Gone are the days of gatherings around the fire with hot drinks to stay warm. Welcome spring with these refreshing wines and accompanying foods.

Kathee Van Kirk of The Wine Merchant in Hyde Park recommends two wines that are sure to satisfy. Give them a try while ushering in the new season with a house full of friends.

 
Girasole Pinot Noir

The beaming sunflowers on the label of Girasole Pinot Noir almost scream of their origin in California. But aside from its cheery exterior, the wine "” made with organically grown grapes "” has been the best-selling bottle at The Wine Merchant for the past four years.

Description: This is a lighter red with the aroma of fresh raspberries, red fruit and toasty oak.

Pair with: Lighter fare such as chicken, pork loin or grilled salmon.

Price: $15.99 at The Wine Merchant

Villa Antinori Bianco

The rolling hills and lush vineyards of Tuscany are captured in this palate-friendly white wine. The Villa Antinori Bianco is a refreshing, crisp blend of 70 percent Trebbiano and Malvasia and 30 percent Pinot Bianco and Pinot Grigio.

Description: Van Kirk describes the bouquet as displaying a stony minerality with hints of citrus on the finish.

Pair with: All sorts of seafood dishes, as well as green salads.

Price: $16.99 at The Wine Merchant

Information: The Wine Merchant, 3972 Edwards Road, Hyde Park.
(513) 731-1515 or www.winemerchantcincinnati.com.

 
Good Eats

Need ideas for great dishes to serve at your upcoming entertaining events? Check out these local spots that offer cooking classes and tastings to the public.

The Art of Entertaining: Learn to pair beer and wine with party-worthy dishes. Pick up favorites from the tasting at the on-site beer and wine shop, and don't forget to take in the music "” live music, that is, at many of the shop's events. 2019 Madison Road, O'Bryonville. (513) 871-5170 or www.cincyartofentertaining.com.

Creations Cooking Classes: Learn to cook from Cincinnati's best chefs at the Midwest Culinary Institute's programs. Get schooled in classic Italian, indoor grilling, punched-up family dinners and decorating pastries during the month of March. 3520 Central Parkway, Clifton. (513) 569-1643 or http://culinary.cincinnatistate.edu.

Jungle Jim's Cooking School: Choose from demonstration or hands-on classes, learn to pair food with beer and wine, or even bring the kids for sessions just for them. This spring, catch tips on cuisine for Mardi Gras and St. Patrick's Day. 5440 Dixie Highway, Fairfield. (513) 674-6000 or www.junglejims.com.

The Learning Kitchen: This culinary destination wants visitors to "discover your inner chef." Can't-miss classes this spring focus on Indian, Thai and Irish food, as well as what to serve for a date night or Mardi Gras party.  9276 Centre Pointe Drive, West Chester. (513) 847-4474 or www.thelearningkitchen.com.