For those of you celebrating Easter, your most important wine pairing of the day will be deciding what to drink with that generic milk chocolate bunny and those Brachs jelly beans.
And since that will be appetizers for me, I’m going with champagne…especially since Easter is about rebirth and celebration.
As far as the rest of the meal, particularly if you’re hosting, make it easy on yourself: Offer a white and a red and be done. (We’ll talk about what to pair with those ridiculous Peeps in a minute.)
“Riesling can be one of the best food whites out there, especially the dry ones,” says Andrew McMurray, VP at Zachys Wine & Liquor in Scarsdale, NY. The Trimbach Riesling, from the Alsace region, in Northeastern France, is one of his go-tos and retails for around $15.
“Riesling is clean, crisp and refreshing, with hints of white peach and a very vibrant style. It can stand up to a little spice too!” says Sharon Sevrens, sommelier and owner of Amanti Vino wine shop in Montclair, NJ, who suggests the 2010 Dirler-Cade Riesling Belzbrunnen for about $25
Get a Little Religious
Sagrantino is a red grape that grows primarily in the hilltop town of Montefalco, which is smack in the middle of Italy, so it is totally landlocked.
The name Sagrantino can be traced to the word ‘Sacrament’ (from the Latin “Sacer”- Sacred). The grape was cultivated by monks to produce a raisin wine used for religious rites. It was also reserved for religious and family celebrations such as Easter and Christmas, and for priests for communion wine.
The wines are deep ruby color, you get wild fruit, truffle and blackberry on the nose. It has great tannis, full-bodied texture and fairly high alcohol content, (and while I know you’re drinking it on Easter grab a few extra bottles because it ages beautifully.)
Other Reds to Pair with Your Main Course
A Cote du Rhone, which is Grenache-based wine. It’s a light versatile red that will work great with basically everything on the table.
And if you happen to be in Montclair, NJ, grab a bottle of the 2013 Amanti Vino Cuvee Rufus Cotes du Rhone. The wine is Sevrens’ private label. Rufus is her yellow Lab who is often spotted hanging around the wine shop. Even better, a percentage of proceeds from sale of Cuvée Rufus go to Intensive Therapeutics, a non-profit that offers pediatric therapy programs for special needs children.
It’s $15 so go buy a bottle.
If you’re serving ham, you have a wider range of options. Consider a Pinot Gris from Oregon or a Pinot Noir from New Zealand, says Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, Master of Wine and partner at Wine Ring.
Or try a Gamay if you want to impress the crowd. The Gamay grape is basically the first cousin of Pinot Noir and is a fantastic food wine. It will work with the ham and everything else on your plate. McMurray suggests the Bonnet Rouge Beaujolais Villages Gamay Noir 2013 with will run you about $23.
If you’re family is having lamb, like mine, then you’re going to need a bigger wine, like a Zinfandel or a Syrah. “A Syrah works great because the rosemary notes in the wine will augment it in the dish and the savory umami of the lamb will make the fruit in the wine pop of raspberry. So delicious!” says Simonetti-Bryan. The E-Guigal Crozes- Hermitage is one of my faves actually.
And if you have organic family members, they will appreciate the Beausejour Fronsac Organic 2012 , says McMurray. “It’s a merlot-based blend for $20 that drinks like a much more expensive Bordeaux.”
And Those Strange Peeps
What is it with those things? Its totally bizarre to me. Marshmallows with psychedelic-colored sugar, shaped like baby chicks that, inevitably, you eat the head off first. Again, bizarre.
McMurray suggested I get out of the box and try a bourbon. He likes the Widow Jane Straight Bourbon, aged for ten years.
I actually might need something that strong to choke down the peep.
Have a happy blessed Easter! And let me know your favorite Easter pairing!