Why we drink to the seasons is a question as simple as why we eat and dress for the seasons. Drinking a Barolo in the summertime just seems sinful, while popping a crispy Txakoli at Christmas dinner is plain silly.
SUMMER: Since we are on its eve, let’s start our chat there. They say wearing white is permitted between Memorial Day and Labor Day, so remind yourself that you should also be drinking white (or pink, or beer). However, there are exceptions to every rule— Gamay with a nice chill is fantastic with grilled fish. Sangiovese and tomatoes go together like mozzarella and basil. And when it is just too freaking hot to drink wine, have a Kölsch.
Just like there is a sense of place when drinking a wine—referring to its terroir and every aspect of nature that goes into a bottle of wine—there is also a sense of place in the seasons. On these warm days, I’m transported to the South of France and yearn for Bandol Rose. I want to wash down my fritti misti with Pigato from the Italian Riviera. When I pluck some baby lettuces from my garden for a light salad, I immediately pop an Albarino from Rias Baixas, Spain.
FALL: When Summer winds down and the nights start to get a chill, it can be exciting to throw on a light sweater with a bottle of red Burgundy (side note: my favorite pairing with Burgundy is a bowl of mushrooms). This time of year is my favorite for drinking and traveling to wine regions. Harvest is beginning or underway, and harvest meals are usually very simple cuisine. In Burgundy, these meals typically consist of bread, pates, rillettes, sausages, rabbit terrine, cheeses and fruit tarts for dessert.
Piemonte in the fall is perhaps the most beautiful place on earth. The vineyards are ablaze with orange and the air smells of burnt wood and fog. I find myself drinking Piemontese reds by the case in the fall—from the less serious, but juicy and delicious Barberas and Dolcettos— to the longer lived Langhe Nebbiolos, Barbarescos and Barolos. If you’re among the lucky, the Alba white truffle is the utmost accompaniment to these legendary wines. Shaved over pasta or eggs, the aroma is transportive.
WINTER: When snow starts to fall and the fire is roaring, there is usually some sort of braise on my stove (on Sundays I should say). Syrahs from the Northern Rhone Valley, Carignan from Languedoc, Brunello from Montalcino, and old vine Cabernet from new California are my go-tos. But anything goes with a roast or a braise.
But remember, any month that ends in “R” is the best for shucking oysters—and when I think oysters, I think CHAMPAGNE. The crispier the day, the more I want these chilly, briny snacks. Especially near the holidays when you can justify such a splurge.
SPRING: Come March, I’m ready to wash my mouth out with some acidic refreshing whites and am always excited to see the releases from the previous vintage. I have my favs, like Chenin Blanc from the small village of Jasnières in the Loire Valley and Verdicchio from the Marche in central Italy. Spring produce is just as exciting as the Alba white truffle in fall.
Peas, asparagus and ramps are followed by morel mushrooms later in the fall, and only if the conditions are right. Green vegetables can be somewhat hard to pair with wine—but Grüner Veltliner from Kamptal and Wachau in Austria often solve that dilemma.
More than anything, drinking to the seasons is fun, and always keeps your palate excited for the next shift in the air. Just like looking forward to trying out that new swimsuit or cashmere sweater. You’re always welcome to say that this piece is a bunch of garbage and drink Merlot 365 days a year. That’s your prerogative and we respect it, too!
The cru is always here to chat. Hit us up with your seasonal favorites.
- Kevin O. Hart & Cru
I am sure this reading has made you thirsty. Feel free to reach out and let us curate some incredible wine just for you.