On Valentine's Day, your sweetheart expects roses. You can blow a paycheck on a dozen red ones that will drop their petals by the weekend, or you can get creative and incorporate the sweetly intoxicating essence of roses into the year's most romantic meal.
Roses are available in several edible forms, from simple candied rose petals to a sweet and sticky jam made from roses. Gourmet markets, baking supply shops, Indian or Middle Eastern grocery stores and online retailers are all good sources for rose products.
"A lot of Indian desserts use or are garnished with rose syrup," says Melissa Walnock, the executive pastry chef at Tabla, an Indian-inflected fine dining restaurant in New York. Walnock has been working on a version of gulab jamun, a deep-fried milk curd dumpling served with the sweet syrup drizzled over it, but she says it's difficult: "Chef [Floyd Cardoz] is from India, and it's hard to make it exactly how he remembers it." Currently, Walnock's menu includes a pomegranate granité served with a Champagne and rose water foam and rose water macarons (meringue-based sandwich cookies), and a frozen chocolate mousse flavored with rose water (recipe here).
Here are a few simple rules from Walnock for using roses in your cooking and baking.
There are a few ways to approach pairing wines with roses. You can choose to highlight the rose water in the chocolate mousse by pairing it with a light, sweet Brachetto D'Acqui, such as Castello Banfi's Rosa Regale, which has its own rose and red berry aromas. Walnock recommends pouring a dry white or sparkling rosé with rose-infused desserts that are not overtly sweet and do not contain chocolate, as she finds a sweet wine can amplify the rose's perfume in the mouth, thereby overpowering all of the other flavors.
Recently-rated sparkling rosés to pour for Valentine's Day are listed below. These food-friendly wines can be delightful on their own, as well as with a range of dishes for your main meal, from game birds to even heartier fare or cheese.
|HEIDSIECK MONOPOLE Brut Rosé Champagne Diamant Rosé 1998||94||$130|
|Dried cherry, ruby grapefruit, smoke and spice notes herald this complex, assertive bubbly. Has richness and structure, which are both in balance. Crisp finish. Ideal on its own or with food. Drink now through 2010. 1,000 cases made.
|DUVAL-LEROY Brut Rosé Champagne de Saignée NV||91||$43|
|A dry, delicate style, yet there's no shortage of flavor, with compote of berry, vanilla and ginger. Intense and balanced. Vinous, with a lingering finish. Drink now through 2009. 6,000 cases made.
|MAILLY Brut Rosé Champagne NV||91||$44|
|Plenty of depth, offering mushroom, dried berry and forest notes along with the mellowness of a more mature wine. Fine grip and balance are emphasized on the long finish. Drink now. 9,000 cases made.
|ROGER POUILLON & FILS Brut Rosé Champagne NV||90||$38|
|Whole wheat-infused, picking up rose and cherry accents from the tasty beginning to the focused finish. Dry and a tad lean, this will appeal to seasoned Champagne aficionados. Drink now. 1,166 cases made.
|BEAUMONT DES CRAYÈRES Brut Rosé Champagne Grand Rosé NV||88||$36|
|An open-knit, cherry-infused rosé, gentle and rich, with an underlying juiciness that emerges on the finish. Drink now. 5,000 cases made.
|MONTAUDON Brut Rosé Champagne Grande Rosé NV||88||$33|
|Gingerbread aromas introduce berry and orange flavors in this tangy Champagne. Tight and on the tart side, so try with food. Drink now through 2012. 4,000 cases made.
|TROUILLARD Brut Rosé Champagne Cuvée Elexium NV||88||$40|
|Firm and minerally, with fleeting floral, berry and graphite aromas and flavors that are still grounded in a vibrant structure and a tactile finish. Drink now. 5,000 cases made.
|DOMAINE CHANDON Blanc de Noirs California NV||87||$18|
|Full-bodied, rich and complex, with layers of raspberry and cherry fruit, finishing with notes of spice, yeast and toast that turn delicate. Drink now through 2008. 95,000 cases made.|
|KORBEL Brut Rosé California NV||86||$11|
|Peppery black cherry and wild berry aromas are lean and firm on the palate, giving it a crisp, refreshing mouthfeel. Drink now. 35,000 cases made.
|DOMAINE STE. MICHELLE Blanc de Noirs Columbia Valley NV||85||$12|
|Definitely pink, with a touch of watermelon to the toasty berry flavors, finishing soft. Drink now. 18,000 cases made.
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