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Stop stressing over matching your wine to the current temp—these expert-selected transitional options aim to please in any season.

By Betty Gold
March 11, 2021
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As the end of winter is fast approaching (at least that's what they say), we've finally reached that time of year where the weather can range from snowing on Monday to feeling like spring by Friday. We don't want to rock your world by making you choose between a warming cabernet and a refreshing glass of rosé—instead, we've rounded up seven wines that are perfect for this transitional period, and can be joyfully sipped no matter what the weather outside is saying.

Riesling

“For transitioning wines from winter to spring, the main thing I look for is to lighten up the body and texture slightly—imagine putting your heavy wool coat away and transitioning to a denim jacket!” says Sarah Tracey, a sommelier, wine writer, and wine educator. “For so many seasonal drinkers that prefer white wines in warmer weather, springtime is undoubtedly riesling season. Whether your preferred riesling region is Germany, New York's Finger Lakes, or the Pacific Northwest, it's going to taste like sunshine in a glass. With early spring produce like ramps, asparagus, and spring peas, riesling is always a great pairing. Try Red Tail Ridge 'Good Karma' 2017', or Chateau Ste. Michele Riesling 2019.”

Italian Friuli

"When looking for the perfect transitional wine between winter and spring, look for white wines that are medium to full in body and exude freshness, like Italy's Friulano,” says Jen Saxby, a certified sommelier and wine buyer at Benchmark Wine Group. “From mountain influence to coastal vineyards, Friuli-Venezia Giulia, the northeast Italian region that borders Slovenia, has it all. This biodiverse landscape plants between the mountains and the sea gives Firulano its signature depth, complexity, and freshness. One of my favorites is the Friulian wine company, Livio Felluga, which produces a Friulano bursting with aromas of lemon citrus, wild meadow flowers, ripe stone fruits. The flavors get fused together with balsamic hints of sage and thyme, too. It offers excellent mouthfeel with a traditional slightly bitter note in the finish.”

Pouilly-Fuissé

“You will never go wrong with a Pouilly-Fuissé, especially the Chateau Fuisse Pouilly Fuissé Tête de Cuvee 2018. This estate dates back to 1604 and has been in the Vincent family for five generations,” explains Caroline McCarthy, a French fine wine specialist at Frederick Wildman and Sons. “The Tête de Cuvee is a blend of over 20 prime vineyard sites and an excellent introduction to Chateau Fuisse’s Burgundies. This wine is rich and robust, with lean acidity and freshness, the little bit of richness is ideal for transitioning to warmer weather.”

Rosé

“A primary consideration in food and wine pairing is to match the body of a wine with the ingredients in your dish to assure that the wine does not overpower the food you will be enjoying,” says Jim Gerakaris, a sommelier and certified wine educator. “You’ll also want to make sure that the wines you pair with lighter, fresher cuisine (which we turn to in the spring months) has balanced acidity, which provides a refreshing cleansing effect on our palate. Rosé is probably the most versatile and most overlooked of all food pairing wines. The JUSTIN Rosé is a particularly refreshing and extremely food-friendly wine that is enjoyable all year round, but really rises to the occasion as the welcomed spring weather starts to give us some fresher ingredient options. Its lighter body and flavors of red berries, red apple, and subtle herbal notes remind us of warmer weather and provide an extremely versatile pairing wine.”

“And if you’re looking for something sparkling, Nyetimber Rosé is the perfect bottle of bubbles to welcome the spring with flavors of tart strawberry, cranberry, and rhubarb along with an underlying note of freshly baked baguette,” says Jhonel Faelnar, wine director at Atomix. “Truth be told, it's a versatile wine that transcends the seasons and can be enjoyed year-round, with great food and even better company in tow!”

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Pinot Noir

“Just because temperatures are warming up doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking red wine,” says Brooke Sabel, wine director at Gary’s Wine. “You won’t go wrong choosing light-to-medium bodied wines with higher acid and lower tannins. The 2018 Banshee Pinot Noir is one my favorites. It’s hard to find great pinot noir under $20, but this one shines well beyond its price point. Loaded with ripe cherries, wild mushrooms, and fresh herbs, this is a great pairing for everything from fish to anything fresh off the grill. It’ll match the incredible spring aromatics and bring refreshing acidity to complement any dish. Trust me, you’ll be reaching for another sip before you know it.”

Italian Reds From Valpolicella

“The Santi winery is situated in one of the most cherished winemaking regions in Italy near Lake Garda,” says Sara Maule, Italian fine wine brand manager and specialist at Frederick Wildman and Sons. “The winery meticulously sources its wood for aging, in which the Santi “Ventale” Valpolicella Superiore DOC 2017 is aged for 18 months in 70 percent oak, 20 percent chestnut, and 10 percent cherry wood. The result is a ruby red wine with notes of dark fruit and velvety tannins that mimics your favorite berry jams to spread on a toasted slice.”

Bold, Balanced Malbec

“The Luigi Bosca winery, Argentina’s oldest family-owned winery, is situated in Mendoza with vineyards between 780 and 1,150 meters above sea level, watered by pure melt-water streaming down from the Andes Mountains,” says Amanda Paul-Garnier, director of GIV, Italian fine wines, and new world wines at Frederick Wildman and Sons. “The terroir yields a malbec—the Luigi Bosca Malbec DOC—that shows ripe red fruit, spices, black pepper, and plenty of tannins with a smooth velvety finish.”