Western Easter (as opposed to Orthodox Easter, which is May 1) is very early this year — luckily, you have time to find the perfect wine for Easter dinner.
The traditional dinner of ham is a great food to pair wine with. It allows us to break away from the usual cabernet and chardonnay most people have with dinners. The light texture and easy flavors of ham cry out for crisp, clean, lower-alcohol wines.
Riesling is the classic match for ham. German riesling has the sweetness to mesh well with the saltiness of ham. Try a kabinett for the perfect balance of sweetness. J. Friedrich has a nice Piesporter Michelsberg kabinett that is a great wine. Not too expensive, but tastes outstanding.
If you want to be a little more trendy and cutting edge, rosés are all the rage. Rosés have a pink color that looks beautiful in your glass. They typically will have aromas of berries and slight spices. Don’t be afraid of pink wines — not all of them are sugary sweet or cloying. True rosés have beautiful complexity and will tantalize your taste buds.
Try a good French rosé from Tavel or Provence. If you are into celebrity, try the Miraval Provence rosé, from Provence, in southeast France. Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie own Miraval. The good thing is when celebrities open a winery, they have a lot of money and aren’t afraid to spend it. You get a great wine that they love, and they will spare no expense to get it. The Miraval rosé has enough refreshing acidity to liven up any meal. And it will go perfectly with ham.
If you are doing a little more adventurous food like prime rib or lamb, there are amazing choices for red wines that will be perfect with dinner.
Prime rib is the richest and most flavorful of meats. The high content of flavorful fats beckon for the rich robust tannic flavors of cabernet sauvignon. Cabernet is the king of the grapes. Its tannins will balance out the juicy flavors of your fine cut of meat. Tannin is the dry characteristic of wine that hits the back of your throat and may turn off the beginning wine drinker.
But try a good cabernet with your meats. A great choice is Greystone cabernet. Greystone is a project from the Markham family of wines. Greystone is the house wine of the Culinary Institute of America. You know it is a good wine if the burgeoning chefs use it while learning their craft.
In Greek households, lamb is the traditional Easter meal. Its gaminess is a great match for syrah, or shiraz. (Remember, syrah and shiraz are different names for the same wine. In France and America, we call it syrah. In Australia, they coined the term shiraz.)
Shiraz is wine with blackberry, mint and pepper flavors and great depth. My wife loves Shiraz because it’s a little softer and more fruit-forward than cabernet. Since she loves shiraz, now, it’s my favorite, too! Try Schild shiraz from Australia. It is inky black, rich and sumptuous.
After-dinner liqueurs such as a Baileys Irish Cream or Kahlua are a great finish to every dinner. The sweetness will satisfy everyone, and it always is a treat to add a little something to the coffee. If you want a little different twist, have a bottle ofFrangelico or Chambord. Hazelnut and black raspberry are the flavors, and they are great sippers and will help settle your stomach after a rich meal. Or put these two favorites together and drizzle a little heavy cream for an awesome cocktail called theNuts and Berries.
Easter is the beginning of spring and the season of rebirth. Don’t be afraid to try a new wine or liquor and resurrect your taste buds. Enjoy in moderation and cheers!