The vernal equinox is celebrated by many people: some through Easter, some through Nowruz, and for On The Coast master of wine, Barbara Philip, through a nice glass of vino.

Philip says the vernal equinox is the gateway to springtime, and wine drinkers are starting to incorporate lighter, crisper wines while still enjoying the rich and full-bodied ones.

"Along with length of finish and complexity, balance is one of the key components a sommelier looks for when assessing the quality of a wine," she told On The Coast guest host Gloria Macarenko.

Here are Philip's picks for great wines to try this spring.

Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône. France. 2013. $13.99

"Like most wines from the southern Rhône, the Louis Bernard Côtes du Rhône is a blend of grape varieties. The herbal scents, firm structure and black fruit of Syrah balance the soft texture and raspberry notes of Grenache."

Monasterio de las Viñas 'Gran Reserva.' Cariñena. Spain. 2005. $17.99

"Age is sometimes necessary to bring balance between a wine's elements. The Monasterio spends 24 months aging in French and American oak barrels to gain spice, toast and complexity. It is the further aging after bottling, however, that brings integration of the oak, strawberry compote and baking spice flavours."

Robert Mondavi 'Oakville' Cabernet Sauvignon. California. 2012. $55.99

"Napa black fruits are offset here by sweet herbs, indicative of Cabernet, that lift up the flavour profile of the wine. Balance also comes in the form of substantial tannins that counter the ripe, richness of the wine and work to cleanse the palate. The tannins cry out for protein, so try this wine with a rib roast or herb-marinated leg of lamb."

Château Dereszla Tokaji Aszú '5 Puttonyos.' Hungary. 2008. $43.49

"Intense sweetness is magnificently balanced by tangy, orange-flavoured acidity in this classic wine. The flavours are concentrated with honey, herbs, marmalade and baking spice. This would be a special wine with hard cheeses, any dessert with walnuts or pumpkin pie."

With files from On The Coast