Celebrating the much-awaited arrival of spring's culinary treasures is an event best shared with friends, family and a good bottle of wine. Whether host or invited guest, deciding which wine to bring to the table requires some consideration.
More often than not, spring celebrations are served family style or on elegant buffets. In either case, wine pairing is made easy (and festive) by opening more than one style and encouraging guests to mix and match the wine with the food on their plate. For your best bet, try uncorking wines that are fairly flexible in terms of food pairing, such as an off-dry German Riesling. Loaded with refreshing crispness, this mouthwatering sweetheart partners well with most appetizers and harmonizes with springtime hits such as citrus-glazed ham and balsamic vinaigrette. For reds, look for a medium-bodied wine with fresh red fruit such as an American Pinot Noir. Full of elegance and grace, Pinot Noir is flexible and partners well with spring versions of veal, salmon, lamb and tuna. If grilled meats are on the menu, open a bottle of Chateauneuf-du-Pape. This French blended wine (mainly Grenache, Mourvèdre, Syrah and Cinsault) from the southern Rhone Valley is a versatile red with enough body to stand up to grilled meats like lamb chops with minted couscous and plenty of acidity to finesse its way around fresh salmon.
It's springtime and delicious flavors await. So grab a couple bottles, call up a few friends and celebrate a brand-new season one sip at a time.
Marianne Frantz, founder of the Cleveland Wine School, is joined by Chris Oppewall, sommelier at the award-winning Lockkeepers in Valley View, in selecting wines for this month's Cellar Notes.
2002 Mönchhof, Estate Riesling, Germany ($14): This is an off-dry white with mouthwatering acidity and fruit that can handle spicy or sweet dishes such as glazed ham. Floral notes of citrus blossom, apricots, mineral and a refreshing hint of green-apple goodness.
2002 Richter Estate Riesling, Germany ($12):ÙWith firm acidity balanced by residual sugar, this food-friendly wine is a good value. Delicate aromas of peach, apple and slate coupled with refreshing acidity make it a perfect match for most springtime appetizers.
2002 Argyle, Pinot Noir, Oregon ($18): This is a fruit-forward wine with concentrated raspberry, perfumed by vanilla and a hint of orange-herbal citrus. Silky texture, tangy acidity and lasting finish enhance berry- or mint-inspired sauces.
2000 Cambria Julia's Vineyard, Pinot Noir, California ($21): A velvety wine full of decadent red fruit and a bit of cinnamon spice. Its flavor starts big and ends with refreshing acidity. Grab this bottle on the way to your next dinner party.
2001 Château La Nerthe, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France ($38): Classic Châteauneuf-du-Pape. Cherry, chocolate and pepper with a backdrop of mineral earthiness. Complex flavors and integrated tannins create an overall elegance that pairs well with grilled meats.
Romain de la Solitude, Châteauneuf-du-Pape, France ($33): A full-bodied red with smooth tannins and fresh acidity. Ripe fruits with herbal and mocha flavors and a touch of peppery zing. Served alone or with food, this wine is a crowd-pleaser.