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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

The Easter Bunny is coming! Wine recommendations for your Easter celebration

In 2015, Catholic & Orthodox Easter fall in the same month but a week apart (April 5 & 12 respectively). While the celebrations may vary between the Christian faiths, there is one common fact - it is a time for family & friends to gather around the table for a celebration.

On both Easter tables you will find some version of lamb (chops, legs, whole animals....take your pick), perhaps a ham and fresh spring vegetables & salads.  With all of the fresh flavors that will abound on the Easter table, finding wines that will match well can be a difficult task.  

Here are a few recommendations for wines that pair well with any food - Greek or not:
White Wine
When pairing white wine with lamb or ham, you need a wine with good acidity and body to stand up to the fuller flavors of these meats.  In these instances, I would recommend white wines that have seen a small bit of time on oak to give them structure.  While a nice Chablis from France would be a good choice, great Greek options include:

Ktima Pavlidis Assyrtiko - it has great acidity but spends a small amount of time on its lees (dead yeast cells), which gives the wines a creamy texture while preserving the lovely floral aromatics.

Gentilini Robola - A grape variety that is known for weight on the palate and blossom notes on the nose.  it has great acidity and can hold up to the Easter meats as well as the lighter dishes as well.

Rose Wine
For me, nothing says springtime and warmer weather like rose.  Rose offers the best of both worlds - they have great acidity and are lighter than red wines so they can be served chilled and offer a refreshing alternative to red wine.  Even though many prefer the pale salmon colored rose wines, I prefer the darker colored, more full bodied rose wines for the Easter meal.  Options here include:

Mercouri Lampadias - The Mercouri Estate is located in the Western Peloponnese, near ancient Olympia. Lampadias is a unique blend of the Italian grape, Negroamaro, Syrah and the Greek grape, Agiorgitiko.  it is a beautiful rose color with bright acidity and floral notes.  This wine pairs amazingly well with asparagus, spring peas & ham.

GAIA 14-18h - The name refers to the amount of hours the juice & the skin remain in contact for color extraction.  This rose is a red wine drinkers rose - it is more full bodied with subtle tannins and great acidity. This wine is a true crowd pleaser.

 Red Wine
When pairing red wines with the delicate meats of Easter, big, oaky styles are NOT your friend.  They overpower the food and typically do not have enough acidity to balance with the meal.  Look for lighter styles of wines including Oregon Pinot Noir or Sicilian reds made from local varieties.  From Greece, look for wines that are either unoaked or lightly oaked.  For me, with warmer weather, I turn towards unoaked red wines to give me great acidity and subtle tannins.  Options here include:

Karavitakis Little Prince Red - made from the Cretan varieties Mandilari & Kotsifali, this is a 100% unoaked wine that has some pepper and wild herb notes - perfect with lamb.  Serve slightly chilled

Spiropoulos Porfyros - This option is a bit more mainstream and is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc & Merlot.  This wine has seen some time in the barrel, but is not an overpowering oak-y style. Guaranteed to be a hit with your "big red" wine fans.

You can find these wines in retail shops across the country - if they do not have them in stock, ask them to order them for you.

Best wishes for a Happy Easter!!!

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