The Easter holiday is an excellent excuse to break out special bottles that will take your meal to new heights. The standard Easter main dishes–glazed ham and succulent lamb–are both wine-friendly foods, and spring veggies, brunch casseroles, and even chocolate bunnies can make their own matches. We've broken down a typical Easter meal by each course, with wine pairings for each.
Appetizer or Salad Course
Start guests off with a light white wine that evokes the pleasures of spring. Fresh, zingy New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc is the perfect sipper for snacks (try Kim Crawford, a grassy, herbal, grapefruit-scented wine that's an incredible value at $13).
If you're starting dinner with a salad or spring veggies, Sauvignon Blanc is also a good match. Or try a Grüner Veltliner from Austria, another grapefruity white wine with hints of white pepper that perfectly complement the vegetables. Hofer Grüner Veltliner ($16) is made from organic grapes and comes in a liter bottle, so you gain an extra two glasses.
The Main Meal
A zippy, aromatic Riesling is the classic accompaniment to a glazed ham; the wine's acidity tames the glaze and its slight sweetness matches it. Try the rich and fruity Australian Jacob's Creek Reserve Riesling ($13).
Lamb, with its complex meaty flavors, is a natural match with red wines. A bold, rich California red wine like Peju's Persephone Vineyard Cabernet Franc 2005 ($55) from the Napa Valley will stand up to roasted lamb. If you prefer earthier wines, try the 2005 Les Deux Rhônes Chateaufeuf-du-Pape ($19), a blend of Grenache and Syrah that tastes of cherries and a hint of spice, or an Italian Chianti like the 2004 Il Molino de Grace Chianti Classico Reserva ($30).
Pour white wine from the first course for those who don't drink reds or eat meat.
Coconut cake is a classic Easter dessert; pair it very simply with after-dinner coffee or a vibrant, tropical Chardonnay like the 2006 Miner Wild Yeast Chardonnay ($50). Nibbling on chocolate bunnies? Port with chocolate is a classic pairing. Or simply serve a sumptuous after-dinner wine that's dessert in itself, like Canadian ice wine from Konzelmann Estate.
Note: Wine prices vary by vintage and store. Those listed are suggested retail prices.
Gretchen Roberts, founder and editor of Vinobite.com, is at the upper end of the Millennial generation, old enough to have a decade of wine-drinking under her belt but young enough to know that wine is about three important things: finding a great bottle at a good value, vicariously exploring the world, and having fun with friends. Roberts writes about wine for Wine Enthusiast, MyRecipes.com, Cooking Light, and Slashfood.com.