Wines for Easter

With Easter coming up this weekend, I thought it might be interesting to put together a few recommendations of wines that make a great match for the Easter Sunday roast as well as a few ideas for what you could pair with your chocolate eggs, yes that is right you can get wine that pairs well with chocolate!

First up though the Sunday roast

Traditionally on Easter Sunday the roasting joint of choice tends to be lamb.  A lot will depend on the cut of meat you have and how you are serving it – whether you like it slightly pink or well done, is it a rack of lamb or a roasting joint? is it herb crusted or stuffed with rosemary?  If the weather holds (unlikely!) you could even decide to cook it BBQ style keeping to the rule of 6 outside!

Lamb can be a tad fatty so as a general rule tends to pair well with high acid and slightly tannic wines that can cut through that fattiness. As such wines made from Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah/Shiraz, Tempranillo (ie Rioja)  and Sangiovese (ie Chianti) are great matches.

So depending on how you are serving your lamb –

For a traditional roasting joint:

I tend to look for a wine that is a bit more robust by which I mean has a bit of tannin, acidity and fuller in body.  Here you could look to Bordeaux for a good match – balancing spicy, smoky notes with juicy black fruits.  Bordeaux can be expensive so if you are looking for value, look for the wines with Côtes de Bordeaux on the label. Alternatively, an older Rioja (Reserva or Gran Reserva) would be a good match with its smoky, slightly gamey notes.  Syrah works well too – with its peppery spiciness  and black fruit.

If you are serving it crusted or with rosemary:

Here I’d opt for a red from the southern Rhone, the term ‘garrigue’ is often associated with reds from this region, they have a distinct herbalness to them which would work a treat.  Châteauneuf-du-Pape is a good option or alternatively look to Italy and a Chianti with a couple of years on it, which has a dusty, savouriness that would work well.

If you are cooking younger lamb ie spring lamb then wines which have less tannin work best – here I’d opt for Pinot Noir with its red berry fruit, a touch of earthiness and fine acidity or again, look for an older Rioja with its mellower tannins and earthy gamey notes.

There really are loads of options and ultimately if red isn’t your thing then you could pair with a more robust rosé (not the pretty, delicate pinks from Provence, but the bigger, burlier rosés from Bandol).

Moving onto the matches for Chocolate

First thing to note, the wine doesn’t have to be overtly ‘sweet’ it just needs to have a touch of sweetness. What I would avoid is wine with too much tannin particularly if you are munching on dark chocolate as it would be something of a tannic overload and end up being pretty unpleasant.

My wines of choice if I wanted a drier wine would be a passito style wine such as Amarone or Valpolicella Ripasso, one where there is some residual sugar (ie sweetness) but lots of fruit alongside cocoa and chocolate notes.  Some warm climate reds such as those made from Zinfandel or Shiraz can also work as they can accumulate a lot of sugar. If you have a sweeter tooth however then the options are endless:

For milk chocolate: I’d opt for something fortified and sweet like Maury or Rutherglen Muscat.  Or you could try a sweet sparkling red from Italy called Brachetto d’Acqui – low alcohol, frothy, sweet and very appealing.

If dark chocolate is more your thing then perhaps try with a sweet sherry (Pedro Ximenez…known as PX) this is brilliant over ice cream but also works well with chocolate, alternatively Vin Santo is a good match, rich and sweet with lots of dark cherry fruit.

White chocolate is trickier – I’d opt for lighter bodied, more delicate wines. Icewine is a decadent (and expensive!) match, but light, frothy and sweet works – perhaps a Moscato d’ Asti. I’ve never tried with red wines, but if you want to give it a go, look for reds which are very low in tannin ie Pinot Noir.

Go on, have a bit of fun this Easter and combine your chocolate eating with a glass of something and let me know what you think.

Happy Easter!

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