March is a magical time of year. It comes in like a lion, apparently it’s mad, (in the crazy, British way) and it sees the advent of spring, and the fever that comes with it.
The entire Northern Hemisphere is heating up, and as crocuses and daffodils sprout up from defrosted earth, hope is back in the air.
Next month is Passover. Will you have a date to the family Seder? Maybe you’re not planning that far in advance, but merely looking to dust off your dating shoes and make this the year.
I love the coming of spring for wine. It’s still cool enough to drink big hearty reds and complex whites. At the same time, you can finally order rosé again, or chill those crisp whites that pair so well with light fare and seafood, i.e., warm-weather delicacies.
Spring is also a time of optimistic transition and transformation. That’s the best place to be in dating terms as well.
Here are some of my favorite springtime bottles and when to drink them:
- The night of the last frost. This is it. The final icebreaker. This could be anything from finally asking that special person for something more, moving in for the first kiss, or sealing the deal and sharing your morning coffee. Definitely a red. It’s still chilly and you’ll need a little something to warm you up and relax everything from your nerves to your limbs. I recommend a quality Chianti. Try Vignamaggio, Lamole, or Badia Coltibuono. These are warm and hearty, but won’t necessarily steam-roll you. Especially if you have them with a hearty soup or pasta with meaty sauce. Loire reds are good too. Unpretentious Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir and Gamey get the job done without overwhelming.
Don’t eat too much though, you want to stay vigorous and alert when the moment strikes… Tomorrow you’ll wake up to the first green tips of new flowers, and possibly a smiling face.
- The first sunny warm day. If you’re lucky, you can even lunch outside. Take a moment to remember that these days don’t happen everyday, life is short, and pleasure is what it’s all about. I unabashedly recommend rosé. Côtes de Provence is my region of choice for these. Why? The blends of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre are delicate, characterful, and most importantly, dry. These are not princess wines, they’re herby and sea-salty and practically conjure up summer. So put away your bias and get in the spirit. Drink away the afternoon and leave your impulses at the table. Take a little risk, make a move and blame it all on spring fever. Want to get crazy? Order a rosé Champagne, like Laurent Perrier Cuvee Brut Rosé.
- White drinkers rejoice as warm weather approaches. That said, there are some real power players disguised as light whites that have dimension, a whole host of interesting aromas, and an alcohol content that is anything but light. White wines can be mind-opening and enlightening. Some people even find them to be more stimulating than coffee! Italian whites are my favorite place to start, as they come at very approachable prices and offer incredible variety. Orvieto is a blend of indigenous grapes like Malvasia and Trebbiano from the area where Tuscany, Umbria, and Lazio meet. These are incredibly floral and mineral with a dry or slightly off-dry finish and a great acidity. They’re wonderful food wines as they pair with all kinds of delicious offerings from seafood and salads to heartier pasta sauces like carbonara or matriciana. Think tomato or egg-based with anything but red meat. I also love Sicilian whites like Inzolia and Grillo for their steely minerality and amazing citrus overtones. Campania (Naples and the Amalfi Coast) also produces fantastic white wines made from grapes grown on volcanic soil. Look for Falanghina and Fiano d’Avellino.
These are wines to have in a cozy wine bar while it’s still a little chilly, or outdoors when the sun is starting to fade. They’ll surprise you and give you plenty to talk about. They also have a come-hither quality that keeps you wanting just a little bit more. And that’s exactly what you’ll want to exude come springtime.