By Jim Walker
Signal Staff Writer
Somewhere between winter, where you sip your full-bodied red in front of the fireplace while snuggled under your comforter, and summer, where you gulp your light white while you soak in a tub full of ice, comes spring. Here, thoughts in general are turning toward freshness, lightness and the call of the outdoors. Quite often our “wine thoughts” follow suit, moving toward lighter, whiter and sweeter, with maybe even a few bubbles included. And though the wine pros also lean in this direction, be assured there are no “rules.” Your spring is yours to enjoy, and the foods and wine you choose this time of year are, as well.
Here, we will present some general spring wine suggestions, including those of Robert Reyes, owner of the 16-acre, multi-award-winning Reyes Winery in Aqua Dulce, which had its first vintage in 2005 — and also the owner of the winery’s rooftop tasting room in Old Town Newhall, which opened last December.
Crisp white wines are often favored by the pros for spring. But some also suggest pinot noir. And a riesling or sauvignon blanc would pair well with spring salads and cold shellfish. But a medium- to full-bodied Bordeaux, or a syrah, might pair well with Easter lamb. Maybe add a slight chill to the reds if you are dining outdoors.
“Springtime is the perfect time of year to start enjoying the outdoors again,” Reyes said. “This time of year, normally the lighter wines are preferred.” Sparkling wine A cool glass of bubbly is suitable to any happy occasion, particularly in the spring outdoors.
“We just recently bottled and released a couple of ‘spring’ wines,” Reyes said, “a 2019 pinot noir, and a 2018 grenache. Some wineries blend these lighter wines with darker wines for color, but we chose to leave them 100% their own varietals. These wines are light, fruity, very friendly and exhibit the true characteristics of their varietals. They go really well with just about anything, but the lighter foods are preferred.”
“Reyes Winery also makes really nice white wines, such as chardonnay or our ‘orange’ or ‘amber’ wine,” he added. “Amber wine is a unique wine to try this time of year. If you have never had it, I suggest you try it.”
Don’t get overly caught up in the specifics of what pairs with what. Just follow the general guideline to imagine the “weight” of the food versus the “weight” of the wine. Delicate dishes are best paired with subtle wines. More complex or heavy dishes might need a bolder wine partner. And you might offer your guests more than one wine choice, especially if they have menu choices.
“I generally prefer red wines,” Reyes said, “and recently tried our pinot noir with the lobster Benedict served for brunch on the rooftop at Reyes Winery On Main. I thought it was delicious, and an absolutely perfect pairing.”
Though it might be a little more difficult to control outdoors, wine temperature at serving is important. Too much chill prevents your guests from tasting a wine’s subtle notes. A general guide here is to remove whites and rosés from the refrigerator about 15 minutes before serving. Reds might only need a 30-minute freshening in the refrigerator.
“When serving outdoors, I usually chill my red wines a few degrees, approximately 10 to 15 minutes in the freezer,” Reyes said. “You do not want to chill your red wines any more than a few degrees. Otherwise, you lose the nuances and true flavors of the wine.”
“It’s a great time of year to start enjoying the outdoors again,” Reyes said. “Try some new wines, and discover different wine characteristics as you pair with your spring foods.”
For more on the Reyes Winery in Agua Dulce, visit reyeswinery.com. For more on the Old Town Newhall rooftop tasting room, the Reyes Winery On Main, visit reyeswineryonmain.com.