Everywhere I go there seems to be a sense of anticipation. People are fidgeting and are a little impatient as the weather keeps teasing us with the promise of spring.
I understand that "April showers bring May flowers" but, come on, it's already the middle of May! I love the spring with it's lovely temperate days. Ah, spring ... the sight of the trees in bloom and the smell of fresh-cut grass from the local baseball field. And the taste? The taste is light, refreshing white wine from around the world.
Now is the time when most restaurants freshen their menu to include the flavors of the season: spring peas, mushrooms, asparagus, fava beans and green garlic. These are not the easiest ingredients to pair with wine, so you need to think outside the box.
With this much emphasis on green, it's best to stick with light-bodied white wines with some aromatic notes to them. Aromatic means that the smell of the wine jumps out of the glass and says "Hello!"
Riesling is a great example of this, and The Palm Steakhouse at Tropicana Casino and Resort offers Eroica Riesling, a wine produced by the joint efforts of Chateau Ste. Michelle Winery in Washington state and Dr. Ernie Loosen, one of the world's premier wine makers in Mosel, Germany.
It has that wonderful peach, apricot and honeysuckle aromas and flavors that make Riesling so charming and would be perfect with the Louis "Gigi" Delmaestro salad with shrimp, green beans, tomato, onion, bacon, iceberg lettuce, roasted pepper, egg and avocado tossed in garlic vinaigrette. The slight sweetness of the wine will bring these flavors together.
For a perfect taste of spring, visit Wolfgang Puck American Grille at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa. The spring green garlic soup with wild mushroom and shallot-herb creme fraiche is a delicious delight of the season's best ingredients.
The pungent, herbal flavors would pair with Kiralyudvar Sec from Tokaj, Hungary. Wines from this magical region of the world are best known for the heavenly sweetness they can achieve, but recently the dry wines have been receiving high praise.
Imagine the aromas of ripe nectarine, warm white peach, dried apricot, orange zest and fresh-cut lilies. From that description, you'd expect the wine to be sweet, but no. The flavors of lemongrass, candied orange peel and tangy minerality flood your mouth. The finish lingers.
At the historic Knife & Fork Inn, you can enjoy the spring green salad with asparagus, tomatoes, parmesan and roasted garlic vinaigrette with Pascal Jolivet Pouilly Fume from the Loire Valley, France. This is sauvignon blanc at its most expressive.
There are aromas and flavors of lemon zest and lime peel finish with racy acidity and dry minerality. Asparagus can be tricky to pair with wine, but with the expertise of the wine maker, these flavors are a great match with the fresh ingredients of the salad.
I hope your mouth is watering and your tummy is tempted to take a bite out of the season and sip on a little spring. Cheers!
Anjoleena Griffin-Holst is Wine Director at Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa since March 2006 and is the only female wine director at a casino-resort in the United States. She helped establish Borgata's reputation for its impressive wine selection, which includes more than 40,000 bottles and recently received four separate Best of Award of Excellence and two Award of Excellence by Wine Spectators 2011 Restaurant Awards. Her column will run every other week.