Easter is a holiday that (outside of spiritual belief) is filled with fresh ideas, new beginnings, and little smiles. Families gather for the first time since the winter break and once again, we prepare a meal of epic proportions – oh how I love the feast!
Hot-cross buns are traditional on Easter morning, but for obvious reasons I will avoid pairing wine with sticky-buns at 8am. Can I suggest a big glass of freshly squeezed OJ and a cup of piping hot coffee instead? My advice in this article is catered more to a point in the day when aromas of ham, turkey, or even lamb permeate through the household. Many families also enjoy beef or Asian cuisine over the holiday, and our focus today is how to pair the vast array of wine available at the LCBO with the varying flavour intensities of these entrées.
Turkey or ham is certainly the most popular choice, and in terms of wine pairing potential, your selection depends primarily on what accents the main dish. Rich gravy, mustards, savoury casseroles and flavourful side dishes dictate the style of wine needed to complete the meal.
As a rule, the richer the flavours, the more robust the required wine: try Gamay, Pinot Noir, or Oaked Chardonnay: In increasing intensity serve: Gamay from Beaujolais or Niagara; Pinot Noir from one of: Ontario’s Prince Edward County / Burgundy’s Côte de Beaune / New Zealand / the richer Côte de Nuits of Burgundy / Oregon. And from the white spectrum, try Chardonnay from: Burgundy / Australia / California.
A roast or rack of Lamb calls for Spanish Rioja – reserva or better, but Cabernet Sauvignon or a rich Pinot will work just as well. Cooler climate Cab tends to have a minty/eucalyptus aroma that will pair wonderfully with the mint sauce if you plan to go that route.
Roast beef, tenderloin, or pot-roast all follow the same principle and when the meat is garnished with peppercorns or spiced gravy, choose a wine that reflects that same depth: In increasing intensity serve: French Syrah / California Cabernet Sauvignon / Australian Shiraz / Barolo / Amarone
If you are planning Asian cuisine, the combination of sweet and spice calls for one of the following: Unoaked Chardonnay / Riesling: Alsacian or German Kabinett / Gewürztraminer / Prosecco: Italian sparkling wine (dry/brut)
Oh by the way, when the kids are in bed, snatch a few chocolate eggs from the basket and pop a bottle of Graham’s 20 year of Tawny Port – the two together are a match made in heaven… even the Easter Bunny deserves a treat!