Now that spring is here, most of us are starting to make the switch from the heavier, richer, comforting tastes of winter and onto the lighter, brighter flavors of spring.
Take a trip to the wine store and pick up a mixed case of affordable red and white wines that will see you through all of the season's meals and special occasions between now and summer.
I'm recommending buying two bottles of each of the varieties here. And be sure to ask your merchant if they give an extra 10 percent discount on a case of wine. Most do.
For Salads, Fish, and Tuning Up Your Taste Buds
Spring's lighter, greener foods pair perfectly with Sauvignon Blanc. Depending on your taste preferences, go for a citrusy/melony Sauvignon Blanc (like the 2007 Dancing Bull, with its flavors of pink grapefruit and canteloupe, find this wine), one full of zingy lime notes (like the 2008 Matua from New Zealand, find this wine), or a stony crisp French version from Sancerre or the Touraine (like the 2007 Clos Roche Blanche, find this wine).
For Rainy Days
With April flowers come spring showers. Be ready for the occasional chilly downpours with some Zinfandel. It goes great with take-out pizza and homemade pasta, and if you've still got some when you fire up your grill, it is terrific with barbecue, as well. I recommend the 2006 Dry Creek Vineyard Zinfandel, with its blackberry and black pepper flavors (find this wine), the 2006 Francis Ford Coppola Director's Cut Zinfandel with its smokey blackberry and cherry notes (find this wine), and the smooth raspberry and plum flavors of the 2006 Cartlidge & Brown Zinfandel from Amador County (find this wine).
For Firing Up the Grill
My favorite spring-into-summer reds are made with the Spanish grape Tempranillo. There are excellent domestic bottlings, but the wine from Spain are still amazingly affordable for the quality. Look out for the traditional 2005 Bodegas Montecillo Crianza, with its leathery, herbal, and black cherry aromas and flavors (find this wine), or the 2006 Martin Codax Ergo, with its mint, cherry, and chocolate notes (find this wine).
For Sipping in the Garden
Whenever I drink Viognier I feel like I'm drinking in spring. Viogniers are known for their combination of melon, orchard fruits, and honeysuckle. Year in and year out Anglim (find this wine), Consilience (find this wine), and Michael-David (find this wine) make excellent examples of domestic Viognier.
For Seafood, Spice, and Everything Nice
Pick up some Chenin Blanc to go with your spicier spring meals, or to pair beautifully with fresh fish and seafood. Chenin Blanc is grown all over the world, and can be made in styles that range from dry (like the fresh, melony 2007 Dry Creek Vineyard Dry Chenin Blanc, find this wine) to the off-dry (like the pineappley 2008 Sebeka Chenin Blanc from South Africa, find this wine). There are even sparkling Chenin Blancs, like the yeasty NV François Pinon Vouvray Brut (find this wine).
For Ham, Roasted Chicken, and Everything Else
It's always good to have Pinot Noir on hand. A few of the new releases I recommend are the 2007 Wild Horse Pinot Noir with its raspberry flavors and aromas and silky texture (find this wine), the more earthy and cherry-inflected 2007 Robert Mondavi Private Selection Pinot Noir (find this wine), and the zaftig, spicy 2006 Blackstone Winery Reserve Pinot Noir (find this wine).
Full disclosure: I received these wines as samples,with the exception of the Viogniers, the Clos Roche Blanche and the François Pinon Vouvray Brut.
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