For many of us, Easter Sunday is April 5, 2015, and we will be celebrating with family and friends. Traditionally Easter dinner is Ham, Lamb or perhaps Fish. Even if you’re not celebrating Easter, you may want to take advantage of the lower prices on these items this time of year.
If you’re serving a lamb dish, one that has garlic, herbs and salts, or mint, or perhaps even lemon, you would do well to open a bottle of a nicely rounded Merlot. Merlot wine will allow the seasonings of the Lamb to come forward and will not obscure the flavor of your entree. We recently had a lovely Merlot called The Velvet Devil. This wine is produced in Mattawa, Washington. The price on this Merlot should run about $12.00 to $15.00. I enjoyed this wine for the fruit forward plummy taste which was accented with a bit of chocolate. Very soft tannins and a nice finish on this wine.
For those of you serving Ham, I’d go with a white wine. If you’re going with the traditional pineapple/orange sauce and brown sugar, you would do well with a medium-oaked Chardonnay or a White Burgundy. The Chardonnay would be something along the line of Hess, Kendal Jackson or my favorite, Reata. Generally speaking, if your Chard comes from the Napa/Sonoma area or Lodi (Central Valley) region of California, it will have a bit more vanilla and butter flavor to it. If it comes from France or the California Coast, you will have more crispness to it.
These wines are dry enough to keep the sweetness of the fruit sauce from becoming too sweet. They will counter balance your ham and the spring vegetables (Asparagus, Spring Beans, Fennel, Peas) you may be serving with your ham. If you’re going with a spicier version of ham, one with spicy mustard, cloves and coriander, then you will want to reach for a Dry Riesling. Make sure it is a Dry Riesling, any other Riesling will be too sweet and should be served with dessert, not the entree. My favorite Dry Riesling is Chateau Ste. Michelle from the Columbia Valley. This wine will hold up to any spicier dish, especially if you’re leaning towards the Asian or Indian influence in your seasonings. It will pair beautifully with Spiral Ham with Mustard Glaze and roasted potatoes or Au Gratin Potatoes. This is also a nice wine for an aperitif.
If you want to serve a red wine with your ham, try a Pinot Noir from Oregon or France. The Pinot Noirs coming from Oregon or France will be subtle enough to allow the flavor of the ham to come through and not over power it. If you’re serving a sweet, fruity ham, a dry Rosé wine (Cab Franc based) is as red as I would go.
If fish is your entree of choice, your wine decision should be based on the style or sauce that you’re serving with your fish. Basically, if it’s a lightly herbed or lemon based, such as a Roasted Salmon & Asparagus with Lemon Oil (recipe here) then you want a light, delicate white such as a Chablis, Chenin Blanc or Steel Aged Chardonnay. My pick for this would be the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/ Viognier (This is just a beautiful white to have in your house at all times).
If you’re going with a spicier style of sauce or grilled shellfish (recipe for Spicy Grilled Shrimp here) then you’ll want to go into the more complex whites such as a White Burgundy or Dry Riesling. Finally, if you’re doing a tomato based sauce then you can get away with a Sangiovese (a true Sangiovese, not a Chianti) or perhaps a Malbec or Pinot Noir. Choose a red that is robust in flavor but not overly tannic. Lean towards the dark red fruits. I would choose a Rosso di Montalcino. The rules for a Rosso di Montalcino make it a true Sangiovese, not a Chianti which helps to keep the tannis down and the fruit forward.
Now, with all of this Easter entree talk, I don’t want to leave out the Easter brunch crowd. Basically, if I was doing an Easter brunch, I would offer either Mimosas (Champagne and Orange Juice) or a slightly sweet Prosecco as an aperitif before the meal. Banfi Rosa Regale is a beautiful slightly sweet prosecco that would be a lovely way to start the day. I like to add a clean, de-stemmed strawberry to the bottom of my glass when serving a Prosecco.
If you’re going with the quiches, eggs, stratas, then stick with the lighter whites such as a Pinot Grigio, If you want bubbles, then choose a dry Prosecco such as Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut. The flavors of this Prosecco lean towards peaches and apricots with light hints of lemon and toast. This is a very affordable option and usually available.
If you’re celebrating Easter or not, I hope you have a lovely Sunday this first week in April. I’m serving ham, what will you be serving?