Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Eggs, Ham, or Lamb… A Few Wine Pairings For Easter

Did you know that Easter is one of the biggest wine days of the year, just behind Christmas, and Thanksgiving? It is. But, unlike those other two holidays, people tend to eat food that is a little more exotic on Easter. Blame this on the melding of various cultures, and both religious and secular traditions. Yes…we all know…it’s the Easter Bunny’s fault!

If your family is like mine, you’ll probably start the day with a little Easter egg hunt. Some people use plastic eggs out of food safety. But, we’ve raised our kids to be accustomed to food poisoning, so we use the real ones from real chickens.

While the kids are out running around the yard with their baskets, fix yourself a nice mimosa. I love to use Ballatore Rosso, or Domaine St. Michelle’s Blanc de Noir in my mimosas. Mix the sparkler liberally with fresh orange juice for a wonderful treat.

After a few rounds of hiding and finding, we bring the eggs in and serve them with brunch. Deviling eggs for me means a little ground onion, mustard, mayo, sweet relish, paprika, pepper, and a dash of jalepeno juice. This combination of ingredients leads to a nice Sauvignon Blanc. I suggest Terra Blanca Sauvignon Blanc. It is filled with wonderful citrusy flavors that clear the palate and prepare you for another bite.

Along with deviled eggs, we are also big into ham at our house. There are two varietals that really pair with ham without much thought: Pinot Noir or a zesty Zinfandel. Our ham gets glazed with honey and orange zest, so I always reach for a really great bottle of Pinot Noir. Eyrie, Domaine Drouhin, or Sineann all make exquisite Pinots from Oregon grapes. I’m also partial to Whitehaven Pinot Noir from New Zealand. The Whitehaven fills your senses with the feeling that you are walking in a redwood forest. (This has been corrected from my post in the EO - I suggested McWilliams in the article, which is an Australian wine that is also good, but not nearly as satisfying.)

If you serve your ham dry smoked, or grilled, I strongly suggest using a Zinfandel. Bogle makes an Old Vines Zinfandel that you can pick up in local grocery stores. It is rich with fruit and spices, and finishes just a little sweet.

The local choice for a Zinfandel is Maryhill. Maryhill Winery, located just across the river from Biggs makes probably the best Zinfandel from the Northwest. This wine pairs extremely well with ribs, ham, or just about anything off the barbecue. You can get Maryhill wines at any of the local wine shops, and many convenience stores as well because it is such a local favorite.

Many people eat lamb for Easter. I’m partial to a nice rack of lamb, rubbed in olive oil, garlic, and dried herbs, and then grilled. Once again, go for the Maryhill Zinfandel on this one. If you have time to get out to one of the local wine shops I also suggest grabbing a Temperanillo or a Carmenere. These dark, rich, and spicy Spanish varietals are wonderfully paired with the flavors of the meat.

Oh, and not to forget, if you are into spending Easter sitting on the couch eating the head off of a chocolate bunny, I suggest a nice Cabernet Sauvignon. Dark chocolate bunny head goes really well with a nice glass of Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon.

Enjoy and have a great Easter!

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