Easter Sunday is not only a time to reflect and celebrate, it is also when family and friends gather around the table to share a special meal together. Traditional Easter menus tend to center around either a roasted ham or a leg of lamb, but which wines go best with those dishes?
Let's explore the styles of wine that are perfect pairings for your favorite Easter entrees.
Wine Pairings for Ham
Ham is often prepared with glazes or toppings that are sweet and can balance the inherent saltiness of the meat. Well paired wines can accomplish the same objective.
For ham, the best "tried and true" companion wines are a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer. Both wines tend to offer fresh, flavorful profiles with enough sweet fruit to balance the salt in the ham. The acidity is also a nice support for the combination and it won't compromise the flavor in either the ham or the wine.
There are plenty of easy-to-find Rieslings that offer good value and high quality. Consider an Alsatian or German Riesling for their mineral-laden, Old World character. A bright Washington state Riesling from either Charles Smith or Chateau Ste. Michelle are nice choices as well.
Both Riesling and Gewurztraminer are crowd-pleasing white wines. They have the versatility to handle a wide variety of palates while accommodating plenty of preparation options for ham. As an alternative, a lightly oaked Chardonnay would also handle ham well if you are partial to that particular white wine.
If red wine is your first choice, then a Zinfandel is a perfect pick. The higher alcohol content and fruit-forward approach can certainly handle the ham's sweeter side.
Wine Pairings for Lamb
Whether you're serving rack of lamb, leg of lamb, or a lamb roast, the strategy is to stick with your well-grounded red wines. These include a red Burgundy, a northern Rhone red, and a Cabernet Sauvignon. You also can't go wrong with Malbec, Merlot, Tempranillo, or Shiraz.
Try vineyards such as Terrazas de los Andes for Malbec, a Tempranillo from La Rioja Alta Vina Alberdi Reserva, and Hawk and Horse's Cabernet Sauvignon.
The ultimate goal is to find red wines with a decent tannin structure, good fruit, and a finish that can stand up to lamb. Your wine should have enough fruit and acidity to handle the robust flavors of the lamb, but not overpower it in the process.
Wines From Israel
If you are interested in a more authentic Easter wine selection, consider a wine from Israel. The country has come onto the international wine scene with some serious vintages that are worth exploring.
With over 100 wineries between estates and smaller boutique wineries, there are plenty of options to choose from. A few of the well-distributed Israeli wines to look for include Yarden, Golan Heights, and Galil Mountain. However, there are many more options worthy of your Easter menu.