On February 2, we observe another holiday that is purely American: Groundhog Day. This seems to be the only day of the year when the weathermen forego their charts and sattellite info and rely on a rodent to predict spring. What exactly does a groundhog know about predicting weather?
Groundhog day takes place on what was originally called (and still is in other parts of the world) Candlemas Day, which earlier Christians celebrated 40 days after Christmas. According to the old adage, “For as the sun shines on Candlemas Day, so far will the snow swirl in May.”
Apparently, in ancient European weather lore a bear or badger would emerge from its winter sleeping place and, if it saw its shadow because the sun shone, it went back to its burrow and we were cursed with six more weeks of winter. If the skies were overcast, however, and the animal didn’t see its shadow, it remained outside its lair and spring was soon to come. Somehow, this led way to an Americanized version with groundhogs and now we leave the prognosticating to Punxsutawney Phil, and Staten Island Chuck.
Supposedly, today Punxsutawney Phil proclaimed,”My new Knob entrance is a sight to behold; Like my faithful followers, strong and bold; And so ye faithful, there is no shadow to see; An early Spring for you and me.”
So the lack of shadows portends an early spring is on its way.
Here are some white wine recommendations, from several countries and priced between $16 - $25 or less to welcome in an early spring.
2009 Terras Gauda Abadia de San Campio Albarino, Rias Baixas, Spain. Considered the quintessential fish wine, this white has a citrus- and mineral-focused essence with a delightful, almost fat character, but it never loses the delightful mineral tanginess of the Albariño grape. Aromas and flavors combine lemon and grapefruit with almonds, framed by bracing acidity yet offering a soft mouth feel. Bright and clear, with aromas of citrus, pineapple, lemon and a touch of herb. The crisp palate offers amazing ripe fruit flavors of melon, peach and apple, while maintaining a fantastic balance of acidity and fruit. Perfect chilled and paired with shellfish; oysters, clams and crab—or enjoy with spicy Asian cuisine.
Bollini Friuli Grave Pinot Grigio Reserve Selection 2009, Friuli, Italy: A tsunami of awful Italian pinot grigio is out there — some at much higher prices than this fresh and delicious medium-bodied wine. This well-balanced white oozes with ripe, elegant pear, melon and stone fruit aromas and flavors blending with notes of tree blossom, almond and stony minerals. The wine was made with no malolactic fermentation and extended lees contact, giving it an additional richness making it refreshing on its own or paired with a meal. Because of the citrus hints of lemon-lime and terrific acidity it is perfect for cleaning up that last bite of food from nibbles to omelets, pork or chickent dishes to cream based pasta dishes.
Bethel Heights Pinot Gris 2011, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Bethel Heights Pinot Gris offers rich aromas of Asian pear, tropical fruits, hints of orange rind. The flavors are fresh and vibrant, with great melon, apple, fig, apricot and citrus giving way to a powerful earthy core of minerality. Firm acidity provides balance and a crisp, dry finish. This wine is peachy, spicy, rich, and perfectly balanced, very much reminiscent of an of Alsatian Pinot Gris. Pair with shellfish, pork, foie gras, roast chicken or mushroom lasagna.
2010 Dr. H. Thanisch Bernkasteler Doktor Riesling Kabinett, Moselle, Germany. A bit of sweetness framed with incisive acidity for that electricity that great German Riesling always delivers. One of the reasons why German Riesling is so ignored here is likely due to its complicated categorization system, which puts wines into eight major categories while also offering opportunities for the producer to add designations representing quality and sweetness level. It’s quite complicated. This wine is labeled “Kabinett” because it is the least-ripe and rich of wines from the fabled Bernkasteler site. Light-bodied with racy freshness, it offers scents and flavors of green apple and peach. It is flexible enough to pair with a huge range of foods, from smoked salmon, olives and pate, to any fish, pork, veal or fowl dish.
So, as the days ahead become noticeably longer, and the temperatures here in the Northeast start flirting with readings above frigid, it may be time to take Punxatawney Phil and Staten Island Chuck at their work and start looking forward to drinking these wines of spring.
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