Easter Wine Guide
Growing up in my large extended family, easter meant not just ham, but 2 hams, mountains of scalloped potatoes, fresh spring beans and my grandmother's hot cross buns. Whether your holiday meal is brunch, dinner, or an open house/free-for-all, we have some suggestions for easy wine pairings that complement most traditional Easter fare.
If your Easter meal is all about the egg dishes, I would keep it simple and offer Mimosas and Bellinis. Choose a cava, prosecco or other sparkler that is tasty on its own, but inexpensive enough to use as a mixer.
Nino Franco Prosecco di Valdobbiadene Rustico $15
Soft and fruity... an absolutely perfect prosecco on its own and an ideal base for bellinis.
Cremant de Limoux, Antech "Cuvee Eugenie" $14
So rich and toasty... if you didn't know it wasn't from Champagne, you'd swear this was the real deal.
Segura Viudas Aria Brut NV $10
A bright and crisp cava that shines on its own, but is well suited for mixing.
Ham still seems to be the centerpiece of most Easter feasts. Be it the honey-baked, spiral cut, cola glazed smoked variety, or the lesser known FRESH (non-pink) version, ham is a protein that pairs well with both reds and whites. But since both fresh and smoked varieties are usually bathed in a sticky glaze, it is important to find a wine that has a little fruit. I think the conventional wisdom is that a fruity but dry riesling is the best match... but if the thought of riesling conjures images of Blue Nun, then by all means go with an alternative. But if you're feeling a little adventurous, I think you'd be surprised at how many great dry rieslings are out there.
Leeuwin Estate Riesling 'Art Series' 2006 $20
I know this one pushes our limit on cheap, but it is certainly fun and I think worth every penny. The Leeuwin is a crisp and refreshing riesling with succulent, ripe stone fruit flavors balanced by refreshing citrus.
Gustave Lorentz Pinot Gris 2007 $14
Subtly floral and slightly smoky, this pinot gris is a great alternative for riesling-phobes. Soft fruit feels round and ripe on your palate but this wine finishes super clean.
Fleurie 2006 Chateau des Bachelards, Georges Duboeuf $15
This single vineyard Beaujolais is rich and ripe with layers of black cherry and earthy spice... much more akin to the burgundies of the north than the young, sourced wines of Beaujolais. Medium bodied with the perfect punch of fruit for ham.
d'Arenberg Laughing Magpie Shiraz Viognier 2007 $19
You might be thinking that a shiraz/viognier blend must be a typo--or at the very least an error in judgement. But I am here to tell you that if you can find this wine, you must try it. You get remarkable floral and ripe stone fruit notes from the viognier, which marry surprisingly well with the dried fruit and herbal components from the shiraz.
If spring lamb is more your speed, you have a lot of flexibility in wine selection. Pick a cab, a merlot, a malbec-- or any number of blends that are red-meat friendly. I chose two that I think are interesting and a fine match for racks or legs that are rubbed with garlic and fresh spring herbs.
2006 Bodegas Hijos de Juan Gil Monastrell $14
This mourvedre from Spain is inky and intense... lots of jammy fruit layered with leather and smoke and spice. I think this pairs slightly better with the richness and gaminess of a leg of lamb, but it is so good I'd drink it with almost anything.
MontGras Quatro 2007 $15
30% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Malbec, 25% Syrah and 15% Carmenere
This Chilean chilean blend is full and rich with lovely currant and plummy notes. It is a little dusty and spicy and a beautiful match for lamb.
I know for some, Easter is all about the chocolate. For you chocolate bunny and egg hounds, I'd recommend a good port. Of course, depending on your chocolate preference (white, milk or dark) you do have other options, but for flexibility and sheer yumminess, I'd go with a tawny port
R. L. Buller & Son Tawny Victoria NV $11
Delicate, yet layered and rich, the Buller is a great value tawny port. Toasty caramel notes mingle with spice and honey for a truly intoxicating blend. Aromatherapy at its finest.
Easter egg image via Poem4Today.com
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Posted by Noël Wallace at April 9, 2009 4:28 PM