Friday, March 15, 2013

Easter Food & Wine Pairings

There are many reasons to celebrate and appreciate this time of year, from the more serious occasions of Passover and Easter to the less formal, but equally inspiring, Saturday night with friends. The days are growing longer and everywhere there are telltale signs that winter is thawing – spring fever, anyone? Recently, our office chit-chat turned heady and hedonistic, as a friend recounted her upcoming Easter feast.

As she described the menu in great detail and the mouth-watering meal started to come to life, she asked us “What wines should I serve?” After a quick detour to the Bounty Hunter cellar (online), we found some delicious gems to fit the bill. We've decided to share some of our finds to get you started too.

Set yourself up for successful wine pairings with a few broad strokes in mind. Acid, alcohol and tannin all love fat, which is why that marbled hunk of meat goes great with a bold red wine (Joseph Phelps 'Insignia', or Kapcsandy perhaps). Bitter foods, such as bitter greens, will not work well with a tannic wine. They’ll be much friendlier with a juicy, fruity wine instead (Streamside Riesling or Mathis Grenache). Heavy foods require an appropriately weighty wine, while lighter wines lend themselves to more delicate fare, such as a crisp Sauvignon Blanc (Six Sigma for example) will pair beautifully with a citrusy lobster salad.

With the ground-rules set, it’s time to dig in. Thanksgiving may have turkey, but Easter (and spring) is the season of ham, lamb and prime rib. Not to mention, every incarnation of potatoes and vegetables under the sun. Let’s break down why these foods lend themselves to certain wines.

Ham – it’s rich, salty and naturally a bit sweet. While sweetness poses a bit of a wine pairing challenge, look to your wine as a refreshing foil of flavors to lighten things up. Depending on the spices and seasonings employed, a lighter, high acid wine such as the 2010 Louis Latour Marsannay, or the lively 2010 Waypoint Blue Farm Pinot Noir bring an elegance to the table. For those who’d rather sip on a white wine, try a brightly balanced Chardonnay such as the 2010 Waypoint Donum Estate Chardonnay to keep them smiling.

If lamb is the order of the day, rest assured, your wine choice can climb the intensity ladder a few rungs. Lamb is naturally on the gamey side and calls for a more muscular dancing partner. The 2010 Pursuit Campfire Red is a sure-fire go-to, but then again, the sophisticated 2009 Jonata El Desafio de Jonata Red would also be impressive.

When it comes to prime rib, (or beef brisket for Passover Seder), it seems only fitting that a Cabernet grace the table. Perhaps the 2010 Weatherby Red, or we can imagine a bottle or two of 2010 Ehlers Estate 120/80 Cabernet. Mmmm.

No matter the menu, we wish you a successful and fun holiday. Cheers to a Happy Easter, Passover, or any other spring celebration that gathers you and yours ‘round the table this season.

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