Eating seasonally applies to what you drink as much as what you eat, so as the weather starts to warm up, look for these wines to refresh your palate. All of them are meant to be consumed young and well-chilled, they're priced for a spontaneous picnic tipple, and they have low enough alcohol to drink up - which also means lower calories...it IS almost bathing suit season, after all.
- Vinho Verde - Portugal's "Green Wine" is so called because it's young and fresh. Light bodied, crisp, and just slightly pétillant (fancy French word meaning a smidge bubbly), white Vinho Verde made with local grapes Alvarinho, Loureiro, and Trajadura is perfect with spring salads and light seafood. Aveleda Fonte Vinho Verde 2009 is a classic ($7.99 at BevMo).
- Albariño - Across the border in Spain, that same Alvarinho grape is called Albariño, and it makes a light-bodied white wine that's a bit more complex, citrusy, and mineral. Great with seafood, it also works with slightly heartier chicken or pork dishes. Check out Bodegas Martin Codax Albariño 2009 ($13.99 at K&D Wines).
- Côtes de Gascogne Blanc - Colombard and Ugni Blanc are the grapes that are used to make Armangnac and Cognac in the neighboring districts of Southwest France, but they also make a light-bodied, peachy/melony/lemony white wine that can be had rather cheaply. Many producers use screw caps, a bonus for picnic drinking. The Colombelle Cotes de Gascogne 2009 is just right for that sort of thing. ($7.45 at Empire Wine).
- Muscadet - Not to be confused with the sweet wine Muscat, Muscadet is from the coastal region of France's Loire Valley. As you might expect, it's stellar with oysters. Aging the wine with its yeasts ("sur lie") gives Domaine de la Louvetrie Muscadet Sevre Et Maine Sur Lie 2009 more body and a slight creaminess. ($12.99 at Star)
- Cremant - Nothing like opening a bottle of bubb when you're toasting the new season, right? Cremant is the term applied to sparkling wine made in France using the traditional method, but not in the famed region of Champage (whose producers have exclusive rights to use that name for their wine), which means big savings for you. Crémant d'Alsace Rosé Brut Lucien Albrecht NV is made with 100% Pinot Noir, and has the berry aromas to prove it. It's a steal. ($19.99 at K&L)
"On the Bottle" is a column about wine and spirits appearing every Friday on the Martha Stewart Living Radio blog. Email your boozy questions and wine quandries to email@example.com and they'll be answered in a future post.