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Drinks: Lighten up for spring

Talbott chardonnays definitely deserve your attention.

Talbott chardonnays definitely deserve your attention. Photo Credit: Handout

Spring lightens up everything, including what you're drinking.

Not that I'm waiting for the first fiddlehead ferns. But artichokes and asparagus taste better this time of year. Even fennel does.

And so does a shelf's worth of whites and reds.

The brisk and flavorful 2011 Battistini Gavi puts you in the mood for fried fish and fried vegetables, maybe even a very early taste of pasta with pesto. The citrusy, nutty Piedmontese white is about $17.

To go with some grilled chicken or lamb chops, even a quick eggplant Parmigiana, try the versatile 2009 Banfi Rosso di Montalcino, a plummy delight that comes in at $23.

The 2010 Lucien Albrecht Reserve Riesling works with asparagus, a tricky and finicky vegetable to pair with wine. You'll also like this riesling with ham, cured meats, patés, smoked salmon and Asian dishes. About $20.

Barbecued ribs and hamburgers find their partner with the full-flavored 2009 Peter Lehmann Barossa Shiraz, which also has an affinity with roasted and grilled lamb, plus a pizza with all the toppings. This Australian is about $17.

Grilled meats and highly seasoned fare are ideal with the outstanding 2009 Beckmen Purisima Mountain Grenache, a Santa Ynez Valley star with notes of cherry and spice. About $45.

And if you're in the mood for lobster, crab, scallops or either chicken or pasta with cream sauce: Try the 2010 Talbott Sleepy Hollow Vineyard Chardonnay, a rich, toasty, citrusy white with peach notes. It's $40 or less.

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