Old man winter has gone into a slumber, hopefully. Spring is here. The sun is out longer. The temperatures are rising. Grass is getting greener and buds should be appearing if they have not already.
While Summer is just around the corner, there is much to enjoy during Spring. And, no matter what you are feasting on this year, we are confident that some of these options will pair well with your meal . . .
1. Bubbles . . . no matter what you are eating, sparkling wine will go beautifully. This year try a Franciacorta. These gems are bubbles from the Lombardy region in France and are an “under the radar” pick in terms of the wine world. Made generally from the same grapes as Champagne (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) and made in the same traditional manner as Champagne, these delicious Italian Sparklers come in at about half the price of their French counterparts.
2. Pinot Noir . . . pairs wonderfully with one of the ‘traditional’ Easter mainstays, ham. With its light body, bright red fruit notes and great acidity Pinot is the ‘go to’ red wine option for ham. Red wines from the Burgundy region in France are all Pinot Noir. In fact, some might say it's the birthplace of Pinot. They tend to be beautifully made and a bit more ‘earthy’ than other Pinots around the world. They also can be pricy. Our suggestion . . . if you can afford a Red Burgundy, by all means go for it. Otherwise, try a Pinot Noir from Oregon and New Zealand. Both of these areas are producing world class Pinot Noir at very affordable prices.
3. Chardonnay . . . but not any Chardonnay, Chablis. Chablis is chardonnay from an area called Chablis, in the Burgundy region in France. Chardonnay produced from this region is generally unoaked with great acidity. Because of its true fruit and crisp acidity, the wines of Chablis are perfect compliments to food, particularly seafood, salads and even the ham we spoke of earlier. Chablis generally is reasonably priced, especially when compared to some of the oaky California Chardonnays on the market.
4. Wines from the Loire Valley . . . located about two hours south of Paris, the Loire has over 400 wineries producing racy white wines and red wines that favor flavor over force. The predominant white wine grape is Chenin Blanc and the red that flourishes in the Loire is Cabernet Franc. Chenin is a wholly versatile white grape variety that can be made ‘bone-dry’, or with a hint of sweetness, or in a very sweet dessert wine style. They can be made to be drunk young and be made to age well for decades. They are distinct wines pairing well with everything from sushi to salads to pork dishes. Cab Franc is the king of red wine on the Loire. These medium bodied reds are loved for their savory bell pepper-like flavors, medium-high acidity and mouthwatering tastes of strawberry and red plum. Because of Cab Franc’s great acidity and slightly reduced tannins, they are great food-wine options. Pair them with roasted pork, beef burgers, stew, lamb, and even turkey dishes.
5. Riesling . . . sometimes thought of only for their sweetness levels, try a dry Riesling with an Easter dinner and you will be surprised. In our humble opinion the German wine aisle of your local wine vendor is where to find the best examples of Riesling. Most Riesling has a touch of delightful sweetness to them but what sets Riesling apart from most other white wines is its acidity. Even the sweet Rieslings exhibit acidity to keep the sweet levels in check. It is this acidity that makes them wonderful food wines. While versatile in pairing ability, Riesling really excels when paired with spicy foods. Something about the sweetness and acidity puts the spicy dishes to shame. Try a Riesling with thai and Asian foods. One of the best pairings in the world is spicy duck.
We hope that we have given you ‘food for thought’ in choosing your Spring wines. We wish all of you a wonderful Spring season and we look forward to helping you seek out those great wines for the upcoming Summer months!