Easter Sunday is not only a time to reflect and celebrate but 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? Here are suggestions for pairing wines with your Easter dinner entrees.
Wines for Ham
Ham is often prepared with glazes or toppings that are sweet and can balance the inherent saltiness of the actual meat.
Well paired wines can accomplish the same objective. For ham, the best "tried and true" companion wines are--hands-down--a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer. Both wines tend to offer fresh, flavorful taste profiles with enough sweet fruit to balance the salt in the ham and enough acidity to support the combination without compromising 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 or a bright Washington state Riesling from either Charles Smith or Chateau Ste. Michelle. If you are opting for a spicy Gewürztraminer, you may consider successful vintners such as Columbia-Crest, Trimbach or Domaine Schlumberger.
Both Riesling and Gewurztraminer are crowd-pleasing white wine favorites that have the versatility to handle a wide variety of palates while accommodating plenty of preparation options for ham.
A lightly oaked Chardonnay would also handle ham well if you are partial to this particular white wine.
If red wine is your first choice, then a Zinfandel is a perfect pick, as the higher alcohol content and fruit forward approach can handle the ham's sweeter side.
Wines for Lamb
As for lamb, whether rack of lamb, leg of lamb or roast of lamb, the strategy is to stick with your well grounded red wines--a red Burgundy, a northern Rhone red, a Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, Merlot or a 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.
You are shooting for red wines with decent tannin structure, good fruit and a finish that can stand up to the lamb's taste. The goal is to have a wine with 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 opting for a more authentic Easter wine selection, then consider a wine from Israel. Israel has come onto the international wine scene with some serious vintages. With over 140 wineries, between estates and smaller boutique wineries, there are plenty of wines to choose from. Look for Yarden, Golan Heights and Galil Mountain just to name a few well-distributed wines from Israel.