Thursday, April 21, 2011

Wines for Easter

It's that time of year again... Easter time!  Time for dyed eggs, pictures with the Easter bunny, pastel colors galore, and LOTS of chocolate!  

Gorgeous Easter Eggs
(Photo from Google Images)

Oh, and let's not forget about the Easter meal.  Honeyed ham, roasted lamb, deviled hardboiled eggs, green beans or asparagus, baked potatoes, and carrot cake... Is anyone writing down ideas for Easter brunch/lunch/dinner yet?  =)

Traditional Easter Meal 
(Photo from Google Images)

But what do you pair with an Easter meal?  Every year, we can find beautiful holiday wines to pair with the Thanksgiving turkey or the Christmas goose.  But what do we pair with ham (or lamb)?  Well aren't you lucky I'm here?!  My suggestions are as follows:

Ham --> A salty dish, which requires a wine that can cleanse the palate between each bite:
Easter Ham
(Photo from The Food Network)

How about sparkling wine?  The carbonation will freshen you mouth in each bite.  (And if you didn't catch last week's post on Pink Sparkling Wine Fruit Salad, click on the link.)  I'd recommend something mellow and not too sweet.  The Korbel Brut is a good, thrifty choice that can be found all over.  

Not a fan of bubbly?  How about a white?  Here'd I'd go for a German Riesling or a Gewurztraminer.  If you're picking up a German Riesling, the drier wines are labeled "Kabinett" while the sweeter Rieslings are labeled "Spatlase."  Print this post and take to your nearest wine merchant for help.  But the German Rieslings will be fresh and light, which will pair well with ham.  Keep in mind that if you are buying a screw top wine, make sure the wine isn't older than 2 or 3 years (i.e. the vintage date should not be before 2008).  Otherwise, a lot of the fruit characteristics will be lost in the wine.  Or, go out on a limb and try the Chenin Blanc from Vouvray that I posted yesterday! 

Want a red?  If you're itching to get some extra antioxidants with your ham, try a light red wine - Pinot Noir, Merlot, or a Beaujolais (not Nouveau, but the normal vintage Beaujolais).  Also look for Gamay, Grenache, or Mouvedre varieties.  This are all relatively light bodied and fruity.  

Lamb --> Here the meat is redder and a bit heavier with stronger flavors than a traditional steak, so what better to pair with this than a red wine?
Easter Lamb
(Photo from Google Images)

I'd recommend going Italian on this one.  Go Barolo (Nebbiolo grape) from northern Italy, which is heavier and known for its bit chocolate and licorice flavors.  Or get a Super Tuscan Chianti (a Chianti that is blended with your traditional Bordeaux varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc, and Merlot).  If you're not into (or comfortable) buying Italian wines, how about a Malbec?  You can find some great Malbecs from Argentina at great price points in many wine retail stores.  Again, if you don't feel comfortable, print this page out and take it to the store to find someone to help you.  That's what they are there for!

If you're not into reds, go for a pink (rose) sparkling wine.  I like Mumm Napa's Brut Rose  as well for the drier sparkling wine fans. 

Roast Beef --> Traditional, heavy, red meat. 
Roast Beef Meal
(Photo from Google Images)

Wow that picture above says it all - modern, wine-infused, gourmet style Easter meal.  I love it!  Check out those modernized wine tumblers.  I gotta blog about those next week!  :)  Anyway, back to the pairing.  Again, here, I'd go with a red wine.  This is where you can serve your favorite Cabernet Sauvignon or Cabernet Franc.  Try a wine from Bordeaux (they are all blends mainly composed of Cabernet Sauvignon).  Personally, I'd choose a Merlot because I'm partial to Merlot and it's usually liked by more people at a large gathering (unless everyone is Cab drinkers).  But you can also mix things up here and try a Carmenere (you can usually find Casillero del Diablo Carmenere in many wine retail stores).  

Remember the most important rule of wine pairing - always buy what you like!  (But don't be afraid to try something new.)  There are no real rules - these are only suggestions!  :)

Happy Easter, from my glass to yours!
Easter Flowers
(Photo from Google Images)

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