Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wines for Easter

By Liza B. Zimmerman

Easter comes early this week and with it we may have cooler weather. What you will want to pair with your pre-Springtime feast will depend on what the main course of the day is. Italians classically pair Lambrusco—with its lovely bubbles—with the holiday turkey. One of my favorites is Lini, but there are many great choices, which run from fairly sweet to almost totally dry.

Another super flexible stand-in might be a fruit-forward, sparkling Shiraz from down under. You will want to stay away from big reds with tannins if you want to choose a wine to go with a wide range of meats and vegetables. Old World classics such as Burgundy and Cabernet Franc-based reds from the Loire Valley would be great choices. The smoky and mineral infused Jean-Maurice Raffault "Les Galluches” is a superb choice. One of the Beaujolais Crus might also be delicious since Nouveau season is long over.

For that Turkey
Wine choices to pair with that bird or game birds in general, are pretty wide open depending on how you cook it. If you deep-fry a turkey you will want a crisp, acidic white to cut through the intense, crusty exterior. A slightly off-dry Riesling, from anywhere from Germany to the Finger Lakes in New York will work well. A Gewurztraminer, or an esoteric white, such as Kerner from Trentino Alto Adige, such as the Kofererhof Alto Adige Valle Isarco Kerner 2007, would pair nicely with it.

If the bird is stuffed with sausage and roasted you will want to move over to a light red. While New World Pinots, particularly with high levels of alcohol, may overwhelm the bird, Burgundy will be perfect. An Austrian red, such as the relatively unknown Zweigelt might be delicious.

For Lamb and Pork
For a tender cut of intensely flavored lamb you will want to pull out the big guns: think Cabernet Sauvignon if your chops are pepper incrusted or maybe Cotes du Rhone. Red Bordeaux and California- and Chilean-produced Bordeaux blends will also hit the spot. Washington State is also home to some impressive, locally produced Cabernet Sauvignon-based wines, such as Reynvaan "In The Rocks.”

Or go all Syrah with a bottle such as Yann Chave’s Crozes-Hermitage to impress your guests. Or head to Northern Spain for massive blends from the Priorat region. Alavaro Palacio’s “Les Terrases,” is dense, intense and great with meat. 

Pork pairings can vary depending how the pork is prepared. If it has hints of sweetness, like country ham, you will want to go with an off-dry white. If it is herb-encrusted, an herbaceous wine such as a Vermentino from Italy will balance out its flavors.

If you prepare any of your meats with a tomato sauce remember that tannic reds will fight with its acidic taste profile. Tomatoes have a love affair with Italian reds, particularly Sangiovese. I love wines from the Southern Tuscan region of La Maremma and Le Sughere di Frassinello, a Sangiovese blend, is a standout. You could also wow your guests with a taste of the Tuscan highlife: a little Brunello.

Cheers from DrinkUpNY!

Liza B. Zimmerman has been writing and consulting about wine and food for two decades. She is principal of the San Francisco-based Liza the Wine Chick wine writing, education and consulting firm. She has worked on staff and freelance at national magazines such as Wine Enthusiast, The Magazine of La Cucina Italiana, Wine Spectator, Where SF and the Examiner. She currently contributes to Cheers, Wine Business Monthly and the Examiner, among others.

Zimmerman focuses on demystifying wine and transforming it into a tool for business and networking for companies all over the country. Past clients include Genentech, Roche and IBM.

She has visited all the world’s major wine regions and is one of select few in the U.S. to hold the Diploma of Wine & Spirits (D.W.S.), the three-year precursor to the Master of Wine.

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