There are certain times of the year when your questions have a recurring theme, and the weeks leading up to Easter is such a time. “What wine should I serve with our Easter gathering?”
It’s a great question not only because you are asking but because I am also planning my family get-together. I’m usually in charge of recommending the wines but this year have the added honor of hosting our family brunch. This would have a simple answer with a menu as straightforward as fish or red meat. But most likely your menu — as does mine — entails an array of traditional family dishes such as deviled eggs, green bean bundles and the customary ham.
Hands down, my favorite choices are riesling, gewurztraminer or dry rose.
I know, I know… unless you have been in one of my wine and food pairing classes you may not believe me on these “very rarely go wrong” recommendations. But trust me. There is no other way of explaining these pairings of perfection than by experiencing them. The key is finding wines that can serve one simple task, not competing with the food. With such an array of food flavors your wine choice should be a stand-by participant. These wines will always deliver.
If you have a family member who refuses to veer from his or her beloved red wines you can always depend on a light-bodied pinot noir.
- 2018 Bell Rose, California (about $15 retail)
- 2017 Chateau Ste Michelle Dry Riesling, Washington (about $10 retail)
- 2018 Domaine Bousquet Rose, Argentina (about $11 retail)
- 2017 Hogue Cellars Riesling, Washington (about $11 retail)
- 2017 J. Lohr Monterey Riesling, California (about $11 retail)
- 2016 Louis Guntrum Dry Riesling, Germany (about $14 retail)
- 2014 Anne Amie Dry Riesling, Washington (about $19 retail)
- 2017 Presqu’ile Winery Rose, California (about $22 Retail)
- 2018 Monchhof Slate Riesling, Germany (about $25 retail)
- 2018 Rudi Weist Monchhof Estate Riesling, Germany (about $19 retail)
Easter is the perfect occasion for a casual gathering with family and friends. I asked readers and friends how they would be celebrating this year and compiled my recommendations based on their answers.
I can think of no better occasion than an Easter brunch for serving dry rose wines. The meal is often an assortment of breakfast and lunch foods, but even some dinner dishes sneak into the mix. This array of choices — from sweet to savory — is a lot to ask from a single wine but dry rose wines are extremely versatile and a perfect pairing to help bridge the spectrum of flavors.
It’s best to stick with wines low in alcohol for a morning brunch. I suggest reading labels carefully because despite their delicate color, some roses can be robust with alcohol levels well into the 14 to 14.5 percent range.
- 2016 Domaine Bousquet, Argentina (about $11 retail)
- 2016 Presqu’ile Winery Rose, California (about $20 retail)
THE EGG HUNT
This menu selection is generally uncomplicated, and the focus is mainly on a few desserts and a versatile wine pairing. A sparkling wine or delicate Moscato d’Asti are ideal choices for an afternoon get-together. In addition to the celebratory touch of bubbly, these wines are also generally low in alcohol. For those looking for wine pairings for chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks keep in mind lighter chocolates pair best with light-bodied wines while full-bodied wines are best with robust darker chocolates.
- NV Umberto Fiore Moscato d’ Asti, Italy (about $12 retail)
- NV Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs Sparkling Wine, California (about $19 retail)
THE INTIMATE DINNER
If your celebration with family and friends features a seated dinner you can showcase several wines for your guests. If you are starting with a light salad, a light-bodied pinot grigio is a good choice as it is low alcohol and doesn’t compete with most dressings. Light reds without overpowering tannins or whites without searing acidity are natural pairings with hams covered in sweet, spice and salt.
- 2016 BV Coastal Pinot Grigio, California (about $10 retail)
- 2015 Santa Barbara Winery Pinot Noir, California (about $22 retail)
Easter is one of the many annual occasions when our family gets together around the table to share and celebrate. It’s one of my favorites because it is a day of reflection joined with the welcomed excitement of spring, not to mention the well-thought out menu followed by something chocolate. But if your menu is like our family’s, it is not straightforward with just a ham as the main course. In our family, we enjoy a buffet ranging from deviled eggs to banana pudding, and that’s a lot to ask from a single wine.
Rather than focusing on the main entree for these feasts, it’s best finding wines known to play well with all types of foods. The key is food friendly wines capable of standing up to a range of flavors and textures.
For red wine lovers, bigger is not better when it comes to friendly food pairing at the Easter table. Save the high alcohol, tannic wines for the barbecue next week. Wines with high tannin will overpower most foods, so a more fruit forward, lighter bodied wine is a better choice. Think barbera, merlot, pinot noir, gamay and fruity ripe blends.
- 2014 Louis Jadot Beaujolais Village, France (about $14 retail)
- 2012 Chateau Blaignan Bordeaux, France (about $21 retail)
If you are joining me on Easter you are guaranteed to find dry rose wines gracing my table. Whether it be brunch, lunch or dinner, I can’t emphasize enough how well they match with almost every food imaginable. The key to the perfect rose for food pairing is ensuring it’s a dry style and not sweet.
- 2015 La Vieille Ferme Cotes du Ventoux Rose, France (about $14 retail)
- 2014 Hogwash Rose, California (about $18 retail)
Sparkling is another reliable wine able to complement practically any food, from appetizers and entrees to desserts. I use sparkling wines to mix for mimosas at a brunch and as the single wine for buffet service. It’s also wonderful for Easter menus because it always brings a celebratory feel to the occasion, so even if you just begin the meal with a glass for a family toast it’s a special touch.
- NV Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava, Spain (about $13 retail)
- NV Gloria Ferrer Brut Sparkling Wine, California (about $32 retail)
Easter celebration menus range from morning brunches and lavish buffets to formal sit-down meals and even the casual “just desserts” egg hunts. Regardless of the setting there’s a wine to fit almost any way your family and friends are celebrating Easter together.
The charm of an Easter brunch lies in its leisurely approach in bridging the festive activities from a late breakfast to well past lunch. If you are serving pastries and fruits, Champagne or a light white wine would be ideal, but egg casseroles, frittatas or tarts will require a more full-bodied white or rose. (Cava, California sparkling, Champagne, pinot grigio, rose, sauvignon blanc, light-bodied chardonnay.)
- 2013 Sawbuck Chardonnay, California (about $12 retail)
- 2013 Alta Maria Sauvignon Blanc, California (about $22 retail)
Seated lunches or dinners are generally a more intimate setting but also an opportunity to showcase several wines with your menu courses. Many will start with a light salad that could be paired with a light-bodied pinot gris. If the traditional Easter ham will be the showcase of the main course, light reds without overpowering tannins or whites without searing acidity are natural pairings for hams glazed with sweetness, spice and salt. (Pinot noir, merlot, tempranillo, beaujolais, gruner veltliner, chenin blanc, pinot gris.)
- 2014 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc, California (about $15 retail)
- 2012 Native 9 Pinot Noir, California (about $75 retail)
Buffet style dining still offers the least amount of stress and easiest way to serve guests. And, you must admit, there’s something about the table laden with dishes that always creates a feeling of celebration. Serve a wine with the ability to stand up to the assortment of textures and tastes. (Rose, merlot, pinot noir, gewurztraminer, riesling.)
- 2014 Montes Classic Merlot, Chile (about $13 retail)
- 2014 Trimbach Gewurztraminer, France (about $30 retail)
Compared to all entertaining options for Easter, simply having family and friends in your home for just the celebration of the traditional Easter egg hunt is the most personal and casual of options. This menu selection is simple and the focus is mainly on just a few desserts and a versatile wine pairing. Of course, even chocolate bunnies and marshmallow chicks have a wine pairing. But for those looking for a more refined chocolate match, keep in mind lighter chocolates pair best with light-bodied wines while full-bodied wines are best with robust darker chocolates. For example, the delicate moscato d’Asti competes perfectly with the mellow butter flavors in many white chocolates, while cabernet sauvignon blends to perfection with full-bodied dark chocolate. (Moscato d’Asti, cabernet sauvignon, merlot, port.)
- 2015 Jacobs Creek Moscato, Australia (about $11 retail)
- 2015 Marco Negri Moscato d’Asti, Italy (about $20 retail)