After a winter spent hibernating by the fireplace with heavier red wines and ports, the warmer weather arriving in spring and early summer makes us feel like shedding those heavy wines (not unlike shedding our heavy clothes) for wines that are more light, crisp and refreshing in style.
This is also the season for many outdoor activities and special events such as graduations, weddings and bridal showers, or family reunions and picnics. Let’s take a minute today to look at wines that we at Wines by Jennifer® have found to be appropriate and popular for these events:
Verdi Raspberry Sparkletini or Moscatos from Italy are clean, crisp, light in body, low in alcohol, and tend to be sweeter, so they are very appropriate for a graduation celebration. The Sparkletini is a sparkling wine that’s made with a touch of malt liquor, and has been a popular seller at Wines by Jennifer®. The Moscato can be found as a sparkler or as a “still” wine, and is produced primarily in the Asti area of Piedmont in northern Italy.
Weddings and Bridal Showers
Bellinis are always a big hit at weddings and bridal showers. The Bellini was invented in 1948 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy by the head bartender at the time, Giuseppe Cipriani. Cipriani was particularly fond of Italian white peaches and had been experimenting to find the perfect cocktail using them as a base. When he stumbled upon the combination of white peaches and the Italian sparkling wine, Prosecco, he knew he had something.
The very basic Bellini recipe calls for one ounce of peach puree for every five ounces of chilled sparkling wine. Avoid the temptation to use French Champagne in the recipe because the rich flavor of the Champagne is not a particularly good match for such a fruity cocktail.
Off-dry German Rieslings are another good choice for a wedding or bridal shower. The longer fermentation process employed in making these wines means more residual sugar is converted to alcohol, with the expected result of a slightly more tart and less sweet wine that is slightly higher in alcohol.
We also often recommend a nice, dry Spanish Cava for the wedding toast. While Cavas are made in the Champagne method, they are usually a much better value than true French Champagnes. Be aware that Cavas are not the only type of sparkling wine made in Spain and consumers are sometimes fooled into accepting something inferior. True Cavas can be distinguished by a four-pointed star on the cork.
Like Champagne, Cava comes in varying degrees of sweetness according to the sugar content. The different styles, listed from driest to sweetest, are as follows:
Unlike Champagne, Cava will not improve with age. On the contrary, it will deteriorate with age, so buy it and drink it preferably within the same week.
One last note on Cavas: the sweeter the Cava, the cooler it should be served. While a Brut Nature can be served practically at room temperature, a Semi-seco should be well chilled.
Family Reunions and Picnics
Midwesterners take great pride in their barbeque, and family reunions and picnics are some of the best opportunities to show off those BBQ skills. Whether smoking a rack of ribs or just throwing a steak on the grill, we have a couple of candidates for you to choose from to complement your food:
The Australian Shiraz is an inherently smoky and juicy wine (just like your food), with loads of dark red fruit flavors that match perfectly with grilled meats. The Barossa Valley region in particular is producing some terrific wines that are also good values.
Another fine pairing with barbeque that may be less recognizable than the Shiraz (or Syrah) is the Spanish Garnacha. Known elsewhere around the world as Grenache, this wine is not as bold as the Shiraz, but is a real treat with lighter meats like pork ribs, wild caught salmon filet, or grilled steelhead trout. Spanish wines are generally less expensive relative to other wine-producing areas, but they are producing some excellent wines that are good values in general.