Holiday wine pairings really don’t need to get overly complicated and Easter is no exception. In fact, many traditional Easter dishes have more than one wine choice and in most cases several. If you are in charge of the wine this Sunday you have options!
For some households, lamb is a staple at Easter dinner. It may be the only time of the year that it is served and deserves a little special treatment in my book. Red wine is the star of this show and many selections would work but one must be careful to not have a wine that is overly tannic and dry competing with lamb’s generous flavors.
Bordeaux wines are consistently paired with roasted lamb by many experts, however, the wine doesn’t necessarily need to come from Bordeaux itself, but just be in that particular style. I really like Gundlach Bundschu Mountain Cuvée from Sonoma, California with lamb. When I prepare lamb, I typically do a red wine sauce and I love to use the same wine I plan on drinking with the meal. It really brings everything together.
The Mountain Cuvée is a blend of 45% Cabernet Sauvignon, 41% Merlot, 7% Cabernet Franc, 3% Syrah and
3% Petite Sirah. This Bordeaux-inspired wine is almost purple in color and delivers plush, red fruit flavors of fleshy plum, red currant and a hint of lingonberry. Well-structured elements of cranberry and dried herbs marry on the mid-palate as effortless tannins lead to a smooth finish. The tannins are soft and elegant and a great compliment to the slight gaminess of the lamb. Subtle vanilla flavors round out the wine.
Depending on how the lamb is prepared you might also consider a Barolo, Barbera, Meritage or even a Syrah. On the flip side, instead of lamb you could also serve a beautiful prime rib and all of these wines would be on my bucket list as well with roast beef.
Ham is another Easter favorite and I really like several wine options with this dish. My choices include Pinot Noir for red wine drinkers, Sauvignon Blanc for white wine drinkers and Rosé for everyone in between.
Olema Pinot Noir, also from Sonoma, is wonderful with ham, especially glazed ham. It opens with aromas of ripe cherry, candied red apple and mulling spices. The palate is full of depth and balance, with black raspberry and strawberry notes leading into the silky-smooth finish which complements the sweetness of the ham while the acidity in the wine balances the saltiness of the ham. Please chill this wine a bit! Room temp is too warm so pop it in the fridge for a good half an hour before you serve it.
Domaine Beausejour Les Grenettes Sauvignon Blanc. Closer to Sancerre than your average Touraine Sauvignon
Blanc, it's clear from the start this is a remarkable wine to pair with ham and dare I say, to start brunch off with egg dishes and pastries. Its velvety texture is shot through with well-integrated yet bracing acidity and a snap of chalky minerality that keep the wine both lively and supple. A round and full finish lingers long enough to reprise the nose's floral aspects that serve as a foil to the luscious golden stone fruit. The crisp nature of the wine makes this a great companion with ham and would also work well with roasted herbed chicken.
Rosé with Ham is a rock star. The Jean-Luc Colombo Cape Bleue Rosé from France is one of my new favorites. It is 67% Syrah and 33% Mourvèdre. Made in the traditional saignée method (crushing red grapes until the desired color is achieved then tanks are drained of the juice) fermentation occurs in stainless steel tanks for about three weeks and is bottled immediately to preserve freshness. It is a soft salmon pink and smells like peaches, rose petals, and watermelon. This lovely little dry wine tastes like raspberries, cherries, and soft spices. Even if you don’t pair it with the meal, sipping this low-alcohol wine while cooking is a great option!
Last but not least we cannot forget about the chocolate Easter bunnies! Since it is dessert and after a big meal I like a cup of coffee so why not a coffee liqueur with the little rascal? Grind Espresso Shot is a new Caribbean rum blended with coffee extracts and espresso for that punch of coffee caffeine goodness. Combined with chocolate and served on the rocks it is a great end to a wonderful Easter meal.