Gourmet Highway: Love, Bubbles and Ballet

By Doc Lawrence –

Too often confused with lower end wines, elegant Rosé adds to the Valentine's ceremony. Lovely, complex and refreshing, they are among the most versatile wines.

February is that month set aside to celebrate love with Valentine’s Day positioned right in the middle. I think of red roses, chocolates, Champagne and most often an intimate dinner. There are a few highly original items that add to the joy and romance of Valentine’s Day.

Some of the greatest love stories-The Black Swan, Romeo and Juliet, Giselle– are told through dance, highlighted by iconic pairings of dancers, or pas de deux, a French ballet term meaning “steps of two,” in which two dancers perform together. The pas de deux usually includes an entrée, adagio, two variations (one for each dancer) and a coda all throughout which the dancers communicate expressions of love and emotion. Wine pairing should have this same romantic balance and I have found few for Valentine’s Day more lovely than the sparkling wine named Pas de Deux.

The creator of this bottled treasure is Sharon Fenchak, a visionary winemaker at Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina. I asked her how this particular wine with the enchanting name was born.

“I was inspired, “ she told me,  “to craft this wine following a stint in Italy’s Veneto. After enjoying some of the classic Moscato of the region, I dreamed of creating my own sparkler on home soil.” She added that her dream became a reality “when I landed here at Biltmore, a property where sparkling wine has been part of the culinary and entertaining tradition since George Vanderbilt opened his doors to guests back in 1895.”

Crafted in the classic Methode Champenoise, the wine’s lively bubbles, according to Ms. Fenchak, symbolize a celebration, while its delicate sweet flavors and crisp finish “are the perfect foil for the rich, creamy texture and complexity of chocolate confections and decadent Valentine’s Day fare.”

A vineyard in Provence where some great wines are pink, delicious and pair wonderfully with love.

The slow, elegant, unfolding movements of two dancers mark an adagio. Pas de Deux serves as the perfect start to a Valentine’s feast. All great love stories must end. The coda, or conclusion, of your own Valentine’s Day with Pas De Deux assures a refreshing finale on a high note.

If a sparking wine is only part of your wine plans, then, because of the special meaning of Valentine’s Day, think about a lovely bottle of Rosé. No, this isn’t “white zin” that comes in a huge jug. Complex, yet gentle, food friendly, cool on the palate and memorable, look for bottles from New York’s Finger Lakes region, Provence, Spain and Italy. Rarely are they overpriced and be forewarned, that you likely need more than one bottle. These often are highly popular at festive dinners.

Pas de Deux ia both an iconic pairing of ballet dancers and an exotic sparkling wine.

In France, rosé outsells both white and red wine. After having been largely ignored outside of France for decades, rosé is being rediscovered especially in warm weather states like Florida as a fun, versatile wine that complements today’s American lifestyles.

There are several good reasons for the rosé explosion: It’s fun – rosé is a beautiful, festive wine that goes hand-in-hand with good times.  One characteristic of these wines from Provence is the subtle influence of the Mediterranean – the dry, acidic nature of Provence rosé strikes a perfect balance with the well-loved Mediterranean flavors of olive oil, seafood, and fresh vegetables.  This wine, if anything, is versatile. Many enthusiasts consider rosé the ultimate pairing wine because it complements so many dishes.

The crisp, cool flavors of a well-balanced rosé pair well not only with traditional Provençal cuisine, but also with spicy, full-flavored dishes from many parts of the world.

Mark Oldman offers solid advice for those just getting their feet wet with this wine: “To achieve rosé nirvana, follow my ‘Rosé Rule of P’: serve it with anything pink–lobster, shrimp, ham, pork–or anything Provencal–such as bouillabaisse, salade Nicoise, or grilled sardines.”
Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine (Norton, 2010). And, don’t forget to invite me over when such heavenly dishes are served.

In the end, however, all of the above is but a prelude to the real thing. It is love that we honor and love comes in pairs, stands on its own footing and sure makes life fun. Cole Porter, perhaps a little tongue in cheek, said it well:

I get no kick from champagne.
Mere alcohol doesn’t thrill me at all,
So tell me why should it be true
That I get a kick out of you?



(Doc Lawrence is a veteran travel, food, wine and spirits journalist.
Contact him at: editors@docsnews.com.)


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