Though some of our February days seemed more springlike, today is the first official day of spring. Looking forward to fair weather, family gatherings, flowers and fresh greens.
Officially spanning the days between March 20 and the start of summer on June 21, spring contains within it the celebrations of Easter, Passover and Memorial Day; farmers’ market season openings; garden plantings; first blooms. Spring brings to market fruits and vegetables from our farms; foraged finds from our woods and fields; and fish from our waters.
The season offers the opportunity to delight in warmer weather, longer days, and a new year’s bounty. It also offers the chance to try new wines and new pairings.
- Go green with Gruner Veltliner.
If you love Sauvignon Blanc, try Gruner Veltliner. Zesty and flavorful, with some more green notes and hints of spicy white pepper, Gruner Veltliner is widely grown in Austria, if not much elsewhere. It’s those slightly “green” notes that make me think Gruner for spring, not to mention its unique ability to pair with a tricky spring vegetable: asparagus.
- Don’t give up on a classic: Sancerre
(or any other Sauvignon Blanc appellation in the Loire Valley)
Sauvignon Blanc from France’s northern Loire Valley is a favorite for spring vegetables and seasonal entertaining, indoors and outside. A bit more toned-down than its New Zealand counterparts, Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc offers the same dagger-like acidity and refreshing citrus notes, if a bit less in-your-face grapefruit-y.
Tip: Serve Sancerre at holiday gatherings alongside bountiful spring greens.
- Revisit Chardonnay.
For pairing with meaty white fish such as monkfish, as well as shellfish, including lobster and sea scallops, Chardonnay is a time-honored tradition tested across many, many dinner tables.There are a variety of Chardonnay styles from which to choose. Depending on the preparation, sauce, and seasoning, a seafood dish may command a ripe, oaked California style; a bright but subtle Burgundy; or a wine somewhere in between, such as a Chardonnay from Australia’s Yarra Valley.
Tip: Serve full-bodied whites, such as Chardonnay, at a slightly higher temperature than you would Sancerre or Gruner Veltliner
Roses make their way to market in time for the Kentucky Derby, among other notable spring events.
- Provence for picnics.
Classic, delicate Provence roses are ethereal yet flavorful, zesty, bright and so so fresh. Enjoy with light picnic fare, preferably on a blanket in a field of wildflowers.
- Deep pink for barbecues
For heartier fare, look for wines that are medium to deep shades of pink. Not the pale salmon pink of a Provence rose, no, actually, really pink. Juicy and ripe, but still dry, bold roses are awesome for barbecue. Look for roses from Australia, Italy and Texas. Yes, even Texas.
- Pinot Noir for the forest’s mushrooms
Pinot Noir offers a lovely “earthy” (is the polite term) quality that complements mushrooms, like the morels that arrive in spring. Pinot Noir’s versatility also makes it perfect for holiday meals at which a variety of flavors are served to a diversity of palates. California Pinot Noir offers a more fruit-forward style, whereas Burgundy offers a bit less ripeness and more “earthiness”, and Oregon can fall somewhere in between. If you need plenty of bottles for a large group and don’t want to break the bank, Chile produces some great value Pinot Noir.
- Syrah for Lamb. Shiraz for Barbecue.
Syrah and Shiraz. Same grape. Different place. Different style, too. Syrah from the Rhone Valley, as well as some wine regions in the new world, offers rustic, peppery, sometimes smoky notes and is a classic go-to for holiday dinners like lamb or brisket. For barbecues, change it up and go Aussie Shiraz for hedonistic juiciness. There are even sparkling Shirazes, which make for amazingly fun patio parties.
Brunch or Dessert. Celebrate local strawberries with some sparkle.
Delicately sweet and slightly sparkling, Moscato is a lovely brunch or dessert wine. Paired with creme fraiche and ripe strawberries – gentle morning sunshine or dimming daylight – it’s heavenly at brunch or for dessert.
Slice a few strawberries and place them in the bottom of the glass. Pour Champagne over top. Enjoy. Simple entertaining trick. Simple way to spoil yourself, too.
With these nine wines, you are 75% of the way to a case. Use those three slots to explore something totally new to you. Find wines from around the world at your local shop or explore the diversity of wines from New Jersey’s own wineries. Looking for a new wine for lamb? Try a Greek red. Need a new wine for seafood? Pick up a Portuguese white. Enjoy the spring weather at a local winery and bring a bottle of your favorite wine home.
Spring is finally here. Cheers!
Seasonal Availability Resources for New Jersey