Now that Spring has definitely sprung and Easter Sunday is in sight, there’s been a shift in what I look forward to in my glass at the end of the day. There are a few more aromatic, ‘floral’ whites such as Sauvignon Blanc or Riesling rather than the winter-warming oaked Chardonnays and higher-than-average-alcohol Viogniers making it into the fridge. The deep, intense Shiraz and Cabernet Sauvignon- dominated red wines are moving over for lighter, fruitier Gamay, Sangiovese or Pinot Noir style wines. Given the unpredictability of our weather I’ll keep some of those winter warmers in the wine rack, just in case. But, with fingers firmly crossed, here are some wines that should put a spring in your step and just happen to go a dream with traditional Easter fodder:
The shops are chock-full of sparkling wine deals at Easter time so you really can take your pick of the bargains. Of course, you can go for a cheaper Prosecco but it really is worth spending a bit more on something that gets its bubbles from being fermented in the bottle a second time. If you like a lean, elegant style of Champagne – think Kate Moss pre-Pete Doherty– go for a Blanc de Blancs. That means it is only made from Chardonnay grapes. If you like your Champagne with more flesh and curves on show – think Elizabeth Hurley in THAT dress – go for a Blanc de Noirs. This means it is only made from the permitted red grapes, Pinot Noir and/or Pinot Meunier. If you can’t choose between the two, go for a blend of all three grapes but make it a Premier Cru (meaning made from grapes grown in slightly higher-rated vineyards than your average Champers): Tesco do a brilliant one in their Finest range.
Red Wines ♥ Lamb
Assuming you’ve got a huge leg of lamb stuffed full of garlic and rosemary in the oven, you’ll need a red to go with it. You can try a white, but the fat (from the lamb) and the acidity (from the white) will fight and both will taste the worse for it. However, give the lamb a juicy red with some lovely supple tannins and everything will taste as it should. Both Cabernet Sauvignon and the lovely, if slightly slutty, Tempranillo grape from Spain – what Rioja is made of – are great matches for lamb. If you are doing a lighter take on lamb, going easy on the garlic & herbs, then a New World Pinot Noir will also make a great match. Try one from New Zealand or Chile (the latter being slightly cheaper).
Wine & Chocolate
I know lots of people who swear by red wine and chocolate being a heavenly match. I’m not one of them. Years ago, when working as a wine buyer for a big supermarket I developed a range of wines to go with particular foods. One of the wines on the list had to go with chocolate so, hard as it was, I tasted about 50 different wines with a variety of puddings including chocolate. Almost none of the combinations worked. Tannins, found in red wines, are not bessie mates with chocolate. The best match is either a light Moscato-style fizz or a lovely thick sweet wine like Banyuls from France.
Happy Easter x