Posted March 25, 2016
Get ready for Easter. Whether you are going somewhere, or hosting, or sitting home alone, wine is in order.
No, this will not be a wine and Easter candy pairing article, though I invite suggestions @winelib_stacyb. If you can figure out what can stand up to the sweetness of those old-fashioned sugar eggs filled with more sugar in the form of royal icing, please let me in on your secret.
Wines for Easter Brunch
If your family meets up early in the day for brunch fare, bring a bottle of bubbly, a Pinot Gris, or a light red. You may need it to get along with Aunt Mary. You remember what happened last year.
Egg dishes, like quiche and frittata, pair well with bubbly. While Champagne is certainly festive, it is not cost-effective for a crowd. More budget-friendly options include Cremants, which are sparkling wines made like Champagne but in other regions of France, as well as Cava, Prosecco and domestic sparklers. Bubbles are your friend. The sparkle and acidity cleanse your palate and really make these wines versatile, suitable for pairing with most things you’ll find at an Easter brunch - from savory egg dishes to sweeter fare. If you know there will be more sweet than savory on the table, set out a few bottles of chilled Moscato, a lighter-alcohol wine with a gentle sparkle and a bit of sweetness. This wine also goes beautifully with creamier cheeses and fresh fruit platters.
For a still white wine, try Pinot Gris. Look for a bottle that specifically says Pinot Gris, not Pinot Grigio. You’ll want to look at Alsace, Oregon and New Zealand. Pinot Gris has a good weight on the palate and delicious fruit character, like ripe, juicy pears. There is often a sweetness at the front of the palate which makes them perfect crowd-pleasers.
For the red drinkers, bring something light. You don’t need a heavy Napa Cab with bread pudding and omelets. Think about matching weight and intensity of the foods here. Lighter fare with lighter wine. Pinot Noir is an obvious choice. For a more adventurous wine-loving family, try Etna Rosso from Sicily or Mencia from northwestern Spain. These are lower-alcohol wines, which is probably better if you are starting on the early side. Think about Aunt Mary’s husband, Uncle John...
The Meats: Lamb and Ham
Pinot and Pork is classic. Have your Pinot. Be classic. But, there are other reds that could fit the bill. A Gamay, from Beaujolais or elsewhere, would be a beautiful addition to an Easter table. Gamay wines are light, like Pinot Noir, and a bit on the floral side. Whereas your Pinot may offer earthy notes, your Gamay will offer more spice. Both will offer silky tannins. Though these are lighter reds, that does not mean they are always pop and pour wines. So read reviews and ask your friendly wine store staff if the wine deserves decanting before serving.
Tried and true white wine lovers, look for full-bodied whites for Easter hams. Chardonnay immediately comes to mind. Also, off-the-beaten-road whites from Hungary, as well as your classic Rhone varieties: Viognier, Marsanne, and Roussanne.
For the most adventurous of families - or families in which you are the only wine drinker and your uncle just drinks Manhattans - try a Slovenian orange wine. An orange wine is, simply put, a white wine made like a red. In other words, it is a white wine made with skin contact, giving it some tannins, which often give themselves up as a dried apricot taste and texture. An orange wine has the weight to match the variety of foods on the table, as well as the tannins to work with fats in the Easter ham. This would be a lovely match for Easter dinner. Just don’t try too hard explaining it to your grandmother.
For lamb, go Rhone or go home! Rhone reds are often recommended for pairing with lamb dishes. Again, this is the classic pairing. Though the French may not want to admit it, other countries produce worthy wine. Spanish reds like Rioja and Ribera Del Duero also match quite nicely, as would red wines from Greece. These are places where people eat lamb. They must know how to make wine to pair with it.
Try a red in the middle, like Blaufrankisch. Good fruit, medium-body, silky tannins and a nice smokiness. Your family may not be able to pronounce it, but they will like it all the same.
Holidays offer great occasions for dessert wines. Whether you pair them with dessert or sip them with cheeses and dried fruits, these bottles are great to open when you can share with a group of people you love (or don’t - I don’t know your family). While you digest your meal and the designated drivers drink coffee, everyone else can enjoy a taste of something sweet.
$17.98 per btl