If you’re having difficulty making an Easter dinner reservation, here are your options: First, go to the over-priced hotel buffet; second, try to walk into your neighborhood breakfast spot and wait for two hours; or finally, make your own Easter dinner.
If you are making your own dinner, a common question is what wine to serve.
When pairing wines with your meal, you want to pair with the main course. Traditionally, the main focus of Easter dinner is ham or lamb, so let’s start with ham.
Often, ham is prepared with glazes or toppings that are sweet to balance the saltiness of the pork. (This conjures up memories of sitting at Grandma’s dinner table, marveling at a ham studded with pineapple slices and maraschino cherries). Well-paired wines can accomplish the same objective. For ham, the best companion wines are white.
I suggest Grüner Veltliner, an Austrian varietal with citrus and peach flavors, combined with spicy notes of pepper and sometimes tobacco. Grüner is becoming very popular. If you’re into wine, you’ve probably heard about it by now, and if you haven’t, it may become one of your new favorites. (But it’s more fun to drink when you pronounce it with an Austrian accent, as my wife insists on doing: “GROOO-ner Velt-LEEEEE-ner!”).
It pairs well with foods that are difficult to pair and is very appealing to all palates, even those who think they don’t like white wine. Try Winzer Krems Grüner Veltliner, available at Total Wine & More for $9.99.
Now on to my favorite meat: lamb. Whether a rack, roast, chops or shank, red wines with bold tannin structure, good fruit and acidity with a long finish bring out the flavors of lamb.
A couple of my favorite red wine varietals are Grenache and Syrah. Both of these grapes originated in the south of France. Syrah’s characters can range from violets and blackberries to leather and pepper with hints of truffle. You will probably notice berry fruits like raspberries and strawberries in Grenache, and sometimes intense notes of black olive, coffee and roasted nuts or honey.
Try Bridgman Syrah, from Columbia Valley, Wash., or Rancho Rossa Grenache, from Sonoita, both available at Total Wine & More for $13.99.
Easter dinner should be a celebratory occasion, and what better way to celebrate than with family, friends and good wine ... especially if you gave up wine for Lent!
• Robert Morris is owner and manager at East Valley restaurants Cork, BLD and Stax Burger Bistro. Reach him at (480) 883-3773 or CorkRestaurant.net.