This spring, curate wine and beer selections for your home menu by focusing on crisp, fruity flavor profiles and modest aromas. Especially if you're planning a dinner party, take advantage of seasonal picks and consider simple preparations that take 30 minutes or less, such as tender meat and seafood dishes along with chilled sides.
Spring Lamb with Fennel Salad
Tender without a trace of gaminess, spring lamb roasted medium-rare pairs smoothly with cru Beaujolais, dry rosé or young California Bordeaux blends. Or try a beer such as English or American blond ales, hefeweizen or kölsch. Serve the lamb and accompanying beverage with a salad of celery and fennel.
Directions: Coat an eight-bone rack of spring lamb and 1½ pounds of chopped spring vegetables with olive oil. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, then roast the lamb and vegetables in a 425° F oven for about 30 minutes. Mix 2 cups thinly sliced fennel, ¼ cup pine nuts and 1 cup thinly sliced celery while the lamb roasts. Mix the salad with dressing made from 3 tablespoons each olive oil and lemon juice. Top with shaved Parmesan.
Crispy Spring Chicken with Avocado Cucumber Salsa
Spring chickens (also known as "broilers") are tender and light – even the thighs. Pair this dish with a lightly oaked chardonnay, chenin blanc or viognier. Beer styles that pair well include "hoppy" lagers, amber lagers and pilsners.
Directions: Place three or four chicken quarters in a colander the day before cooking and pour boiling water over them. Pat the quarters dry and let them sit uncovered in the refrigerator overnight. Coat the quarters in olive oil and roast them in a 425° F oven for 15-20 minutes. For the salsa, mix 2 cups diced cucumbers, 1 diced jalapeno, 1 diced avocado and ¼ cup each diced red onions, chopped cilantro and mint. For the dressing, mix 1 tablespoon olive oil with 3 tablespoons lime juice and season to taste. Toss the salsa with the dressing and serve on the side.
Spring Shellfish Stew
Pair this light shellfish stew with chablis, muscadet or sauvignon blanc. If you're serving beer, try cream ale, wheat ale or Vienna lager.
Directions: Sauté 3 minced garlic cloves, 1 large onion and ½ pound sliced kale in vegetable oil until the kale begins to wilt. Add 2½ cups chopped tomatoes and ¾ pound each clams, mussels and shrimp. Add 3 cups stock and simmer for 15 minutes until ready to serve.