Spring is in the air and Easter is right around the corner. Since there’s nothing I enjoy more than food and wine, I wanted to introduce you to some nice pairings for your Easter meal.
There’s no better time for gathering around the table to celebrate with a scrumptious brunch or Easter ham. There’s no one size fits all approach when it comes to pairing wine with food. Often there are several wines that pair well with a particular food, which will give you plenty of options for your meal. Whether you’re looking for a wine to serve at your Easter table or for a bottle to bring along to dinner, I hope my wine pairing tips will help. Let’s explore which wines work best with what you will be having.
Easter brunch or appetizers: Bubbles, such as Prosecco, Champagne or a sparkling rose are always my go-to for brunch. If you prefer something sweeter, Moscato d’Asti will work. Sparkling wines pair well with egg dishes such as quiche and frittatas, as well as French toast and other brunch dishes. They also work with many appetizers you might be serving for Easter, including deviled eggs, spring salad, or roasted vegetable tart. If you’re not a fan of sparkling wine, a light Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc will also pair well.
Glazed ham: A delicious baked ham is always on my Easter menu. When I bake a ham, I like to glaze it, so the sweet balances out the saltiness. Red and white wine can both pair with baked ham. A nice Pinot Noir or a German Gewürztraminer or Riesling all work well. I love the light to medium weight of Oregon Pinot Noirs. The cooler, wetter climate of Oregon is ideal for Pinot Noir. While I’m primarily a red drinker, I enjoy both of these white wines as well. Gewürztraminer is more intense with hints of spice and tropical fruit, while Riesling is zestier with more acidity.
Lamb: Cabernet Sauvignon is a classic pairing for your Easter rack of lamb or lamb roast. It holds up well to the richness of the lamb. Syrah, Shiraz, Pinot Noir, and Burgundy would also pair well, depending on how you prepare your lamb. Pinot Noir works well with young lamb while Syrah and Shiraz are perfect with the smokey flavor of grilled or barbequed lamb. As far as intensity, Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, while Syrah and Shiraz are more medium to full-bodied and Pinot Noir is a lighter intensity wine.
Roasted chicken: An oaked, buttery Chardonnay is always a good option with a crispy-skinned roasted chicken, as well as a lighter Pinot Noir or another light-bodied red. Chardonnay is a full-bodied grape with hints of lemon, spice, apple, and vanilla that works well with roasted chicken. I personally enjoy a glass of Rose or a lighter unoaked Chardonnay that has been aged in stainless steel. While most wine drinkers prefer the oaked Chardonnay, I prefer the refreshing, citrus flavors of a steel-aged Chardonnay. A rose and chicken dish pairing is a favorite, because it’s fresh, fruity, and light.
Easter dessert: Coconut cream pie and carrot cake or two desserts that typically make an appearance on my Easter table. If you’re continuing you’re wine pairing through dessert, there are several wines that will pair well. Coconut cream pie or other coconut cream desserts can be paired with Moscato, Sweet Riesling, or Sauterne. All have a fruit-forward flavor that complements various desserts. Sweet Riesling or a Sherry dessert wine are good matches for carrot cake. If you’re serving a richer dessert, Port wine is a nice option. When serving a dessert wine, remember that the portion should be smaller. A two to three-ounce pour is ideal.
Chocolate: We all need a little chocolate in our lives for Easter. When paired with wine, it’s a special treat. A ruby or tawny Port pairs well with chocolate if you’re looking to match sweetness. Dry red wines are great with chocolate as well. Pinot Noir is a good match for milk chocolate, while a Cabernet or Red Zinfandel is a better match for the intensity of dark chocolate. If you prefer white chocolate, a sweet Riesling or Moscato d’Asti is a good pairing. Chocolate with nuts, sea salt, or caramel all pair well with a Tawny Port or Madeira. Hope you enjoy the peanut butter egg recipe at the end of the column. Pair it with a sampling of wine and enjoy.
Whatever your plans this Easter, I hope my wine pairing tips help make your dinner more enjoyable. If you’re looking for one bottle to take along to a dinner and you’re unsure what is being prepared, Pinot Noir is probably the most versatile. Test your Easter candy-making skills with this recipe for chocolate peanut butter eggs courtesy of my friend and candy maker extraordinaire, Melissa Jones. They are delicious!
MJ’s Peanut Butter Eggs
• 2 (40 oz) jars of your favorite creamy peanut butter (I use Reese’s)
• 1 (8 oz) block of cream cheese (softened)
• 1 (2 lb) bag of 10x sugar
• Milk to wet
• Dark or Milk chocolate (melted for coating) (I use Merckens)
1. Place 10x sugar & milk in bowl — use approximately 3 tbsp milk, add peanut butter and mix well. Add softened cream cheese and mix well.
The mixture will form to a tacky but rollable texture.
2. Roll into eggs, place on wax paper cookie sheets and refrigerate for 15-20 mins until chocolate is dry/set up.
3. Remove from refrigerator and coat with your choice of melted milk or dark chocolate. After coating, place eggs on clean wax paper cookie sheets & return to refrigerator for 15-20 minutes to set up.
4. Store in sealed, wax paper lined container in fridge. (You can stack three high layers without compromising the bottom eggs.)
Ruth Corcoran is a professional marketer, former restaurant owner, and community advocate. She resides in Bear Creek. Readers can reach Ruth by emailing [email protected]