7 Best Wines to Drink This Easter
It’s that time of year! Spring is in the air and families are starting to get ready for their Easter celebrations.
Even though gatherings will surely be smaller this year, many wine lovers will be reconnecting with loved ones after many months of separation.
Not only does the wine served during Easter feasts need to match the food, but it also needs to rise to the occasion.
For many of us, that first glass of wine shared with family and friends will be a memorable one, so let’s make it count.
Easter Brunch Calls for Sparkling Wine
Many of you will celebrate the holiday with a classic American Brunch where eggs will play the starring role, with a variety of other foods as side dishes. Menus like these call for wines with a lot of versatility at the table.
When it comes to the perfect Easter Brunch sparkling wine, we like to look to Italy where brut (low residual sugar) Prosecco is fantastic for the savory dishes and sweet Moscato d’Asti is perfect for the fresh fruit and desserts.
Both wines are extremely low in alcohol, a plus for a meal generally served before noon. Champagne, of course, is another great option for brunch. It’s a classic breakfast wine with low alcohol and a wonderful match for the many salty foods like smoked salmon that often appear on the Easter Brunch menu.
Still White Wines for Spring Dishes
Easter is also a celebration of Spring and the bounty of vegetables that begin to appear this time of year.
Asparagus is a classic spring dish. But it’s notoriously hard to pair with wine. That’s because it contains a type of acid that can throw the balance of a wine out of whack.
Some people say it makes wine taste metallic or “harsh.” For this reason, most sommeliers recommend pairing something highly aromatic with asparagus.
The go-to wine is Gewürztraminer, the aromatic white originally from Alsace in France and grown today in many parts of the world. Sauvignon Blanc from France, California, or New Zealand is another favorite of wine lovers who are faced with the asparagus conundrum.
The rich aromas of wines like these helps to attenuate the strong aroma of cooked asparagus and the bright acidity helps to tone down the acidity in the food, essentially overwhelming it.
But there are many other foods typically served at Easter besides asparagus. Hard-boiled or devilled eggs and different types of ham, for example, are great with the bright fruit of a California Chardonnay, a wine that evokes Spring with its bold flavors.
Having Lamb? Grab the Red Wine
For many families, and especially those who have European and Mediterranean roots, no Easter feast is complete without lamb.
Whether it’s roasted leg of lamb, smoked whole lamb, or grilled lamb chops, this meat makes for the ultimate red wine dish because of its intense flavor and its rich fattiness.
When it comes to pairing with lamb, you want to go big. Rich red wine with bold flavor and tannin is ideal for nearly any preparation of lamb. But you also want to have a red that has good acidity and freshness to match the richness of the dish.
Try a Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon From Napa
One of our favorite wines to reach for no matter the occasion is mountain Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley.
The fruit grown in the hills and on the slopes on either side of the valley tend to have slightly higher acidity than their counterparts grown on the valley floor. This is because the higher altitude helps to keep the grapes cool during hot summer ripening.
As a result, the grapes tend to be fresher and more lean. In other words, they’re not as concentrated in their flavors.
Rhône and Rhône-inspired Reds
Another go-to grape for Easter lamb is Syrah from the Rhône Valley in France or the Central Coast in California.
When vinified in a traditional style, Syrah — whether French or Californian — nearly always has a note of “bacon fat” that pairs nicely with game and lamb.
But Syrah also has what a lot of sommeliers call “lift.” This means vibrant fruit flavors buoyed by acidity that seem to jump up out of the glass.
An Italian Wine for Italians’ Favorite Holiday: Barolo
In many ways, Easter is a bigger holiday for Italians than Christmas is. That’s because Easter is the one time of year that everyone — and we mean everyone — goes home to see their family.
With the nicer weather of Spring and warmer temperatures, it’s the perfect time to hit the road and go visit your nonna who might just be cooking lamb for the occasion. After all, it’s the classic Italian dish of Spring.
Barolo, with its big tannins and earthy flavors (think truffles and tar), is one of Italy’s greatest pairings for dishes like lamb. But don’t let that stop you from checking out other appellations where they grow Nebbiolo, the variety that’s used to make Barolo.
Barbaresco, just on the other side of the river, is another one of Nebbiolo’s spiritual homes. But you’ll also find great Nebbiolo from northern Piedmont (one of the coolest new categories) and even as far north as the Italian region of Valle d’Aosta where French is spoken.
Italians won’t be driving anywhere this Easter because of safety measures. But a lot of them will be opening Nebbiolo from their favorite winery to pair with the lamb they make at home.
Is Red Burgundy the Ultimate Wine for Easter Lamb?
Of course, we would be remiss if we didn’t also include red Burgundy as one of our top wines to pair with Easter lamb and the traditional Easter feast.
In wines that come from the village of Gevrey-Chambertin, for example, red Burgundy delivers the perfect balance of earthiness and tannic structure to accentuate the gamey, wild flavors of the meat.
Where Californian Pinot Noir (the grape used in red Burgundy) can be deliciously fruity, Burgundian Pinot Noir always tends to be more of a balance between savory and fruit flavors — which is ideal for any kind of lamb.
Which Wine Are You Having This Easter?
Regardless if you celebrate the holiday, the change in seasons is reason enough to celebrate.
Kick back and enjoy a well-paired wine with a meal. And if you’re lucky enough to get together with your family this year, make sure to raise a glass to a fresh start!