There's nothing like the day when the first spring produce arrives at the market. Tender asparagus and mushrooms, fragrant leeks, young peas and potatoes—these are harbingers of warmer weather after a long, cold winter. And of course, the melting snow and rising temperatures make a perfect excuse for a dinner party, neighborhood potluck or family gathering. We've created three recipes, a salad, main dish and side dish, that celebrate the best of early spring, using ingredients commonly found in your local grocery, whether there's still snow on the ground or not. And, of course, we've provided suggestions for some great, food-friendly wines—Rieslings and Pinot Noirs, to be exact—that will pair well with the menu.
FIRST COURSE: Grilled Leek, Potato and Asparagus Salad, paired with Riesling
|Don't peel your potatoes: The skin keeps the spuds from falling apart when grilled.|
The wine: The citrus, herbal and mineral elements common to Riesling make it a natural partner to grilled vegetable salads such as this. Fine-tuning tip: If you're pouring a wine that's on the sweeter side, like the Snoqualmie or Pacific Rim, add a pinch of sugar or dash of honey to the dressing.
|Take advantage of all the varieties of edible mushrooms in your market.|
The wine: Pinot Noir is a classic choice for pairing with salmon and mushrooms, because its relative light body, smooth tannins and bright acidity cut through the richness of the fish and the mushrooms' earthiness. Fine-tuning tip: For a wine with more pronounced tannins, add a splash of heavy cream or a knob of butter to the finished mushroom puree, along with the mustard. A wine with some spice in its flavor profile can be nicely balanced with a pinch of smoked paprika over the finished dish.
|ALKOOMI Riesling Frankland River 2007||89||$20|
|Distinctive, with a tart edge to the lime and mineral flavors, lingering on the pointed, focused finish. Drink now through 2017. 6,000 cases made.
|SNOQUALMIE Riesling Columbia Valley Winemaker's Select 2006||87||$8|
|Sweet but not cloying, showing its apple, pear and honey flavors on an
open texture. Drink now. 34,000 cases made.
|PACIFIC RIM Riesling America Dry NV||86||$11|
|Crisp and refreshing, barely off-dry, with lively pear and floral
flavors, veering a bit toward perfumy on the finish. Drink now. 85,000 cases
|ANTONIN RODET Mercurey 2005||89||$22|
| A fruity, blackberry- and cassis-flavored red, lush and supple, with
ripe tannins already submerged into the profile. Enjoyable now for its fresh fruit, but should age well too. Drink
now through 2018. 4,000 cases made.
|EOLA HILLS Pinot Noir Oregon 2006||87||$12|
|Light in texture, with ripe raspberry and strawberry fruit, hinting at
mint as the finish lingers gently. Drink now through 2010. 20,000 cases made.
|CASTLE ROCK Pinot Noir Mendocino County 2006||86||$12|
|Aromas of ripe cherry, tree bark and wild raspberry are elegant,
stylish and balanced, with nice focus and a lingering finish. Drink now. 110,000 cases
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