, that alcohol will “burn off” or evaporate in small amounts to leave you with pleasant smells.

Your wine begins aerating as soon as you open the bottle. The more it is exposed to oxygen, the quicker it aerates. Pouring it into your glass and swirling it will help expose your drink to air. For more extreme wines that are more dense, concentrated, or tannic, decanting is a good option to help soften the wine and expose the desirable aromas.

Older wines have unique and delicate flavors and aromas that can potentially disappear too quickly—be cautious when decanting them. Generally, they are decanted to remove sediment. 

Stop and Inhale Before You Taste

Now you can apply the saying ‘stop and smell the roses’ to wine. Take a second before you sip to breathe deep and see if you can recognize any particular aroma! It can be really fun and even challenging at first. But the more you practice, the better you become. Happy tasting!