Celebrate Spring with Refreshing Wines

Ottawa Business Journal – Executive Dining Guide

April 11, 2005

As we welcome spring by putting away our heavy winter coats and change our ski gear for roller blades and swimming suits, we experience a sense of freedom from the cold winter months.  Coincidentally, not only our wardrobe and outdoor activities change, our foods and wine preferences change too.  Packed away for next winter are the recipes of hearty soups and stews along with dense cakes, as we enjoy the refreshing tastes of asparagus, fiddleheads and light desserts drizzled with local maple syrup.  Similarly, the tastes and flavours of spring time dishes can be enhanced when we shift away from heavy, robust and jammy wines to wines that are crisp, light and refreshing.

When shopping or perusing a restaurant’s wine lists look for these wines that are great matches for the fresh ingredients of spring.

White Wines

Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris

Pinots are refreshing, light and crisp white wines.  Italian Pinot Grigios are intended to be enjoyed young with citrus, melon and apple aromas and tastes.  They are a great wine to enjoy with light white fish, scallops, salads, and hors d’oeuvres of proscuitto and olives or simply on its own.  Pinot Gris is typically from Alsace, France and are dry with a light sweetness and floral aromas that is ideal with shellfish and salads with fruit or fruit dressings.  Beyond Italy and France, Pinots can be found from countries including Canada, New Zealand and Germany.

A Wine Tip: Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio is a great example of an Italian Pinot Grigio.  It is a LCBO Vintages Essentials, meaning that this wine is available all the time in the Vintages section, $16.

Sauvignon Blanc

Sauvignon Blancs is best known for their notable citrus, gooseberry, herbal aromas and flavours.  The wine is dry, crisp with light acidity that gives the wine a notable ‘zing’.  These characteristics make it a perfect wine that brings out the fresh flavours of asparagus and fiddleheads.  Also a great match with fish dishes with lemon butter sauce.  Sauvignon Blanc is the signature wine of New Zealand. You will also find Sauvignon Blancs from Australia, United States, Canada, France and South Africa.

Wine Tip: A classic example is Oyster Bay Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand.  LCBO Vintages Essential, $16.


A glorious apricot scented wine is making its appearances on LCBO shelves and restaurant wine lists.  It is one of France’s secrets.  The French like this wine so much that they rather keep it in France than export.  Recently however, Viogniers have arrived in Ottawa, yet they do not last long in the stores.  Intended to be enjoyed young, Voigniers are refreshing with light floral and apricot aromas that pair well with roasted chicken, light cheeses, grilled fish or simply chilled and sipped on its own.

Wine Tip: If you find some, buy it and enjoy right away.

Rosé Wines

Often perceived as sweet wines, rosés should not be overlooked. Many countries produce rosés wines ranging from light to medium bodied and intensity of the notable pink colour. Often crisp, with light acidity offering aromas and tastes of violets, cranberries and strawberries, rosés are versatile as they can be enjoyable with appetizers, salads, chicken accompanied with chutney and tapas foods.  Make a point to try a rosé…it is a great way to toast spring!

Wine Tip: The only rosé that I have found that is available year round at the LCBO is Remy Pannier Rosé D’Anjou from Loire France, $10. Now that spring is here and summer is on its way, the LCBO will undoubtedly be stocking its shelves with more rosés.

Red Wines


A classic wine from France, Beaujolais is light and refreshing with vibrant cherry and strawberry aromas and tastes.  It is an easy to drink wine.  Beware not to compare it to the heavy wines that you enjoyed this past winter.  Served at room temperature or slightly chilled, Beaujolais is great on its own or paired with hors d’oeuvres, mild cheeses, shrimp, steamed mussels in tomato sauce.

Wine Tip: George Duboeuf is a popular producer of Beaujolais with a variety of styles available.  Why not host have an impromptu wine tasting with a couple bottles to experience the different styles. Price at the LCBO range from $10 – $18

Pinot Noir

Often referred by winemakers as, ‘The Prince of Grapes’, Pinot Noir reigns as the quintessential grape and the world’s most sought after wine.  The Academy Award Winning movie Sideways that featured Pinot Noirs, has certainly heightened an awareness of this grape variety.  With its elegant aromas and flavours of earthiness, leather, fresh cherries and strawberries, Pinot Noirs are medium bodied and typically do not overpower foods, rather they are ‘food friendly’.  Try with lamb, grilled mushrooms, veal or grilled salmon.

Wine Tip: Join The Savvy Grapes for a Pinot Noir wine tasting on Friday April 29 at Nicholas Hoare Bookstore, 419 Sussex Drive.  During this cocktail style tasting, you will sample a variety of Pinots from eight Niagara wineries. This is a perfect opportunity to learn more about this grape variety in a fun relaxed setting.  Advance tickets only: $50 plus GST. Event details at http://www.thesavvygrapes.com

Whichever wines you select as you celebrate the arrival spring, savour the aromas and flavours as you pack away your snow shovel and winter boots for another year.


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