Pairing wine with your holiday meal, whether it be traditional fare or your own twist, is always a challenge. Ham or lamb are traditional choices for Easter meals but there are always variations. Do yourself a favor and ignore the sickening sweet dishes that find their way to the table – nothing works with these so forget about it.
The biggest concern is the eclectic crowd. You and a few others are wine or beer fans but just as many friends and family members are timid drinkers. So resist the temptation to go with the big price tag items for the purpose of celebrating the Easter meal and stick to modestly priced items that have greater crowd appeal. If you resist this advice you too can have the pleasure of watching your vintage Bordeaux being poured over ice with an orange slice. (If by some stroke of luck your family are great wine and drink lovers like yourself break out your best wines or beers as this is why you save these bottles.)
Beverage with Your Easter Meal – Wine
I always look for something fresh and vibrant avoiding wines heavy in alcohol or oak influence with little to no tannins.
White Wine – These whites work great with ham and less so with lamb. It’s no wonder that varietals like Riesling and Gewurztraminer are so often suggested for holiday meals. These wines tend to be lighter in alcohol than your typical Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc and have little to no wood influence. Just be sure that the wines are not too sweet while a touch of sweetness is fine if not desirable.
Chenin Blanc is also a good choice. In France’s Loire Valley region they make a fine example from the appellation of Vouvray. If you are a Pinot Grigio fan you are in luck as most examples, especially the Italian versions, are ideal for your meal. If you want to be adventurous you could travel south in Italy to the Campania region where they make vibrant and unique wines from varietals such as: Greco di Tufo, Fiano di Avellino, Falanghina, or Coda di Volpe. (These may be hard to pronounce at first but by the time you reach the bottle’s end you won’t care.)
Red Wine – Keep your red wine choices fresh and fruity. Beaujolais-Village or one of the appellation’s 10 “cru” level wines (individual villages that are recognized as producing the best wines of the appellation) for something a bit more fancy.
Pinot Noir is a good choice as well as it’s most often shy on tannins and younger/simpler versions are fruit forward and crowd-pleasing. My huge go-to red is always Côtes du Rhône. There are many to choose from ranging in price from $10 to $30. These wines are fruit-forward while being complex and full of bright, natural acidity making them ideal for any table.
Sparkling Wine – A good sparkling wine is always welcome and especially on a festive occasion. With the budget in mind reach for Prosecco as the soft and often slightly sweet flavors will work well with the meal. If you have a small group don’t be afraid to splurge here. You don’t want to spend any time with people that don’t love Champagne…
Beverage with Your Easter Meal – Beer
Of course beer has a place at the table as well. Following the same rules laid out for wine – avoid extremes like overly hoppy or strong beers. Who wants a beer with a singular, intrusive note?
There are many Bock’s that are brewed for the Lent season that are perfect for Easter. These beers tend to be rich and high in alcohol so be careful. I always like Belgium Saison or the French Biére de Garde with big meals as I find these styles to be satisfying while quite vibrant.
Want to make the perfect leg of lamb for Easter or any day really? Try our grilled leg of lamb recipe.
My Easter Meal?
Roasted leg of lamb, rosemary potatoes, and peas are the main course. There will be Champagne and with dinner I will be enjoying a Châteauneuf-du-Pape (and maybe a Whiskey after dinner).