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Sip & Savor: Lighter Sipping Wines Perfect for Spring

Mar 24, 2016 09:00AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Chris Lawson

Ah Spring! It has finally arrived with all its glory. What better way to celebrate spring’s season of rebirth than with lighter clothes, lighter meals, and lighter wines? Markets are filling with the fresh, delicious fruits and vegetables that we’ve missed all winter. Spring lamb, veal, and ham appear on our dinner tables. Now’s the time to choose from some lighter style wines to serve with spring’s bounty.

Try Rosé

Our first choice is rosé. These light, delicate wines are beautiful in the glass and on the palate. Drop a fresh spring strawberry in your glass and you can’t help but feel wonderful. For those that enjoy sweeter style wines, White Zinfandel and White Merlots are easy to find, relatively inexpensive, and pair well with light foods. But don’t let these wines make you think that all pink wines are sweet. The dry rosé wines of Provence, the Loire, and the southern Rhône regions of France are enjoyed in warm weather at sidewalk cafés around the world. Made from all different grape varieties according to the region, these wines are pink but dry and make the perfect aperitif as well as pairing well with many foods. Of course, there is no better way to celebrate spring or any season than with a glass of sparkling Rosé Champagne. We strongly suggest you try rosé wines with Sunday brunch for an extra special treat.

If white wine is your choice, break away from the Chardonnay habit and choose a different varietal.

Sip Into Sauvignon Blanc

These light, fresh wines often have slight herbal characters and lively acidity that makes them the perfect accompaniment to spring’s lighter dishes. Sauvignon Blanc wines are made all over the world and differences in climate and soils from the various regions show in the wines. California Sauvignon Blancs are lively with crisp acidity and slight herbal notes. French wines made form this grape are often labeled simply Sauvignon. There are two very famous French wines made from the Sauvignon Blanc grape. They are Sancerre and Pouilly Fumé. These two regions are directly across from each other on the banks of the Loire river. These are wonderful wines with great finesse and personality, possibly the best examples of Sauvignon Blanc in the world. Clean and crisp with flavors of minerals and flint in the palate, these wines are distinctly different in style and offer the perfect opportunity to compare the differences between wines made for the same grape on different soils. For a really different experience in Sauvignon Blanc, try one from New Zealand, most especially those from the Marlborough region of New Zealand. They have a unique aroma and flavors that set them apart from other Sauvignon Blancs. I can’t quite describe it, although you often hear gooseberries, grapefruit, and lime used to describe these wines. However they are described, they are crisp and clean with aggressive varietal flavors.

Ponder Over Pinot Grigio

While this variety has been around forever, in the past few years Pinot Grigio has exploded onto the wine market. Produced in Italy, the dry, medium-bodied wines are made from this white mutation of the Pinot Noir grape. Called Pinot Gris in France, this grape produces dry, light, fresh wines often with citrus flavors that pair perfectly with fish and shellfish and that also are perfect just for sipping.

Refresh With Rieslings

The Riesling grape is the backbone for many of the world’s finest white wines. These wines can range all the way from dry to slightly sweet to the sweetest of dessert wines. Rieslings from Alsace are not only dry, they are bone dry. Crisp, fresh and acidic, they pair perfectly with many light foods. German Rieslings are sweeter but vary in style from slightly sweet to drier styles.

Ease out of winter and into spring with a choice from the wines above. Surprise yourself and your guests with something a little different.

Chris Lawson is a founding partner of Fishpaws Marketplace and industry expert of wines, spirits, and beverages.