food and organic wine pairing

Spring: It’s a word that traditionally invokes images of flowers blossoming, birds chirping and many glasses of wine being enjoyed outdoors. It’s also a season associated with fresh, vibrant foods that some of us have gone without for months; a time to say “goodbye” to hearty soups and “hello” to energizing dishes and the refreshing wines that go with them. 

Below are five foods at their prime in spring, each paired with a different organic wine varietal. Not only are these foods at their peak during the spring season, but they’re also packed with nutritional benefits, giving “spring cleaning” a whole new meaning.

1. Artichokes

Artichokes are rich in cynarine, a naturally occurring chemical constituent known to aid digestion and bolster functions of both the liver and gall bladder. When eaten with wine, however, the artichoke’s cynarine usually augments the beverage’s sweetness, which calls for a white varietal like Riesling. We recommend Washington’s Badger Mountain Organic Riesling, which not only carries the USDA Organic logo, but is also made with no additional sulfites. Try it with our recipe for Grilled Artichokes with Olive Oil, Lemon and Fresh Herbs.

2. Fava Beans

Frequently known as “broad beans,” fava beans are especially rich in fiber (containing 85% of the recommended daily value), iron and protein. April marks the beginning of the season for these beans, which are often used to make various types of hummus.

Given the buttery, fairly rich flavor of fava beans, dishes containing them (such as this Arugula & Fava Bean Bruschetta) are best paired with a medium bodied, aromatic white, such as a Pinot Gris. We like Pheasant Valley Estate Organic Pinot Gris out of Oregon, carrying the USDA Organic logo and uniquely made with flavors of pear and stone fruit.

3. Sea Bass

Though sea bass is widely enjoyed during spring months (adult fish migrate inshore and northward as the weather and water temperatures become warmer), it’s important to enjoy it sustainably. Many are aware of Chilean sea bass’s eco-unfriendly nature, but the fish can still be enjoyed if obtained through environmentally responsible means, such as farmed striped bass (also known as Palmetto Bass, Sunshine Bass or Suzuki) or Black Sea Bass from the Mid-Atlantic, where efforts have been made to reduce overfishing.

Sea bass is known to be a relatively meatier fish than most and is best enjoyed grilled in warmer weather, complimented by fresh herbs or a tropical fruit like mango. A crisp white is well matched to such a robust combination of flavors, Sauvignon Blanc being a top pick. Check out California’s Frey Mendocino Organic Sauvignon Blanc, complete with the USDA Organic logo and no detectable sulfites.

4. Lamb

For many, “spring” means “Easter” and, within that group, “Easter” often means “lamb.” Lamb is sometimes associated with feasts and gluttony, but in reality (and moderation), lamb is something of a power food. Four ounces contain 60.3% of the recommended daily value of protein and roughly 30% of the RDV for zinc. Additionally, lamb is rich in Vitamin B12, which helps the body metabolize protein, carbohydrates and fat more efficiently and aids in maintaining weight loss.

Tempranillo finely accompanies lamb’s tender nature, which is complimented by this red’s dark, smoky taste. One pick is Spartico Organic Tempranillo from Spain, advertised as carrying not only the USDA Organic logo and no added sulfites, but also the European EcoCert organic certification seal. Try it with Gordon Ramsay’s Herb Crusted Rack of Lamb recipe.

5. Basil

Spring is an excuse to put basil in everything; salads, drinks, sorbet and more. Nothing quite says, “warmer months are here” than a tomato and basil salad, especially once the herb reaches its spring/summer peak. What’s more, basil is naturally rich in flavonoids and volatile oils, each shown to respectively prevent radiation/oxygen-based damage and bacterial growth.

Many basil-based dishes are complimented by a rosé. This wine’s fruity and rich nature enhances the basil’s fragrant, almost mint-like flavor and texture. A chilled glass of California’s LaRocca Organic Zinfandel Rosé, both USDA certified organic and free of added sulfites, is a top accompaniment to a crisp basil dish, particularly when other zesty elements like pepper are added.

image: erix!