March is the gateway from winter to spring, from puffy coats to light jackets, from hunkering down to drinks on the patio. This means it’s also a great moment to transition from those full-bodied winter wines to something lighter. Maybe popping the cork on something zippy and fresh will signal to the universe that it’s time for warmer weather.
Here’s a rundown of some popular grown-in-PA grapes. Put together a fun flight that elucidates the gradient between full-bodied wines and lighter varietals. Drinking them in sequence tells a story that’s perfect for spring.
Cabernet Sauvignon: This is the classic red, boasting bold tannins and notes of black currant and tobacco.
Petite Sirah: Looking for something a bit more unusual? This deep, dark red features flavors of blueberry, licorice, plums, and black pepper.
Merlot: This easy-drinking grape produces wines that are smooth and fresh, with prominent berry notes.
Cabernet Franc: This varietal is known for its savory, bell pepper-like flavors, high acidity and complex aroma — inhale hints of tobacco, spice, and violets.
Pinot Noir: Lighter in color than most reds, this beloved varietal evolves as it ages: The flavors of red berry and black cherry are increasingly complemented by earthy, mushroom notes.
Zweigelt: Austrian in origin, this varietal produces distinctive wines that showcase exotic spice, cherry, and floral flavors alongside aromas of cinnamon and violets.
Oaked Chardonnay: Aged in oak barrels, this popular white picks up aromas of vanilla and spice from the wood; those flavors compliment notes of baked apple, grilled pineapple, and butterscotch.
Viognier: This lush wine — which can also be aged in oak — is beloved for its aromas of peach, tangerine, honeysuckle and rose petal.
Pinot Grigio: This dry, zesty varietal is acidic and bright, with notes of lemons, green apples, and honeysuckle.
Sauvignon Blanc: A refreshing wine, this white is known for its minerality and intense aromatics — think passionfruit, grass, and tomatillo.
Albariño: Bone-dry and rich with citrus flavors, this varietal marries a subtle brininess with aromas of grapefruit, honeysuckle, and pear.
Riesling: Available in both dry and off-dry styles, this wine’s calling card is its high acidity. Tasting notes include apples, apricots, peaches, and pears.