Pairing Wines with Traditional Easter Dinner Dishes
It's nearly that time of year again for families to gather around the dinner table and share in a dining experience that showcases all the hearty dishes that have solidified their place within the Easter dinner lineup. Traditionally, most dinners consist of a bountiful spread of side dishes such as roasted sweet potatoes and root vegetables, roasted asparagus or Brussels sprouts, potatoes au gratin, and homemade bread. Naturally, each of these dishes possesses a specific flavor profile that compliments the main course -- which for most is leg of lamb or glazed ham. The diversity of flavors found in traditional Easter dinners offers some exciting opportunities for wine pairings.
The Fundamentals of Pairing
Food and wine pairings should be imaginative and adventurous. But having a small amount of knowledge on how certain herbs, spices, and flavors counteract with wine can go a long way when trying to execute the perfect pairing. White or red seems to be the initial question that most hosts ask themselves when performing this task. The beautiful thing about most of the traditional dishes served at Easter dinner is that they offer great versatility when it comes to wine pairing. Let's explore a few different white and red wine options and briefly explain why they make exceptional pairings with foods typically consumed on Easter day.
Roasted root vegetables as well as roasted greens with a caramelized outer skin pair fantastically with bright, semi-sweet white wines such as Rieslings, and Gewurztraminers. The dryness of these wines greatly accentuates spices such as cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg, allspice, and brown sugar. Carrots, turnips, and sweet potatoes dashed with these spices are excellent matches for semi-sweet white wines. Chardonnay is another white wine that can be paired with these dishes but try to avoid overly bold Chardonnays that can easily overpower the subtleties of root vegetables and potatoes.
White wine and food pairings:
- Roasted asparagus with brown sugar and butter, topped with sliced, cinnamon-dusted almonds -- Gewürztraminer
- Pan-fried cauliflower and turnips with nutmeg butter and whole white Tellicherry peppercorns -- Riesling
- Scalloped potatoes with fresh garlic cloves, butter, and heavy cream topped with fresh Parmesan -- Chardonnay
Main courses offer a wide range of pairing possibilities as there are so many red wines available these days. Lamb can be pleasantly paired with bolder, richer red wines. A peppery Syrah or Cabernet Sauvignon will be a great match for the slight gaminess of lamb. A traditional glazed ham can be effortlessly paired with a more approachable, lighter red wine such as a Pinot Noir, Grenache, or even a Rose. The earthiness and mild acidity of these red wines balance out the sugary, smokiness of glazed ham.
Red wine and food pairings:
- Roasted leg of lamb with sage butter, black pepper, and dried currants -- Syrah
- Honey and ancho chile glazed ham with a brown sugar and butter reduction -- Pinot Noir
- Pan fried lamb chops with sun-dried tomato coulis and pepper gastrique -- Cabernet Sauvignon
Now that we've covered food and wine pairings for traditional Easter dinners, you should be confident that you can take on the task head first and leave your guests satisfied and hopefully praising your pairing skills. It's important to note that the wines here are also easily interchangeable and can be substituted for one another while still achieving the desired effect. But these recommendations should be a great starting point. Enjoy your holiday!