To discover the best wines to pair with our new spring menus and recipes, we talked to Jordan Mackay, an expert member of our Williams-Sonoma Wine team. Keep reading for his top picks to serve at your next alfresco get-together.
I’m a junky for spring, and it’s not just because my birthday falls in this season. No, it’s the season of renewal. How can you not rejoice when daylight savings time extends our evenings and when the tenderest little green vegetables arrive in the markets?
Spring also suits my taste in wine. While I enjoy ponderous, weighty reds, it’s the light reds, pale rosés and crisp whites that I drink constantly. They just make sense when their qualities are reflected by the weather outside.
Spring whites should be light, crisp, and not oaky. I like perky, brisk Chardonnays like the Lioco Sonoma County Chardonnay or this 2007 Domaine Vocoret & Fils Chablis. These bright, racy wines already seem to incorporate a squeeze of lemon, making them perfect for spring foods like oysters, grilled fish and vegetable pastas. I also enjoy lightly floral whites that echo the perfume of blooming spring flowers. The David Girard Coda Blanc fits that bill, as does the 2010 Alberice Malvasia. Try these with seafood salads or country patés.
When it comes to rosé, I’m not picky about the region, as long as the wine is well made. I love light salmon colored rosés from Provence and the southern Rhone in France. But there are great wines coming out of Spain and Italy, too. And rosé of Pinot Noir from Oregon or California can sometimes be the most delightful of all. Just don’t give rosé a free pass because it’s pink. Before you open the wallet to buy a case (which you will need for spring and summer), make sure you taste the wine first to determine that it’s well made. Rosé should be held to the standard of other wines — make sure it doesn’t seem “hot” (alcoholic) on the finish and that there is a delicate hint of light, fresh berries on the nose.
When it comes to main courses, spring gives us a bounty: spring chicken and spring lamb, to name a couple. I love seasonal reds with these, especially Pinot Noir, which is the red of spring, as far as I’m concerned. With chicken, a lighter Pinot like Oregon’s A to Z. And with tender lamb, a more pithy one like this Burgundy: 2009 Michel Sarrazin Givry Champs Lalot Rouge.
Of course, spring can also mean long rainstorms. What to drink when those dull our spirits? Only one thing: Champagne.