Austria might not be the first country that comes to mind when you think of wine but it should be. The combination of Austria’s long history of winemaking and the food- friendly style of their wines make them a favorite with sommeliers around the world.
During Spring on our way to Summer, thoughts of red wine tend to wane. Instead the wines that we find most appealing are fresh, bright white wines that are perfect for relaxing on the deck or a cookout with your closest friends. Here are some great whites to have on hand that are perfect for spring sipping and to freshen up your wine list.
Make Your Spring Sparkle!
Prosecco is a sparkling wine made in the Veneto region of Italy. Traditionally it is softer and fruitier than most Brut (dry) Champagne or sparkling wines. A great starter for wine tastings or dinners, Prosecco is also extremely food friendly and appeals to a wide range of wine drinkers. In all the years I have been leading corporate and public wine tastings I have never met someone who does not like Prosecco! Soft, sparkling with fruit flavors of apple, pear and citrus, Prosecco is a great Spring sparkler. What’s even better is that most quality Prosecco usually retails $25 or under.
Not Your Mother’s Soave
Soave, also from Veneto, is another refresher not to miss. The biggest challenge for this wine is overcoming its history. In the 1970s, the region was expanded to include some lesser vineyards and many unscrupulous producers churned out unremarkable wines. This is the same reputation that Chianti had to overcome after the basket-bottomed days of the seventies. It is no surprise that Soave literally translated means “smooth” since many of the best wines from this region have a rich smoothness with aromas of almond, citrus and a hint of white flowers. Soave is named after the town it hails from rather than the grapes, Garganega and Trebbiano, which are blended to create the wine. For the finest examples, look for Soave Classico (wines from the best Soave vineyards) or Classico Superiore (aged more before release).
Drink Like a Somm
If you asked sommeliers from around the country what their favorite white wines are, you would no doubt hear Grüner Veltliner over and over again. Pronounced GROO-ner VELT-leen-er, in Europe they shorten the name and simply order a glass of GrüV (pronounced groovy). An indigenous white grape from Austria, Grüner Veltliner, is my secret weapon at Spring get togethers. Grüner Veltliners are known for aromas of white pepper, citrus, granny smith apples with a sometimes spicy finish. The bright fruit flavors with balancing acidity, make Grüners a great match for lots of dishes.
Spring Brews Too
It wouldn’t be Spring without an ice cold brew which in some cases can be more refreshing than wine. There are two special types of beers that are great in the Spring, Pilsner and Weisse. Pilsner or Pils is a light golden lager with a dry malty flavor typically accented with the floral flavors of hops. It is one of the most popular styles of beer in the world. Another great Spring beer called Weisse (or Hefeweizen) uses malted wheat instead of barley for the main ingredient. This beer is cloudy with a yeasty quality accented by a tart finish. Weisse is known for its spicy flavors of orange peel, banana, vanilla and believe it or not bubble gum! To get the sweet and sour effect, these beers are sometimes served with either a lemon or an orange slice although it is not traditional or necessary to do so.
So if you need to find the perfect wine to kick off Spring try one of these:
Bisol Prosecco Crede Brut NV, Veneto, Italy
Named after the soils in this region called crede, this wine has the perfect foundation for Prosecco grapes to flourish and create this amazingly fragrant, refreshing sparkler, with flavors of apple, peach and a note of floral. This food friendly wine only has 11% alcohol—a perfect starter or brunch wine! Retail: $18
Other brands to look for: Botter, Carpene Malvolti, Nino Franco “Rustico” or Canella
Prà Soave Classico, Veneto, Italy
Looking for a great white for your next backyard gathering? This handcrafted Soave from Prà tastes nothing like the 1970s jug versions. Citrus fruits dominate the palate of this rich white and finishes with food friendly crispness—great paired with seafood, salads or just to get things started. Retail: $17
Other brands to look for spring sipping: Pieropan, Anselmi, Inama or Gini