Photo by Denise Hung
“As long as you’re buying well-made, small-production bottles, bubbly is always a good food wine. The carbonation, the acidity, and the minerality, make it well-suited for so many dishes,” Bryan says.
“Most food contains some sort of fat, and you always want to pair fat with some kind of acidity that cuts through it. Besides, who doesn’t love bubbles?”
The best bit: You don’t have to spend your entire tax refund on a decent bottle. Bryan notes that there are plenty of great Champagnes, Cavas, and Proseccos on the market now that range from $35-60 a pop.
Here’s a rundown on some of her other favorite springtime wines, and the produce they go best with:
LAMB: Spring lamb is often associated with pinot noir, but Bryan believes that the gaminess overpowers the subtlety of the wine. “If you’re not going to go with the traditional red wine, stick with tempranillo or a French Syrah, whose spicy character is really nice next to the lamb,” she says. Watch out for the Aussie syrahs, though, which are a bit more fruity and would overpower the dish. Byran says that dry Riesling, with it’s high acidity and full body, is the next best bet, especially if you’re looking to go with white wine.
ARUGULA: Sorry wine snobs, sometimes vino simply isn’t the answer. For the peppery, herbaceousness of arugula, Bryan prefers to pour an elegant pale ale. North Coast Brewery’s soft yet hoppy Acme Pale Ale is one of her favorites. “It’s almost feminine. It’s soft and pretty with a bitter bite from the hops,” she says. “It’s not always that opposites attract when making pairings. It’s sometimes nice to pair the characteristics of the food and beverage with each other.”
GRILLED ARTICHOKES: “Sometimes it’s really nice to choose your wine first, but if you’re going to drink a great bottle of Brunello, why not let some great, fresh, simple food with it like a grilled artichoke.” Another great wine to pair with ‘chokes: Italian Sangiovese.
RHUBARB: Dry rose not only pairs with rhubarb color-wise but also meshes well with it’s unique tartness. Of course, the best pairing is Byran’s favorite, “farmer fizz,” or bubbly that was both grown and bottled by the same farmer. “Only 10% of all champagne is made from farmers who are growing his own grapes, bottling his own wine, and making it as naturally as it can be. It’s truly farmer to bottle,” says Bryan. Look for labels with the marking RM, which stands for Récoltant-Manipulant, or harvester and handler.