Giving up Wine for Lent…well, maybe just some wines.

For those practicing Catholics out there, Lent is just around the corner. Without getting too theological, this period leading up to Easter is a time of prayer, penance and giving up something for 40 days that would be considered a sacrifice. Unlike my cousin who gives up white wine every year ( I have seen him drink white wine once in my entire life ), I am taking this opportunity to lay off some of my favorite wines. As a kicker, I am sick of this stinkin’ winter and making a move to some more Spring styled selections. If that Groundhog can’t bring in the warm weather, maybe the WWG can!

The first wine on the list… Napa Cabs. This is going to be tough but necessary if we are talking both about sacrifice as well as avoiding the wines that keep you warm on those cold winter nights. I will certainly miss the lush currant and black cherry flavors, as well as the sweet vanilla and cedar nuances. However I will try to fill the void with the wines of Chianti. While they may not be as big and bold as those Napa Cabs, they offer wonderful fruit and oak complexities that are a bit lighter in nature. Just what the doctor ordered for those warmer Spring days.

The next wines to give up will be the Rhone Reds. I know that’s pretty general, but I am a sucker for almost all the wines from that region (Cotes du Rhones, Chateauneuf du Pape, Gigondas, Crozes Hermitage, etc) These Grenache/Syrah based reds are meaty, hearty and fruit driven wines that can be both powerful and sophisticated at the same time. Instead I will try and venture into the lighter side of France and jump on the Beaujolais train.

While most people are only familiar with the simple and fruity Beaujolais Nouveau, there are some fantastic wines from the Beaujolais-Villages and Cru Beaujolais areas. These wines can be soft and supple with cherry pie, raspberry and smoky characteristics that cry for the warmer weather to commence. Also unlike the more basic Nouveau style, the finer crafted wines can be very food friendly and benefit from aging.

Lastly, it’s time to say goodbye to those big, buttery and oaky Chardonnays. While they are perfectly suited for those fireside evenings while watching the snow fall, they are not meant for the sun and fun that we are trying to evoke here. Nothing says Spring like a crisp and refreshing glass of Pinot Grigio, especially the ones from the Collio DOC. If all those floral and citrus aromas and flavors can’t lift us off into the Spring, I just don’t know what can.

Below are some suggestions for each of my “Lent” wines… and of course even if you don’t participate in Lent, these wines are a fun and enjoyable way to ring in the new season. Cheers!

CHIANTI

Under $15

2009 Querceto Chianti

2008 Banfi Chianti Classico

$16-30

2007 Vitticio Chianti Classico Riserva

2006 Rocca delle Macie Chianti Classico Riserva

$30 and Up

2005 Ruffino Chianti Classico Riseva Ducale  Oro Gold Label

2006 Ricasoli Chianti Classico Castello di Brolio

BEAUJOLAIS

Under $15

2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages

2009 Georges Duboeuf Morgon

$16-30

2009 Chateau des Jacques, Louis Jadot Moulin a Vent

2009 Chateau de Pierreux  Brouilly

PINOT GRIGIO

Under $15

2009 Zenato

2009 Barone Fini Valdadige ( Half the price as Santa Margherita and just as good!)

$16-30

2009 Livio Felluga Collio

2009 Fiegl Collio

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