Easter is around the corner, and you’re probably in the thick of planning your feast. Just as important as the foods you prepare are the drinks you serve. Although it’s tough to gauge what your guests may prefer, here are some suggestions of our favorite pairings. Use these as a guideline as you finish planning your day’s meal!
Welcoming your guests with light appetizers and hardy cheeses is a popular way to make them feel comfortable and a good buffer between arrival and dinner. Greet them with champagne or a sparkling wine to keep the mood light. If you’re planning on serving bruschetta as well you can pair it with a nice, young Chianti. Serving shrimp cocktail? Offer a Chardonnay to please the palette.
Ham is a tough one to pair with a wine, which is why it’s important to note what type of ham you will be preparing. Will it be spicy? Smoky? Topped with pineapple? A good Virginia ham can be
served a number of ways. If you will be serving a honey ham, try pairing with a Riesling, Gewurztraminer, or Viognier. The light and fruitiness of the wine compliments the sweetness in the ham. If you plan to make the ham on the spicier side, choose a red bursting with fruit to counteract the kick in the ham. Go with a Beaujolais to balance the spice and saltiness of your ham.
Many people can’t fathom a ham without pineapple, orange, or, one of my favorites, bathed in Dr. Pepper (yes! That’s a thing!) For your white wine drinkers choose a full-bodied Pinot Gris or a rich, fruity Nebbiolo from Breaux Vineyards.
If ham isn’t on the menu, consider serving lamb. If you already planned on making lamb the centerpiece of your dinner, the wines you choose will be slightly different. Most times, lamb is served with garlic, onions, and other spices. If this is how you choose to serve your lamb, you’ll need to serve it with a strong Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon. The Winery at La Grange makes a delicious Cabernet with hints of candied cranberry, red fruits, bright red apple, and pomegranate,. A milder lamb dish pairs nicely with Pinot Noir or Riesling (for your white wine fans).
If your family is less into meats and more into fish or chicken as tradition, don’t fret. A rich and fatty salmon pairs very nicely with a Chardonnay; choose a flavorful Pinot Noir to match the delicate flavors of a roast chicken.
Lastly, if veal is the meat du jour, try the dry, fruity taste of a Malbec or Greenhill Winery’s ‘Ontology’. This beet-red wine begins with intense aromas of soft wood and earth, moving on to dark cherries and wild fruits, and then a long, tannic finish bursting with wild raspberries. The two marry into a wonderful explosion of flavor; neither being the dominant taste in your mouth.
Pairing wines with certain foods can be tricky; with our suggestions, you’ll be the star of the night!