Choosing the Best Wines for Easter Dinner

Whether it's ham, lamb or prime rib taking center stage at Easter Dinner, we've rounded up some best bets for the ultimate Easter wine pairing. Traditional Easter meals, whether served mid-day or later in the evening often showcase glazed ham or roasted lamb served with seasonal spring veggies. Prime rib and poultry picks may also make their way to the table on Easter Sunday, as suitable, savory stand-ins for a more classic fare.

Best Bets for Easter Fare

Earthy, Syrah-based wines represent a natural pairing partner for the sometimes gamey, often herb-filled recipes for roasted lamb. The forward fruit of California Zinfandel makes a strong case for picking up the somewhat sweeter aspects of traditional baked ham and fruit-driven sides. When it comes to steak and prime rib, Cabernet Sauvignon, Bordeaux blends and straight up Merlot themes will take your pairing in the right direction. Serving recipes with a lighter side - appetizers, salads and veggie-laden options? Then check out some of the snazzy (and inexpensive) sparkling wines from Alsace, Spain, or Italy to bring a festive flair and versatile, ultra-fresh flavors to all sorts of seasonally-inspired dishes. Have to have a picture-perfect wine for the classic end of Easter dinner... carrot cake? No problem, give it a go with the easy-going, sweeter side of Italy's famous Moscato. Need a little wine more buying inspiration? Look no further, we've gathered some of our favorite recent release wines to get your Easter Dinner wine pairings started.

  • 01 of 12

    Guigal Côtes du Rhône 2011 (FR) $13

    Cotes du Rhone. E. Guigal

    A Rhone Valley classic, and perhaps one of the most popular entry-level wines for those wanting to tiptoe into the wide world of the Rhone Valley. The 2011 Guigal Cotes du Rhone brings the traditional GSM-based blends (Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre) in the form of

    49% Syrah, 46% Grenache and 5% Mourvedre. Smoke, earth, a heady combination of both red and black fruit along with the spice components of black pepper and warm clove make their way out of the bottle. Rhone Valley reds are made for lamb, especially roasted lamb with rosemary and thyme in the mix. Well-priced and well-made, this Rhone red delivers quality content again and again.

  • 02 of 12

    Grgich Hills Zinfandel 2011 (CA) $35

    Grgich Hills Zinfandel. Grgich Hills

    This bold-styled, classic Napa Valley Zinfandel hails from a 30+ acre vineyard in Calistoga, situated at the northern tip of Napa Valley. Grown with predominantly northeast-facing sun exposure, the grapes gather plenty of bright morning sun but are buffered from the extreme, alcohol-inducing heat of the late afternoon rays. Hence the modest 14.5% alcohol and not the 15+% we commonly see from California Zin. Red fruit dominates the palate profile, offset by a swirl of blackberry and the characteristic black pepper spice. A dash of Petite Sirah (to the tune of 2%) augments the structural integrity by adding tannin and amplifying the dark purple color components. I love that this wine has been aged in large oak casks, for modest oak exposure to add both palate interest and integrated intrigue. Exceptional for pairing with the earthy character of lamb, this 2011 Grgich Hills Zinfandel outdoes itself to keep pace with the bold flavors and often gamey flavors found in this popular Easter dish. Did I mention, Grgich Hills farms with certified organic vineyards?

  • 03 of 12

    Yarden Merlot 2012 (Israel) $27

    Yarden Merlot 2012. Yarden Golan Heights Winery

    While it might seem a bit cliche to feature a wine from Israel for Easter, rest assured this is not your "typical" kosher, sticky sweet red wine. The 2012 Yarden Merlot is ready to rumble with the best of under $30 Merlots from both Old World and New World regions. Carrying a considerable blend of ripe berry fruit with a lovely swag of dried herbs and crushed tobacco leaves and rounding out the palate ensemble with a sprinkle of dark chocolate, the 2012 Yarden Merlot shows a full-body and full-flavored finish. Equally compatible with both ham or lamb, as well as filet mignon or braised poultry picks, this agile wine brings the best of versatility and value to the Easter table.

  • 04 of 12

    Rte Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc 2015 (CA) $28

    From Clif Family Winery, this 100% Sauvignon Blanc from Napa's St. Helena screams spring! Ultra fresh and loaded with everything from juicy tropical fruit to the lively layout of lemon-lime themes, this particular Sauvignon Blanc is completely capable of marrying well with all sorts of veggie dishes, roasted herb-filled poultry, grilled pork options and fantastic with seafood ensembles or seasonal salads (especially topped with goat cheese).

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  • 05 of 12

    Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon 2011 (CA) $65

    Hawk and Horse Cabernet Sauvignon. Hawk and Horse Vineyards

    This limited production Cabernet Sauvignon from California's Lake County in the Red Hills AVA is well-situated in the northern Mayacamas Mountains and tows a stringent Demeter Biodynamic certification along with it. Not your typical California Cabernet, this bottle carries an almost Old World elegance, perhaps it's the 80% new French Oak, or the minimalist philosophies that direct cellar operations, maybe it's the touch of Bordeaux-inspired Petit Verdot; whatever it is the sum of this wine is the consummate calling for an Easter Dinner that features prime rib.

  • 06 of 12

    Lynmar Winery Russian River Pinot Noir 2013 (CA) $42

    Lynmar Estate Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Lynmar Estate

    Pinot Noir, one of the most food-friendly and versatile wines around, and California's Russian River Valley is home to some of Sonoma's very best Pinot Noir offerings. Lynmar marries the best of both by bringing fruit from six Russian River vineyards to the table in their 2013 Russian River Pinot highlighting gorgeous garnet color components, mingling black cherry, strawberry, and raspberry fruit character all infused with the warm spicy notes of vanilla, pepper, and clove. Perfect for pairing with mushroom themes and sauces, grilled salmon or roasted chicken, and a standout with pork loin, this particular Pinot Noir will be one of the most versatile wines to offer at an Easter Dinner.

  • 07 of 12

    Rombauer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2012 (CA) $52

    Rombauer Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. Rombauer Vineyards

    If you are looking to turn things up a notch with a classic Napa Valley Cab over Easter Dinner, then you might want to snag a bottle of the 2012 Rombauer Cab. A blend of fruit from some of Napa Valley's most prestigious appellations (Atlas Peak, Calistoga, Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Rutherford, Stags Leap, and St. Helena), and delivering 17 months in 70% new French Oak, the 2012 Rombauer Cab shows a savvy assortment of dark fruit. Blackberry, jammy plum, and cherry nuances welcome oak's unmistakable influences in the distinctive notes of cinnamon and cedar. Ideal for serving alongside steak, prime rib, or grilled lamb, the fuller body, persistent finish and ongoing palate appeal give Easter options a serious leg up.

  • 08 of 12

    Chateau Des Annereaux Lalande de Pomerol 2010 (FR) $20

    Chateau des Annereaux Lalande de Pomerol. Chateau des Annereaux

    Bordeaux and lamb, like two peas in a pod, they are made for one another. This affordable ambassador from Bordeaux is built on the back of all organic grapes and showcases considerable integration between the fruit, the structural components and the oak influence. A delicious treat that leans well into both red and black fruit character with a generous dose of tobacco and a hint of espresso, the Ch. Des Annereaux promises plenty of bang for your Bordeaux buck.

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  • 09 of 12

    Ancient Peaks Renegade 2012 (CA) $20

    Renegade. Ancient Peaks Winery

    With a serious nod back towards Syrah, this celebrated Paso Robles-based winery has put together a creative red wine blend built on the rugged back of Syrah (71%), Malbec (24%), and a decent dash of Petit Verdot (5%). Ideal for a rack of lamb, lamb chops, braised lamb and more, the 2012 Renegade is poised to partner well with a ripe, fruit-forward stride, as a handful of flavors including blackberry, earthy mineral components, and a delicious smidge of mocha work their way out of the glass. Also ideal for pairing up with prime rib and peppered steak, roasted duck and for the slightly unorthodox Easter Dinner dash of barbecue.

  • 10 of 12

    St. Urbans-Hof Estate Riesling Kabinett 2014 (Germany) $20

    This traditional, off-dry Riesling hails from Germany's renown Mosel Valley with vines grown on the time-honored, single-post, "heart-shaped" trellis system. Organic fertilizers prevail and low-yields are encouraged to maintain the expression and innate integrity of the fruit. The off-dry style showcases a dramatic balance between the sweet factor of the residual sugar and the intense acidity found in many cool, northern climate regions. A gorgeous dance takes place that brings the alcohol levels in at a very modest 10.5%. Absolutely made for partnering with all things ham, whether honeyed, baked, or glazed this Riesling will highlight the dish with fresh apricot nuances and a zip of green apple.

  • 11 of 12

    Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose (FR) $20

    Lucien Albrecht Cremant d'Alsace Brut Rose. Lucien Albrecht

    Perhaps one of the most versatile sparkling rosé wines around, this Alsatian delight brings an incredible fresh factor to the glass and the dish that enjoys the pairing privilege. Made in the same method as traditional Champagne, with the second fermentation taking place in the bottle, this rosé is crafted from 100% Pinot Noir. Expect bright red berry notes along with a splash of zesty citrus, and with 9 months spent on the lees, don't be surprised by the exceptional depth and creamy textures. Perfect for pairing with all sorts of ham inspired dishes and equally able to handle a variety of veggie-themed sides, appetizers, smoked salmon, poultry and more.


  • 12 of 12

    Ruffino Prosecco (Italy) $12

    Ruffino Prosecco DOC. Ruffino

    Popular Prosecco, made from the Glera grape and finding firm footing in the northeast corner of Italy's Veneto region, showcases lots of palate pep amid bubbles and the expected flavors of apples and apricots. The second fermentation of Prosecco occurs in stainless steel tanks, where bubbles are trapped and then bottled. This process is a bit more economical than the traditional method of capturing bubbles in the bottle that inspires the best of Champagne. Perfect as an Easter Dinner apéritif or an easy addition to appetizers, salads, seafood or poultry picks, Ruffino's Prosecco is the easy go-to glass for guests whether they prefer wine, beer or cocktails.