Easter is the oldest and most important Christian religious festival and a time for celebration, family get togethers, food and wine as well as the seasonal ubiquitous presence, and obligatory guzzling, of symbolic chocolate eggs.
This Easter, the UK will be blessed with not just a dry and warm Bank Holiday weekend, but temperatures hotter than the likes of St Tropez and Mallorca! Some forecasters are even predicting it will be the start of a heatwave that will continue into the summer – hallelujah!!!!
Everyone at wine school of EGG-cellence wishes you an enjoyable and peaceful Easter
For many the occasion means fish on Good Friday and lamb on Easter Sunday with a traditional and generous measure of chocolate throughout. So, what about the wines? Pairing fish, lamb, desserts, cake, chocolate etc. can be a bit daunting. Never fear, we’re here to help!
In food and wine matching, the first consideration is personal preference and then the aim is to try and match the food’s intensity of flavour with the wine. Remember that whilst the fish or meat you’ve chosen can be lighter e.g. chicken and lots of fish, sauces and other elements in the dish can throw a wooden spoon into the mix by increasing the overall flavour intensity. What is good to know though is that salt and acidity in food are generally good buddies to wine as they make a wine taste richer, less acidic and they soften tannins.
If you’re thinking about salmon en croûte (individual or whole – the latter makes a great centrepiece) served with a hollandaise/creamy sauce, new potatoes, minted peas/broccoli, Chardonnay is great. Look for a white Burgundy (France) from the Côte d’Or e.g. Meursault, or Sonoma (California, USA) or Stellenbosch (South Africa) or Adelaide Hills (South Australia).
For a rich fish pie, Chardonnay either oaked or lightly oaked goes nicely e.g. again a white Burgundy is a delicious match. Other alternatives are Chenin Blanc (Loire Valley for a cooler climate version), or an Italian Gavi (look for Gavi di Gavi).
Here at WSE HQ, we’re having grilled sea bass with new baby potatoes and green salad served with a Premier Cru Chablis from Burgundy (doesn’t need to be Premier Cru though). Other wine alternatives are Sancerre or Pouilly-Fumé or Meretou-Salon (all Loire Valley) if you’re a Sauvignon Blanc fan or a pale rosé from Provence.
If you’re having smoked salmon (starter or canapés), a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc works well or just get the Champers out!
Succulent roasted lamb with garlic and rosemary, green vegetables and roasted new potatoes is a classic. What needs to be considered though is how it is cooked.
If serving the meat tender and pink, the flavours and intensity are more delicate. Pair with a softer more medium bodied red like Pinot Noir from Burgundy; or Central Otago or Marlborough (latter two are in New Zealand); or if you’re not a Pinot fan, Rioja (Spain); or Cabernet Franc (Loire Valley); or Châteauneuf du Pape (Rhône Valley, France).
Alternatively, if you are cooking the lamb medium to well done, the meat will be less tender yet fuller in flavour. So, select a more full-bodied Cabernet Sauvignon dominant red wine like a Bordeaux (left bank area e.g. Médoc or St Estephe – see Cracking Bordeaux for more information on the area) or Stellenbosch (South Africa) or Coonawarra (South Australia) or Margaret River (Western Australia) or Hawkes Bay (North Island, New Zealand) or Napa Valley (California, USA).
Something completely different
If considering Indian food, click here to read our Can you Pair Indian Food and Wine blog.
Desserts and Chocolate
Sweetness in food can make a dry wine appear drier, less fruity, less flavoursome and horror upon horrors more bitter. So, to stand up to your sweet delights pair with a wine that has similar sweetness.
Lemon tart isn’t such a sweet dessert although if served with cream the level is increased. Great combinations are either Sauternes (Bordeaux, France) or a Late Harvest Riesling (Germany).
Chocolate can be one of the trickiest. Generally, if the chocolate is milk or white, these are best paired with white wines e.g. Sauternes for the former and Eiswein (Germany) for the latter. Dark chocolate pairs best with red wine e.g. Amarone della Valpolicella (Italy) a firm favourite here at WSE HQ!!
Chocolate brownies with ice cream (particularly gorgeous with butterscotch ice cream) is completely decadent with PX Sherry drizzled over it. Chocolate soufflé/cake is sublime with a rosé Champagne or rosé Cava (Spain) or Branchetto d’Acqui (Italian rosé – try Castello Banfi’s Rosa Regale – great combo).
The British strawberry season officially starts on the 1st May 2019. To create a healthier option, why not melt down any left-over chocolate eggs and dip them in strawberries. Chocolate coated strawberries are delicious with a rosé NV (non-vintage) Champagne or Crémant de Bourgogne (sparkling wine from Burgundy, France, that is made the same way as Champagne and with the same grapes yet it’s less expensive).
So, there it is folks. Some food and wine suggestions and ideas for you to experiment with. We hope you enjoy whatever you select and everyone at wine school of EGG-cellence wishes you a peaceful Easter.