When it comes to pairing wine with Easter dinner, it’s not as simple as red or white. Many people believe you pair a red wine with red meat, and a white wine with white meat. Although that is true in some cases, we would recommend focusing on how you prepare your meal, and balancing your palate. The cut of the meat, the spices and sauces you cook it with, and how the meat is cooked are really what you’re pairing your wine to. If you are serving lamb or ham this Easter, here are some of our suggested wine pairings. Remember, balance is key and how you prepare your meat will determine what you pair it with.
Leg of Lamb: Normally, a leg of lamb is oven-roasted with heavy spices. If your spice of choice is garlic, we suggest a Shiraz or Malbec. Both are full-bodied wines that feature some fruity undertones, which will balance the garlic flavour while complementing the juiciness of the lamb. If your spice of choice is rosemary, pair your meal with an oaky Cabernet Sauvignon. When choosing a Cabernet, know that the lower end Cabs often feature little to no oak, so reach for a mid-high end Cabernet to ensure you get that high oak flavour. If you prepare your leg of lamb with a sweet sauce like the traditional mint jelly, we would again suggest a heavier red wine such as a Cabernet or a Shiraz. A classic Australian Cabernet often has delicately minty eucalyptus notes which pairs beautifully with roast lamb. Yum!
Lamb Chops: Generally, lamb chops are prepared with spices so we would pair the dish with a stronger, full-bodied red. A Cabernet or Petit Syrah – both high in tannins would pair nicely with lamb chops. The tannins will help cut the thickness of the meat and the strong taste of the lamb. The berry or plum notes in these drier reds will also enhance the juiciness of the meat, while the natural spice flavours in the wine will enhance the spice of the dish. You could also pair a sweeter lamb chop dish - made with a fig sauce, for example - with a fruity Pinot Noir or Merlot.
The most traditional way to prepare a ham dinner on Easter is to bake or oven roast it with ham or pineapple.
Honey Ham: We suggest pairing a honey ham with a fruitier white wine like Pinot Grigio or a semi-dry Riesling. The fruit in the wine will enhance the sweet taste of the honey. It is important to choose wine with fruitier undertones because if not, the sweetness from the honey will make the wine appear more acidic and dry. When choosing a red wine for this dish, a light to medium bodied wine with fruity cherry and berry notes, like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais would also pair well. Whether you lean toward red or white, be sure to choose a lighter wine to keep from overpowering the flavours in your ham.
Ham with Pineapple: Much like the honey ham dish, you will want to choose a light, fruiter wine when preparing ham with pineapple. The perfect complement for this meal would be a soft, fruity white wine like a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc or a light, fruity red like Beaujolais.
Of course, the perfect wine pairing can enhance any meal. Just remember to keep the palate balanced. And as much as we all enjoy a wonderfully paired meal, the best part of any dinner will always be the people you share with. Enjoy!