As winter wraps up around the country, crocuses and daffodils poke their eager heads up from the earth, days last longer, and we all clean out our closets. Or at least we vow to do so.
Spring is the perfect time for new beginnings, when we shed our winter layers like skin and expose ourselves to sunshine and the promise of summer. We begin to breathe fresh air again.
The changing of the seasons brings with it change of all sorts. It’s not unlike the end of summer, when flings come to a careful close and the beginning of winter when couples spring up citywide to cuddle in the cold.
Thrust off that bulky sweater and take a good look at yourself. Chances are it’s time for a tune-up. We tend to get cozy and comfy in the winter months, when hibernation sets in and there’s nothing nicer than a warm body. Shine a little springtime sun on the subject and all of a sudden the flaws come to light.
And sometimes they’re lying next to you, hogging the covers, snoring too loudly, or spending too much time in the bathroom. Perhaps you’ve realized they weren’t who they seemed to be (or you aren’t who you seem to be), you have different goals, or you’ve simply fallen out of love and don’t know how to say it.
It isn’t always easy to let go, be it to an unflattering pair of designer jeans or a partner that you wanted so desperately to love.
Whether you’re purging your closet or your cell phone phonebook, here are some refreshing wines to help drown your sorrows and get a fresh, clean start at something new.
Contrary to popular belief, red wines can be light and lively. You may be accustomed to more austere American Pinot Noirs, but a young Burgundy has the sprightliness of freshly squeezed tart cherry juice. Finely bodied, it washes across the palate and leaves a prickly acidity in its wake, much like a granny smith apple. Try Dominique Derain Bourgogne “Les Riaux.” I’d normally describe wines from Italy’s Trentino-Alto Adige region as “wintry” for their crispness that is so reminiscent of mountain air, but there is also something delicate and youthful about them. Pinot Nero, Vivallis – 2008 is a good bet. Another red grape varietal that’s practically meant to be devoured in the sunshine alongside a plate of seafood is Nero D’Avola, a native Sicilian variety. While winemaking techniques and vintages make for a wide variety, generally speaking, a young Nero D’Avola has rich dark fruity flavors but an approachable and thirst-quenching palate. Cusumano Sagana Sicilia is one of my old stand-bys.
When you’re not quite ready to abandon the warming reds of winter, the age-old compromise—a sturdy rosé—should do the trick. Devotes of rosé tend to drink it at the first sign of spring or summer. It is at once reminiscent of summer refreshment and yet the right bottle packs just enough heat to smooth away goose bumps when you’re dying to dine outside on a sunny but less than sweltering afternoon. My favorite region for rosés is Provence in southeastern France. Look for the Côtes de Provence AOC appellation. The wines are made principally from red Cinsaut, Grenache and Mourvedre grapes, which are common to the southern Rhône region, and left on the skins for mere moments, leaving a color that is pale pink with a watered down amber quality. Aromas range from fresh strawberries to delicate herbaceous notes like grass and sage. On the palate they’re smooth and even a little spicy, and finish with the saltiness of the Mediterranean sea. One of my favorites at the moment is Domaines Ott Château de Selle Côtes de Provence. Our very own Long Island winery, Channing Daughters, produces a pale pink rosé, Rosato di Merlot, that is the closest thing to Provençal style around.
Warm Whites for Cool Nights.
It’s still chilly when the sun sets. A white wine with some serious body will keep your blood flowing and your teeth from chattering on those crisp evenings. Vermentino is typically a summery wine, full of citrus and sea salt. Try Cantine Lunae Vermentino. This one comes from the coastline on the border between Tuscany and Liguria and it has a fuller body and a glossy, honey-like palate, though it’s dry as a bone. Friulano or Tocai Friulano is a spicy white originally from the Northern Friuli region of Italy. An addition to lemon and pear, it often exhibits nutmeg and even some smokiness, much like a Gewurztraminer. Try Millbrook for the former and Elena Walch for the latter.