Easter foods & wine

Easter 2021 by Wines With Attitude

The long Easter weekend is usually a great time for getting together with family and friends; this year, 2021, with some coronavirus restrictions still in place, Easter celebrations will have to be outdoors - but at least we are able to meet others (here in England it's the Rule of 6 or two households) even if it might be a little cool. It's an excuse to celebrate after what has been a tough year, perhaps splash out on some great wine and food. There is no one specific Easter dish in the UK so in this blog I look at a number of main dishes served up and down the country and make suggestions for wines that will complement if not enhance your Easter dinner, lunch or brunch - and take into consideration the fact that it will be held outside if you are meeting others.

There are no hard and fast rules because we tend to eat a wide range of foods together and therefore it can be difficult to find wines to complement all the different flavours.  But you won't go wrong if you stick to the basic guidelines in my Food & Wine Matching blog.

Firstly, match the richness and weight of the main dish with the body of the wine; so richer dishes with heavier, fuller-bodied wines and light foods with lighter wines.

Wine for Easter fish dishes

Fish at Easter by Wines With Attitude
My local fishmonger, who has kept me well stocked over lockdown, tells me that the tradition of eating fish on Good Friday is not necessarily adhered to these days but if you are going to have a #FishFriday light crisp wines are usually a good first choice. So try something like a minerally Italian Gavi di Gavi, Sauvignon Blanc or a lovely, light Picpoul de Pinet.

However if rich sauces or stronger flavours like red peppers are served with the fish you would be wise to choose a white wine with more body like a Sémillon or a Chardonnay, oaked or unoaked.

One exception is for Poached Salmon where the classic match is an oaked Chardonnay from Burgundy or in a Burgundy style if served without sauces.
Red wine and fish has traditionally been a No-No in the UK but not so much in Mediterranean countries so if you want red wine with fish, take a leaf out of their book and choose a lighter, fruity style of red wine - or a rosé such as this amazing Sancerre rosé. If you are eating ouside and it is chilly bear in mind that cooler red wine can taste a little flat so make sure your wine is up to room temperature before you take it outside and put some sort of insulation around the bottle to stop it cooling down too much.
The fundamental rule, whatever colour wine you choose is not to overpower the fish.

Wine for Easter chicken or turkey

Chicken or Turkey for Easter by Wines With AttitudeRoast chicken and turkey are relatively light but if you are serving either with lots of accompaniments the meal can become rich so bear that in mind.
You can serve red or white wine depending on personal preference; for me it would have to be an oaked Chardonnay.

If you do decide on red wine, since chicken has little fat in it make sure the wine does not have too many tannins - tannic wines need fattier cuts of meat to help soften the tannins. I would suggest a Cabernet Sauvignon with a bit of age and low tannins, a Pinot Noir or a smooth Rhône or Rhône-style wine. Cold weather will make those tannins seem harsher still, so another reason to go for a low tannin option.

Wine for Easter beef

Beef for Easter by Wines With Attitude

Given the guidance above on tannins, the best match for Roast Beef will also depend on the fattiness of the meat: wines with lower tannins like a Cru Beaujolais or a mature Claret for less fatty beef and for a more fatty joint wines with more tannins to cut through the richness e.g. a younger Cabernet Sauvignon or Touriga Nacional.

Wine for Easter lamb

Lamb for Easter by Wines With AttitudeRoast Lamb is a popular dish for Easter Sunday and as a fattier meat will stand up to a more tannic wine which effectively cleanses the palate. Left Bank Bordeaux wines which are usually Cabernet Sauvignon-dominant will work beautifully or a New World Cabernet-dominant Bordeaux blend but again, don't serve the wine too cold or let it get cold as the tannins will seem harsh.

I also find an excellent match in a top Rioja or you could try Priorat for a change, another smooth Spanish wine from the top DOCG qualification level.
If you prefer not to have red wine, then look at Provence rosés or an oaked white wine like a white Bordeaux.

Wine for Easter duck

Easter wine for duck from Wines With Attitude
For duck the classic pairing is Pinot Noir whatever the sauces served with it. But alternatives could include fruity reds from Beaujolais or Italy where the acidity of the wine will cut through the fat or for a special Easter treat, this Brunello di Montalcino has been tried and tested by yours truly as a great pairing with roast duck..

Wine for Easter ham & gammon

Ham for Easter by Wines With Attitude

You should also avoid tannic wines if your dish is salty for example Roast Ham or Gammon although sweet glazes on the meat can counter this a little. I suggest an off-dry style of Riesling or oaked Chardonnay and for red wine, a fruity red such as Cru Beaujolais or a Rhône style Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre ("GSM") blend.

Wine for Easter vegetarian & vegan dishes

Plant-based food for Easter by Wines With Attitude
There are so many options for vegan and vegetarian food that it is impossible to generalise on the best wine; as a guideline  think about the sauces and strong flavours of the dish and make sure you select a wine that won't overpower delicate flavours and that won't be maked by stronger flavours. If you did go for a traditional nut roast, you will need a full-bodied white such as Chenin Blanc, Sémillon or an oaked Chardonnay as it can be quite rich or a fruity red wine such as a Cru Beaujolais. Vegetable dominant dishes generally match well with Sancerre but creamy sauces need something less crisp like Chenin Blanc or Chardonnay.

Mushrooms need a wine that's quite earthy and you will find Pinot Noir or an oaked Chardonnay to be the perfect partner.

And wine for chocolate!

And as it's Easter a brief mention of chocolate... one of the most difficult foods with which to pair wine. My absolute current favourite is Weingut Turk's ice wine or eiswein which will go with all types of chocolate. It's sweet but with lovely fresh acidity to balance the sweetness - read my blogpost on how ice wine is made for more information.
Ice wine is perfect for chocolate desserts


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Lindsay Cornelissen DipWSET is passionate about good quality wine and set up Wines With Attitude to share that passion with other wine lovers.

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