With a lot of variety of food on the table at Easter, you need versatile red and white wines. Crisp white wines like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio and Riesling are best at combating the saltiness of Ham, while still matching the weight of Salmon, Lamb or Ham that might also accompany your meal. Red wine goes great with Ham as well, specifically Pinot Noir, Zinfandel and Beaujolais. These three reds are perfect for tackling any other meat dishes or sides like Brussels Sprouts, Scalloped Potatoes or even cured meats on fresh dinner rolls.
Chardonnay and Easter Ham Pairing
If you are thinking of pairing a White Wine, try a tropical Chardonnay. The toastiness of the oak will go great with the smoky flavours of the Ham, while the tropical fruit notes, such as pineapple will give the meal a refreshing tang. Where there is oak, there is often a buttery feel to the wine, making Chardonnay the perfect companion to any dishes you might want to add butter too, such as peas and carrots, squash, or potatoes.
Unoaked Chardonnay is brilliant with Ham as well. Here the toasty and buttery flavours are gone, and you’re left with tropical fruit flavours and a subtle minerality that complements the earthiness of Ham. Unoaked Chardonnay is also bursting with crisp pear, apple and citrus flavours that are only enhanced by the saltiness of Easter Ham. We love how the earthy minerality gives it enough texture and complexity to keep pace with the stuffing, potatoes and squash on your plate.
Chardonnay is also excellent with Scalloped Potatoes. Here, you probably want a medium-bodied Chardonnay with a kiss of oak. Unoaked Chardonnay might be crushed by the cheese and cream component of this classic side dish. With an oaky Chardonnay, the weight of the wine matches the heaviness of the cream, butter, cheese and potatoes, while still adding its refreshing bolt of tropical fruit loveliness to the dish.
As far as Lamb or Roast Beef goes, Chardonnay will go fine, but a Pinot Gris would be a better choice by half a star. In all honesty, no white wine will stand up to the gaminess of Lamb, and as such, the meat requires a red wine. Same with beef, in that red wine, is simply a better pairing as it has the necessary tannin to grip on to those rich beef proteins and fats. So while Chardonnay isn’t the best choice for these heavier meats, any white wine lover probably won’t care, so just let them be.
In regard to Turkey and Salmon, a crisp glass of Chardonnay will come off as a crowd-pleaser. Particularly with grilled or smoked Salmon, where an oaky Chardonnay is bold enough to hold up to the oily body of Salmon, while the toastiness of the wine will complement the smokey flavours of the Salmon.
Pinot Noir and Easter Ham Pairings
A fruit forward Californian Pinot Noir is wonderful with smoked or mustard glazed ham. Here vibrant wild straweberry flavours of Pinot Noir will combine well with the sweetness of ham while the spiciness and smokiness that lingers after each sip will keep you entertained. Pinot Noir works best with smoked or mustard glazed ham, however, you’ll find Pinot Noir delicious with all types of ham.
Pinot Noir also works excellent with Lamb, Roast Beef, Turkey and Salmon. Again the rich, fruity flavours merge well with these various meats, while the forest floor notes of Pinot Noir match any herbs or smokiness attached to these popular meats.
With turkey, the low tannin of Pinot Noir plays nice with the white meat, while the tanginess of the fruit has the same effect that the cranberry sauce that often accompanies Turkey has.
People tend to shy away from pairing red wines and fish, but if the wine is low in tannin, the match should be spot on. An excellent pick for a pan-roasted Salmon would be a young Oregon Pinot Noir. (In fact, if you ever visit Oregon, they won’t let you leave until you try the local pairing of Oregon Northwest Salmon and Oregon Pinot Noir). If the Salmon you served is grilled or smoked, choose an Oaky and slightly smoky Pinot Noir. In both cases, either style of Pinot Noir will be a hit with any cooked greens, squash or fennel you have on the table.
Pinot Noir is perfect with any sides that have an earthiness to them, such as Brussels sprouts, Sweet Potatoes, Baked Beans with Bacon, and Turnip.
Zinfandel and Easter Ham Dinner
If you want to stray off the beaten path, you can’t go wrong with a Zinfandel. Zinfandel is such a food-friendly wines and is built to combine with multiple flavours. Thus, you’ll find that Zinfandel will go great with Easter Ham, Lamb and Turkey. However, it wouldn’t be great with Salmon.
Zinfandel is similar to ketchup in that it has an electrifying acidity that adds a bit of sweetness and zip to whatever it touches. Don’t go thinking it tastes like tomatoes, though, as Zinfandel tastes more like strawberries, plums, raspberries and cherries. This effect it has on food makes it an excellent pairing with common Easter sides like Scalloped Potatoes, Stuffing, Baked Beans, Mashed Potatoes, Turnip, and even cheese-covered Cauliflower.
Bordeaux and Easter Lamb
Bordeaux and Lamb is the holy grail of food and wine pairings. The cherry, cassis and spice flavours merge well with Lamb’s mild gamey quality. The earthiness of the Bordeaux will also match nicely with the root vegetables such as parsnips, potatoes and turnips that may accompany a Lamb roast.
Keep the Bordeaux away from Turkey and Salmon as the wine is a little too heavy for these two types of meat. Instead, stick with a Pinot Noir, or Beaujolais. Regarding Baked Ham and Roast Beef, Bordeaux makes for a legendary pairing.
Shiraz and Easter Lamb Paring
You can’t go wrong with an Australian Shiraz either (The Aussie’s are pros at pairing their wine’s with Lamb given their high Sheep population) Pick out a bottle that has plump fruit, decent tannin, and a long finish. After one sip you’ll taste the flavours just melting into one another.
I’d keep Shiraz away from the Turkey and the Salmon as I find the wine would be too heavy for these lighter meats. As for Beef and Ham, though, Shiraz will make for a great pairing. The jamminess of the wine is a beautiful foil when pitted against the meaty nature of these two rich types of meat. Shiraz also has a wonderful black pepper quality that imparts additional flavours upon this already winning combination of meat and wine.
Riesling and Salmon Pairing
If you are having Easter Brunch, Salmon is a common dish to be found, and an Alsatian Riesling is a fabulous choice. Alsatian Rieslings are dry and have a high acidity which cuts through the richness of the fish. It’s also a fruity wine, often with green apple and mixed citrus notes making it perfect for enhancing the Salmon’s flavour.
I can’t say that Riesling will be excellent with Lamb or Beef, but again, if your guests refuse to drink red wine, that’s their loss. When pitted against Lamb or beef, Riesling won’t taste offensive, and it’ll remain refreshing.
Riesling will shine with both Turkey and Easter Ham. With Turkey, Riesling’s electric acidity will enliven those subtle turkey flavours we all love. With Ham, a snappy glass of dry Riesling will taste even more spectacular with Ham’s salt content. Meanwhile, the refreshing citrus flavours of Riesling will come off as incredibly pleasant against the smokey and saltiness of this slightly sweet meat.
Riesling will also excel when paired with familiar Easter side dishes like mashed potatoes, cheesy Cauliflower or broccoli, peas and carrots, stuffing, baked squash, potato salad, coleslaw, and garden salads.
Easter Brunch and Rosé Wine Pairing
Finally, if you’re hosting or heading out to a Brunch, chances are it could be a mix of breakfast items, and the main course. In this situation, we’d skip the red and white wine go straight to an elegant and fruity dry Rosé. Not only will a dry Rosé complement the ham’s lighter tones, but the fruity notes of the wine will be quite refreshing for the saltiness of the ham, and other brunch items (like sausage links, scrambled eggs and bacon).
If you insist on a glass of red or white, my picks would be a fun and fruity Beaujolais, or a crisp Riesling. Both wines have enough acidity to cut through all the sugar, salt, fat and starch that accompany a ‘healthy’ brunch.
Sparkling wine is another excellent choice, alone or as a Mimosa. If the brunch is heavy on the breakfast foods, go for a Mimosa by combining 1/2 Orange Juice and 1/2 Sparkling Wine in a champagne flute to provide a sweet Easter treat.