Monday, March 25, 2013

Wines for Spring's Lighter Fare

It's a spring fling

Let's toast to toastier weather hopefully arriving soon.
Spring has sprung and with it the annual transition to lighten up our fashions and our foods. 
Coats give way to capris and hot soups are replaced with refreshing salads. 

As chefs welcome warmer weather with new crops of fresh ingredients their menus begin to morph with brighter notes and lighter fare. Wines change with the seasonal menu shift too. 

“More white wines and roses are emerge in the spring while chunky reds are not as much in full force,” says Michael Bryan, of Vino Venue and the Atlanta Wine School. Offering over two hundred classes a year on food and wine, Bryan’s team of wine and culinary experts present guidelines for pairing, “The goal is to find the right balance like able dance partners.”  
Michael Bryan of Vino Venue and Atlanta Wine School

Spring’s fresher flavors call for wines with fresh flavors. For instance, Bryan says a halibut dish presented with a mango, lime, jalapeno chutney would partner well with a New Zealand sauvignon blanc because the wine has melon and fresh tropical notes.
Pairing wines with vegetables
Springtime in Shafer Vineyards in Napa

Most of the time wines are chosen based on the protein portion of a dish. But, Annette Shafer of Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley offers advice for vegetable focused menus. Shafer, who is the wife of winemaker Doug Shafer, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a wellness coach in Napa.
Visit Shafer Vineyards when you're in Napa 

Annette Shafer says, Certain vegetables and herbs virtually always complement wines such as shallots, leeks, corn, peas, fava beans, and mushrooms. Among herbs and seasonings, good choices are thyme, sesame oil, and a hint of lightly cooked garlic.”

Shafer notes that how vegetables are cooked can change things a bit too.  “Roasting vegetables in a hint
of olive oil adds a rich quality that makes wine a good partner.” One of her favorites is butternut squash
roasted until just tender. “Finish it all off with a bit of shaved Asiago or manchego and you can enjoy
any wine in the gamut from a lively Chardonnay to a rich, bold Cabernet,” she suggests.

Grilled vegetables crave bolder bottles
Grilling vegetables creates a savory quality with toasty caramelized flavors that can match deliciously with wines such as Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel and even a less tannic Cabernet.  Bryan says the char created when grilling foods asks you to bring up the intensity of a wine, “You need a bigger dance partner.”

Shafer is known for their big reds but they make beautiful wines for lighter fare too.

Annette Shafer is ready for spring!

Annette Shafer’s wine and vegetable matches
   The earthiness of mushrooms with an earthy Pinot Noir or a fruit-forward Merlot
   The high acidity of tomatoes with the crisp acidity of a Pinot Gris or Sangiovese — even a fruit-forward Syrah
   The sweetness of corn or sugar snap peas with the off-dry fruit of a Chenin Blanc, 
            or a well-balanced Chardonnay

Cheers to Spring!


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What about roasted vegetables, sweet and unctous washed down with a nice robust Cabernet?

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