Down the TikTok Rabbit Hole: Jalapeño Rosé, Why Not?
The kids are back in school, and I’ve found myself back in the kitchen, cracking bottles, chopping peppers, and trying to get to the bottom of a trend no one asked for. But let’s face it, it’s aesthetic AF to have peppers in your glass.
It’s like hiiiii I’m not your basic rosé babe, I’m a hot peppers in my rosé bi#@h, thank you so much.
Why not? I like a vibe. The colors make me happy, and the pepper’s bright and saturated green plays well against all shades of pink. Plus, adding peppers to perfectly good rosé feels antithetical to being a wine snob, and while yes, I probably am at least wine-picky, sometimes I just wanna be a follower and have a cute drink.
To the uninitiated, the trend purportedly began with the TikTok account “Alyssa in the Kitchen” drinking rosé with sliced jalapeños in the glass. Then others took to it, and next thing you know the practice was so widespread that the San Francisco Chronicle’s wine critic, Esther Mobbley, was reporting on it.
I love spicy food, and I love rosé, so I knew I needed to give it a go. Come with my on my jalapeño rosé trip, the one I never intended to make.
My first time, I went with a dry rosé with a few slices of pepper in a petite tulip glass which led to three initial findings. One: jalapeños vary in spiciness from pepper to pepper (the pound of peppers I purchased varied in heat), especially given the seed content. Play carefully. Two: don’t serve this in a small glass that shoots those capsaicin fumes straight up your nose. Three: IF it’s a really tasty rosé, one you relish solo, save it, as the jalapeños overwhelm most else.
But did I like it? It was fun. The rabbit hole shallow gave way into a rabbit hole freefall, and like a shroom-gobbling Alice, I accelerated down, down down.
Plus, I’m a Virgo who demands perfection not just aesthetically, but intrinsically. The variables flashed before my capsaicin-dazzled eyes:
-pepper heat level
-jalapeño:glass size:rosé ratios
-the addition of ice
-how long the peppers sit in the wine
-your personal tolerance for heat
-aromatic influence of the wine on final aromatics/flavors
HOW DOES ONE FIND ULTIMATE ROSÉ BLISS IN THIS MADNESS???
For my next try, I stuck with dry rosé, but played with temperature. Again, it came down to specifics. A couple of small ice cubes, yes. One giant cube, à la bespoke cocktail, was too much water.
I plugged another variable in, and substituted a slightly sweet rosé, let’s call it off-dry. It was a Vinho Verde—dry or not, they have a long track record with me as being delightful. The slight residual sugar somehow made the fruity notes of the wine hold their own a little better against the jalapeños. I thought it better than the dry renditions.
Then I also added ice. Even better! Then, gobsmacked with my own genius I thought:
JALAPEÑO ROSÉ FROSÉ
I knew what I had to do. I had to compose the ultimate jalapeño rosé slushy.
I started with the biggest hurdle—how was I going to incorporate the pepper? Blending in pepper would be overkill. But I was worried if I simply added jalapeños to a glass of frosé they might partially freeze and not emit much aromatics at all. Or it would take so long to drink the frosé that building pepper heat would overwhelm.
In order to stabilize the amount of jalapeño aromatics, I made a jalapeño-infused simple syrup.
Ready to move on to the rest of the recipe, a quick google brought it to my attention that most frosé is made with frozen strawberries. I’d imagined it as a wine/ice/sweetener concoction, but I was wrong. It gave it a whirl (literally), and I liked the drink with just a few frozen berries. They helped texturally and lent great color—but the proportion most frosé recipes called for…well I was basically having a strawberry slushie that outdid even the jalapeño-ness of it all. Strawberries remain optional.
Lastly, why not add tequila? This is your best self in pink and green. I lived it, I liked it, and can’t wait to break down and perfect whatever TikTok trend comes next.
In the meantime, it took a couple brain freezes, but this is my recipe. The burn is subtle. It’s more like a subtle rosé slushy that somehow ends hot.
¾ Cup off-dry rosé
4 Tbsp. jalapeño simple syrup (recipe follows)
2 Tbsp. Blanco tequila
Ice! Enough to make it slushy
Optional: substitute frozen strawberries for some of the ice to make it sweeter and fruitier
Starting with optional strawberries add, in this order, the strawberries, some ice, rosé, the simple syrup, and tequila. Then add more ice, enough that the liquid is semi-saturated, if you will, with ice cubes. Start with less, if you blend your beverage and it seems to thin, you can always add more.
TO MAKE JALAPEÑO FROSÉ:
Add one cup of sugar, one cup water, and a quartered jalapeno to a small pan, and stir over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved. Allow the jalapeño to steep about an hour or so. Remember, there will be fruit, wine, and all sorts of things tempering the heat, feel free to taste along the way or use your better judgement if your pepper is particularly hot or mild.
IN CLOSING ON THIS VERY IMPORTANT TOPIC
Lean in to the moment. Throughout history humans complain about innovators. But the world needs innovation. I’m not saying jalapeños in your rosé is innovation the world needs—but a sense of play rarely hurts. And I’m not saying there aren’t rosés so good you shouldn’t put jalapeños in their singular perfection. But if a trend can be a springboard to living life a little differently, a little fuller, and a little spicier, why not?
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New summer, new vintage to try. Pale salmon pink, excellent clarity. Nectarine note in nose, even when well chilled. Floral, nectarine and lemon flavors, blessedly dry, mineral finish with a touch of skin astringency. Love this wine! — a year ago
Shout out to @Ron R on this great bottle of Tequila. Had it mixed in our home margarita recipe and on a stand-alone basis. While this makes for a great mix the standalone shows a soft vanilla and caramel that finishes with a velvet smooth texture. — 3 years ago
Homemade chile verde calls for margaritas! The Cimarron isn't just a great deal, it is serious tequila. The spicy agave character comes through the lime and curaçao making a great cocktail! — 7 years ago