Easter is the ideal time to get together with family and friends to celebrate new beginnings. For children, Easter is a chance to decorate eggs, venture out on an Easter egg hunt, and cherish an Easter basket filled with sweet surprises. As we grow up, Easter becomes more about gathering around the table with loved ones for a great meal with the wines to match. Most Easter meals are centered around oven-roasted ham, chicken, or lamb alongside a bounty of spring vegetable and potato dishes. So, here are eight Easter wines that will pair beautifully with the flavors and festive spirit of the occasion.
Sparkling Wines for Easter
Let’s be honest, no celebration is complete without a bottle of bubbly. While Champagne would definitely get the job done, why not venture off the beaten path to an Italian wine region making world class sparkling wines?
Franciacorta is located in the Northern Italian region of Lombardy. This small wine producing area is known for its sparkling wines made in the traditional method, just like Champagne. Chardonnay, Pinot Nero, Pinot Bianco (up to 50%), and a native variety called Erbamat (up to 10%) are blended for Franciacorta production. Depending on the designated style, Franciacorta ages anywhere from 18 months to upwards of 60 months in bottle on the lees. If you’re looking for a more complex sparkling wine full of texture and autolytic character with notes of bread, yeast, or brioche, then look for the Riserva designation.
These Italian sparkling wines are made with different levels of sweetness made possible by the dosage added after the wines are disgorged. Sweeter styles of Franciacorta, such as dry or demi-sec, would be great with dessert. Otherwise, reach for zero dosage, extra brut, or brut styles to enjoy Franciacorta with appetizers or your meal. Expect flavors of lemony citrus, stone fruits, almond, and toast with fresh, crisp acidity and layered texture.
Dare we suggest a red sparkling wine to serve with your Easter meal? Yes, we do! Lambrusco also hails from Northern Italy. Most of the grapes for this unique red bubbly grow in Emilia-Romagna in the areas of Modena, Parma, and Reggio-Emilia. Some of the grapes also come from Mantua located in Lombardy. All of the grapes are different types of Lambrusco varieties, such as Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Salamino, and other Lambrusco subvarieties.
The Northern Italian climate yields grapes which retain concentrated fruit flavors and fresh acidity needed for sparkling wine production. Most Lambrusco wines are lightly sparkling, falling under the frizzante classification in Italian wine regulations. Rather than using the traditional method, Lambrusco is made via the Charmat method. This process involves initiating the secondary fermentation in a pressurized steel tank rather than in bottle.
Ranging from bone dry to sweet, Lambrusco explodes with aromas of strawberries, cherries, violets, blackberry jam, citrus zest, and potting soil. When it comes to Easter wines, Lambrusco pairs well with everything from herb loaded salads to roasted ham and cheesy scalloped potatoes. You’ll be surprised at how much you can enjoy sparkling red wine!
Easter White Wines
Skip the Chardonnay this Easter and reach for Grillo instead. This Italian white grape grows on the island of Sicily. Moreover, Grillo is capable of producing a variety of wine styles, just like Chardonnay. You’ll find lighter, minimal intervention styles with citrus aromas and peach undertones. There’s more aromatic versions grown at higher elevations expressing passion fruit, grapefruit, and herbal qualities. Where winemaking techniques like lees stirring and barrel aging are implemented, Grillo becomes much more complex with flavors of apple, citrus, and a mineral-laden finish.
Grillo is made from a crossing of two other Sicilian varieties: Catarratto and Zibibbo (a.k.a. Moscato di Alessandria). Sicilian growers found it was one grape which grew well in the hot plains near Marsala. Hence, Grillo became a key grape in the production of the famed Marsala wines. Though today, Grillo is making a name for itself in the hands of skillful producers as a high quality Sicilian white wine.
Silvaner is a white German grape which tends to fly under the radar. Yet it’s one of Germany’s oldest grapes and also grows in the neighboring French region of Alsace where it’s called Sylvaner. Production of this elegant white wine began in Franken, Germany with the first written documentation of the grape dating back to 1659. In Germany, the highest concentration of Silvaner is still in Franken. Though the Rheinhessen is the biggest growing area for the grape variety.
Silvaner generally produces full-bodied wines with moderate acidity but explosive aromas and flavors. Delicate florals and notes of melon, yellow plums, and apples nicely complement Easter dishes with fresh herbs and cream.
Rosé Easter Wines
Prosecco is one of Italy’s most beloved sparkling wines. In the second half of 2020, the category received an upgrade with the introduction of Prosecco Rosé! Wine lovers were thrilled and rightfully so. These sparkling wines are affordable and delicious. Plus, who doesn’t love a sparkling rosé?
While Prosecco is made from the Glera grape, Prosecco Rosé takes its pink color from the addition of Pinot Nero. The rosé blend must include at least 85% Glera with up to 15% Pinot Nero. Fermentation for Prosecco Rosé must last for at least 60 days using the Charmat method.
Prosecco Rosé has delicate aromas of red berries, yellow apple, and juicy peach. The palate is smooth and crisp with flavors of strawberry, red apple, and pear. This wine is the ideal match for Easter appetizers, cheese boards, and vegetable dishes.
Fresh, crisp, and with just the right amount of fruitiness, Provençal Rosé never goes out of style. Unsurprisingly, with flavors of red fruit, citrus, dry herbs, and subtle minerality, Provençal Rosé is a mouthwatering match for your Easter meal. There’s a reason this style of rosé has become massively popular around the world. It’s always refreshing with tangy acidity and pairs well with just about everything.
Provençal Rosé is made from a blend of mainly Grenache, Syrah, Cinsault, and sometimes Mourvèdre. These wines are produced under the Côtes de Provence AOC which covers over 20,000 hectares in the south of France. The sunny, hot, dry Mediterranean climate coupled with the moderating influence of the Mediterranean Sea delivers the perfect environment for grapes to develop concentrated flavors for delicious rosé.
The Best Red Wines for Easter
While a flavorful addition to rosé, Cinsault is also a French grape which produces unique single-varietal red wines. Cinsault reds are medium bodied with red fruit flavors of raspberry, red currant, tart cherry, violet, and black or herbal tea. They have medium acidity and low tannins, which makes Cinsault an exceptional wine pairing for countless dishes.
If you’re a fan of red blends from the Southern Rhône, then you’re already familiar with Cinsault. Moreover, old vine Cinsault is capable of producing wines with an irresistibly delicious sweet spice character and an earthy complexity.
When choosing your Easter wines, don’t hesitate to grab a couple bottles of Grenache. This red variety grows in most wine producing countries worldwide. Known as Garnacha in Spain and Cannonau in Sardinia, Grenache grows best in wine regions with a lot of sunshine. Those sunny days develop ripe fruit flavors of strawberry, grilled plum, blood orange, dried herbs, and leather. Grenache wines are typically medium-to-full bodied with medium acidity and tannins. They’re a great match for roasted lamb or ham and most vegetable dishes, too.