UPDATED FOR EASTER 2007
Spring is here, and with it the holiday dishes of the Easter table. So what wines pair best with Easter dinner? Of course it depends upon what graces your holiday table, but we’ll go over the classics and give you the very best food and wine pairings for each.
Wine Pairing for Ham
For many folks, Easter means a gorgeous roasted ham. And for most folks in Europe, this means pulling the cork on a great bottle of Riesling. The traditional pairing of roast ham with Riesling is almost mandatory on many tables, and there’s a good reason why: it works. Particularly if the ham has any kind of honey or apricot glaze going on. These tastes pick up what’s best in a fine Riesling: the apricot, peach, and vineyard-peach notes that makes a great dry Riesling sing. Yes, we said dry. We feel strongly that with the sweetness inherent to ham, particularly when the ham is glazed, what you want is a fine bone-dry Riesling with enough acidity to clear the palate, while still retaining those lovely stone fruit notes which pair so nicely with the dish. An excellent selection would be the Hogl Loibner Vision Riesling 2005. This is a limited production Riesling with such complexity that it will pair stunningly not only with the ham, but with most of what the Easter table has to offer. A somewhat more simple choice is the Donabaum Wachauer Riesling 2003. This is a lighter styled white wine than the Loibner Vision, and while it may not stand up to the heartier dishes served with your ham, it will pair beautifully with the meat, and isn’t that what we’re going for here?
Wine Pairing for Lamb
Whether you’re Greek Orthodox, Russian Orthodox, or just simply a foodie, lamb is the traditional meat of the day. Spring lamb, leg of lamb, roast of lamb, stuffed lamb- they are all delightful, and they all demand an equal in their wine pairing. So what wine do you pair with lamb? Easy: a Pinot Noir or a St.Laurent. What we are after here is a fruity yet elegant red wine with just a zip of acidity that will animate the meal, instead of weighing things down.
You may be more familiar with the charms of Pinot Noir, and a perfect Pinot to pair with lamb is the Wenzel Kleiner Wald Pinot Noir 2004. This wine has all the fruit and that dash of zip you’re looking for, plus something more: this particular vintage has just the slightest hint of a mint note on the finish. What’s more classic than mint with lamb?
And now on to the St.Laurent. This may not be a familiar red wine varietal for you, so let’s take a quick minute to describe it. St.Laurent is a red wine that is often described as being along the lines of a Pinot Noir, but with the heft of a Cabernet. It is, in fact, from the crossing of a Pinot Noir grape and some unknown partner. A great St. Laurent to pair with lamb is the Braunstein Goldberg St.Laurent 2003. The 2003 vintage was a knock-out one for red wines in Austria, and this complex, elegant red will show you why. It’s the perfect choice if you are doing your lamb up with some garlic or strong tasting herbs such as rosemary, as this is where that “heft of a Cabernet” will come perfectly into play. And Easter being a religious holiday after all, we like the idea of having a Saint at the table!
Wine Pairing for Asparagus, Peas, Lentils and all Spring Vegetables
Perhaps you are a vegetarian, and these will be the main plates for your Easter feast. Otherwise, these are the traditional veggies seen as side dishes for the aforementioned ham and lamb. Why not give them their own perfect wine pairing? Asparagus is one of the toughest vegetable to pair with wine, and most restaurant sommeliers will give you the same answer if asked which one wine pairs with asparagus best: Gruner Veltliner. Hands down, no contest, this is what this great white wine is known for. As an added bit of luck, Gruner Veltliner also pairs particularly well with spring peas and lentil dishes of any description. In fact, this is a wine that is often described as having those very notes in the bouquet, along with a lovely bit of fruit, great minerality, and a dash of white pepper spice on the finish. And a good, complex Gruner will even stand up to the meat dishes if pressed to the task: try the Hogl Ried Schon Gruner Veltliner 2005. This is one of our favorite new releases. Another fine choice would be the Donabaum Loibner Garden Gruner Veltliner 2002, which is a very fat version of this great white wine. On a budget? Or trying Gruner for the first time, and want to wade in slowly? We have a good selection of many Gruner Veltliner wines for under $20, including a few under $10!
Wine Pairing for Chocolate Bunnies and Marshmallow Peeps
Well, no discussion of Easter foods would be complete without a nod to these two fellows: the chocolate bunny and the marshmallow peep. So what wine does one pair with chocolate and marshmallow? Why, a sweet dessert wine of course. But not just any dessert wine: we wanted something perfect, and we found it. For the chocolate bunnies, pair the Heiss Traminer Ice Wine. The Traminer grape is known for its intense rose notes, which will pair perfectly with the chocolate, while the zip that remains in a well-made true Ice Wine will keep the whole pairing from getting too sweet or cloying. And when celebrating Spring, isn’t a thawed bit of Ice Wine the perfect idea?
For your marshmallow peeps, we recommend a dessert wine made from Muscat-Ottonel. Again, it’s the big aromatics in play here that will pair wonderfully with the subtle flavors and sweetness of the marshmallow. Two to choose from: Velich Muscat-Ottonel Beerenauslese 2001 or the Pasler Muscat-Ottonel Trockenbeerenauslese 2002. These wines also work great with those other Easter basket favorites: Jelly Beans!
And now to recap quickly: what wines to pair with Easter supper?
Pinot Noir and St.Laurent
Preisinger Pinot Noir 2004 $49.99
Wenzel Kleiner Wald Pinot Noir 2004 $38.50
Gsellmann & Gsellmann Pinot Noir 2002 $25.99
Braunstein Goldberg St.Laurent 2003 $22.00
WITH SPRING VEGETABLES:
Hogl Ried Schon Gruner Veltliner 2005 $26.99
Donabaum Loibner Garden Gruner Veltliner 2002 $18.99
Kalmuck Gruner Veltliner $12.99
Gritsch Axpoint Gruner Veltliner 2005 $12.99
WITH CHOCOLATE AND MARSHMALLOWS:
Ice Wine and other Dessert Wines
Heiss Traminer Ice Wine 2001 $45.99
Heiss Traminer Ice Wine 2002 $34.99
Pasler Muscat-Ottonel Trockenbeerenauslese 2002 $29.99
Velich Muscat-Ottonel Beerenauslese 2001 $29.99
Feiler-Artinger Traminer Beerenauslese 2002 $19.99
Feiler-Artinger Muscat-Ottonel Spatlese 2003 $18.99