Across most of the country, May marks the official start of picnic and patio season; it’s also a month of celebratory brunches and bridal showers. When hosting these daytime gatherings, leave highly oaked, overtly tannic and heavily fruity bottles on the shelf and bring out wines that are as bright, fresh and easygoing as a mid-spring day.
* Snoqualmie 2009 Columbia Valley “Naked” Riesling ($10): Versatile, food-friendly Riesling meshes marvelously with picnic foods from potato salad to cheese and charcuterie. Made from organically grown grapes, this subtly sweet version sings with the purity of fruit.
* Cupcake Vineyards Prosecco (Italy; $14) Launched just last year, this Italian white bubbly is light, fresh and clean with hints of melon and citrus and a gentle sparkle reminiscent of a bright May afternoon. It’s a shoo-in with brunch.
* Dry Creek Vineyard 2009 Dry Chenin Blanc (Clarksburg, California; $12): This bottle shows off the dry, crisp side Chenin Blanc, but with plenty of juicy tropical fruits to make it a luscious and refreshing daytime sip.
* Hugel “Cuvée les Amours” 2008 Pinot Blanc (Alsace, France; $12/375-ml bottle). When it’s just the two of you on a picnic blanket in the great outdoors, share a well-chilled half bottle of this rounded yet crisp, elegant bottle.
* Donelli Lambrusco “1915” (Grasparossa di Castelvetro; $12): Before you dismiss Lambrusco as cloyingly sweet, try this more balanced bottle. It’s a good choice for those who prefer dry red wines, yet want something low in alcohol and refreshing enough for daytime enjoyment. Try it with grilled meats as we head into barbecue season.
By Wini Moranville, Relish wine columnist