Easter is nearly here! And that means the “real” start of spring …a time when the flowers poke their heads out of the ground, the trees bloom, and you can pull out your shorts and flip-flops in hopes of enjoying a day when the temperature climbs into the 70s.
Easter is also a foodie’s dream – it’s one of the top holidays that involves food (behind Thanksgiving and Christmas). And we all know that where there is food, there are wine lovers! So choosing the right wine to go with your Easter brunch or dinner is essential to a perfect holiday. Here are a few tips to demystify the Easter wine selection for you!
What Wine to Serve with Easter Brunch?
Many families forego a dinner-type meal on Easter Sunday and, instead, opt for brunch. The menu for brunch can be quite varied, ranging from traditional egg dishes to carve-at-the-table roasts with all the fixings. Everyone does something a little different. When we do brunch, it tends to be more breakfast-like.
Nevertheless, one type of wine tends to be that perennial brunch favorite – Champagne. Champagne brunches are served all around the world in celebration of Easter and it’s an easy choice for an at-home brunch as well. It’s elegant, fresh and crisp and pairs equally well with quiches and egg casseroles as with cheese as well as some meats.
But what kind to Champagne to choose? Bruts are very food-friendly and generally the most popular Champagne, giving you lots of choices at the store. You can get a very respectable non-vintage French Champagne for under $40 and a domestic non-vintage for less than $20.
If you rather not have the bubbly stuff and if you’re serving more lunch-type foods than breakfast standards, try serving both reds and whites. When you have such diversity of food as is typical at a brunch, it’s a good idea to offer several options. A light Zinfandel goes well with chicken or ham, for example. Consider something like Angel Vine Zinfandel from Washington, rated 91 points. If you’re doing beef or lamb, choose perhaps a Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. I like Antucura, a full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon from Argentina, a great buy at under $20.
What Wine to Serve with Easter Dinner?
If you’re doing a later meal on Easter Sunday, you’re probably serving one of those rhyming meats…you know…ham or lamb, along with all the fixins’ that go with them.
Ham is tough to pair without some specifics as to the kind of ham you’ve got in the oven and how it’s being prepared. I’ve made honey-glazed ham, spicy ham, smoky ham, and ham with toppings like pineapple. A different wine can be paired with each type. Here are some suggestions:
- Honey ham – Many experts suggest pairing Riesling with honey-baked ham, especially if you’re a white wine lover. Gamache Estate Riesling from Washington’s famed Columbia Valley is a fresh and lively Riesling that you’re sure to love. Another good choice is a Gewurztraminer, many of which are produced in the Columbia Valley.
- Simple baked ham – A Pinot Noir, with its red berry/cherry flavors, is a nice complement to plain baked ham and goes good with leftover ham sandwiches too.
- Spicy ham – Choose a red with lots of juicy fruit to go with a ham that’s got a bit of a kick. Beaujolais, a light red, is a nice choice because the fruit balances the spice and saltiness of the ham.
- Ham with pineapple or orange glaze – If you prefer white as they do in my house, try a full-bodied Pinot Gris with this ham. A red lover? Go for a nice Italian Lambrusco, which is wonderfully rich and fruity.
If you’re serving lamb, you’ll probably want to go in a slightly different direction. Like ham, lamb can be prepared and served in a number of ways. Most cooks serve rack of lamb for Easter dinner and adorn it with garlic and some other spices. This is best paired with strong red wines, including Merlot, Syrah, or Cabernet Sauvignon. Check out Airfield Estates Merlot from Washington’s Yakima Valley. Milder lamb dishes with fewer spices can be paired with a good bottle of Riesling, Pinot Noir, or even a Spanish Rioja.
About Patricia Guth: Patricia is a long-time travel writer with a home base in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Her love of travel is rivaled only by her love of music, a subject in which she holds a degree. When she’s not writing about exotic locales or great food and drink, she plays the piano, waves her arms in front of several choral groups, takes care of her husband and teenage daughter, and enjoys spending time with her girlfriends.