For many people Easter Sunday is a time for celebration and indulgence. It’s the first opportunity after Christmas and New Year to invite the family round and serve up a festive feast.
However, while planning the menu for your Easter lunch don’t forget to consider the wine. With so much thought and preparation going into this celebratory feast it would be a shame for the wine to be a disappointment.
It is customary to start a celebration with a glass or two of bubbly. Whilst you could offer your guests a glass of Champagne, Cava or Prosecco, why don’t you take a different approach and hand out glasses of sparkling red wine?
The Aussies are big on sparkling red wine. Shiraz is the most common red wine grape used but other grapes such as Merlot and Chambourcin are also given the fizzy treatment. Jacob’s Creek Sparkling Shiraz is available from many supermarkets for around ￡9.99 and is an enjoyable tipple. If you are prepared to look further than the local supermarket you will find a host of other Aussie red bubblies from reputable wineries such as D’Arenberg, Hugh Hamilton, Andrew McPherson and Fox Creek.
Alternatively try a sparkling red wine from Europe. Lambrusco reds from Italy are readily available and there are other Italian and French sparkling reds available from wine estates such as Bottega and Vincent Edouard Poirier. South African red wine producers have also had a go at sparkling wine – look out for a red bubbly from J.C. Le Roux.
Easter Sunday lunch is usually a roast. Turkey is a popular choice whilst others like to celebrate the onset of spring with some roast lamb. For some, a roast pork joint with crackling is the favoured option. Whichever roast you decide to go for there is a perfect red wine accompaniment.
The more robust flavours of turkey mean that it can take a richer wine than chicken and a fruity, not too tannic red wine brings out the best in this traditional festive bird. The perfect match is an Australian Shiraz and even the huge Barossa Shiraz reds are not too much for turkey. Australian Shiraz- Cabernet blends make wonderful partners for turkey too. New World Cabernet Sauvignons from Australia, Chile or California can also be very good provided they are not too tannic. Other red wine options which are not as good but don’t clash with the turkey flavours include northern Rhone reds and Californian Zinfandel.
Serving stuffing with your turkey can have an impact on your choice of wine. If you are serving a traditional sage and onion stuffing you may find a red Cotes du Rhone or a ripe Merlot work better overall. Bread sauce kills many of the best red wine and turkey combinations – the best option is a Merlot from Chile, Australia or California.
Roast lamb is always a popular choice at Easter. Lamb is in season in spring and is at its best so it needs an appropriate red wine to make Easter lunch one to remember. The succulent flavours of roast lamb work best with reds which are not too fruity, not too tannic and not too acidic. Fortunately, that leaves a whole host of fantastic reds which make wonderful partners for a roast lamb dinner. Cabernet Sauvignon and Tempranillo grapes make the stand out matches. Try a mature red Bordeaux or a Californian Cabernet for a classic combination. Younger clarets such as St-Emilion and Pomerol work well with roast lamb too. Rioja Gran Reserva makes an elegant match with roast lamb and younger Reservas and Crianzas work almost as well. Other red wine grapes make enjoyable matches with roast lamb too. You could try a Cahors, whether mature or young, or a Zinfandel.
Serving your lamb with herb flavourings can alter the red wine suggestions. Roast lamb with thyme works well with a minty Australian Cabernet Sauvignon, particularly from the Coonawarra region. Roasting the lamb with garlic and rosemary makes Rioja the best option.
If you would like to serve your guests roast pork on Easter Sunday then opt for fairly full-bodied reds with low to middling tannins. Make sure you don’t offer apple sauce as it makes all reds taste flat. French red wines offer many of the best matches with roast pork. The richer styles of Beaujolais Crus such as Morgon, Moulin-a-Vent and Cote de Brouilly are brilliant partners. Reds such St-Joseph, Crozes-Hermitage, Syrah-based Cotes du Rhone and Syrah vins de pays run the risk of overpowering the pork but still make excellent accompaniments. Italian Ciro Reserva makes an enjoyable match and Pinot Noirs from New Zealand or Oregon are also good, although can overpower the flavours of the meat. A light, low tannin red Burgundy may be better.
Image by Rhys Moult.