10 Easter Wine Pairings Made Easy
With Easter coming on Sunday, we’re looking out for you (and your guests). We tapped an expert sommelier, André Compeyre, beverage director at The Regency Bar & Grill in New York City, for simple wine-pairing tips for 10 traditional holiday dishes.
“Easter, for me, represents a family celebration,” says Compeyre. “In pairing with some very traditional dishes, my approach was to find friendly, accessible and reasonable wines—wines that you don’t need a Ph.D to understand and appreciate.”
In the spirit of keeping your Easter feast relaxed, you’ll find a tried-and-true rack of lamb recipe from The Regency, plus pointers on what to drink with all that chocolate in your basket.
Perfect Pour: Cabernet Sauvignon
“Roasted or grilled, I like my lamb with a rich Cab, like Beaulieu Vineyard’s 2011 Cabernet from Rutherford, California, unless you can get your hands on some Herb Lamb Vineyards [from St. Helena],” says Compeyre. “Lamb is strong in flavor and supports tannic, full-bodied red wines. Whether it is a mild spring day or a little bit chilly, Cabernet Sauvignon is a great option.”
Bonus Recipe: Grilled lamb loin with peas, fava beans and spring potatoes
Recipe courtesy Brian Kevorkian, executive chef, The Regency Bar & Grill, New York City
2 lamb loins, bones removed
1 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
3 garlic cloves, crushed, plus 2 tablespoons sliced
1 tablespoon juniper berries
3 thyme sprigs
1 teaspoon peppercorns
3 cups fresh-shelled English peas, divided
2 cups fava beans
2 pounds spring potatoes, cut in half
4 tablespoons sliced shallots
Pinch of salt
Pinch of pepper
½ cup lamb jus
1 tablespoon chopped mint
In plastic bag, combine lamb loins with ½ cup olive oil, crushed garlic, juniper berries, thyme sprigs and peppercorns. Remove as much air as possible from bag and seal. Marinate for 4 hours in refrigerator.
In large pot of salted boiling water, blanch 1½ cups of English peas until very tender. Shock in ice-water bath, and set aside. Repeat with remaining English peas, but keep this batch a bit firmer.
In same pot, blanch fava beans for 1 minute, then shock in ice water. Once cold, peel outer shell from fava beans and discard.
In a food processor, lightly blend first batch of tender-cooked peas. Stop before peas reach smooth consistency. Set aside.
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In large sauté pan over medium-high heat, pour thin layer of olive oil. Once pan is hot, place potatoes flesh side down to sear, then place pan in oven for 10 minutes. Add sliced garlic and shallots to potatoes, and season with salt and pepper. Cook in oven for approximately 10 more minutes, or until potatoes are golden brown and tender. Remove from pan, and set aside.
Add remaining olive oil to sauté pan. Remove lamb from marinade. Grill 4 minutes on each side, until medium-rare. Remove lamb from pan and let rest, reserving jus.
While lamb rests, warm pea purée in a medium-sized saucepot over medium heat, stirring in remaining English peas and fava beans until mixture is warm. Add chopped mint.
To finish: Spoon pea-fava bean mixture onto each plate, then add potatoes. Slice lamb loins and fan over each plate. Drizzle with lamb jus. Serves 4.
Perfect Pour: Pinot Noir
“This calls for a Pinot,” says Compeyre. “Glazed ham is synonymous with sweet-and-sour flavors, and I love a red wine with low tannins and high acid. I would pour Walt’s 2013 La Brisa Pinot Noir from Sonoma County to match this dish. It has cherry fruit on the nose, a little spice on the palate and will leave liberty for whatever garnish you offer.”
Perfect Pour: Lighter reds or Chardonnay
“A lighter style of red wine could be appropriate, like Gamay, but a great white wine would be nice, too,” says Compeyre. “I have discovered [The Vineyard at Strawberry Ridge’s] 2013 Ascot Reserve Chardonnay from Litchfield County in Connecticut that has the perfect balance of toasty notes and crisp freshness. It’s a very good example of a U.S. Chardonnay from the ever-growing East Coast region.”
Perfect pour: Clean, crisp white wines
“A few clean white grape [varieties] come to mind: Verdicchio, Rolle [Vermentino], Albariño and Grüner Veltliner,” says Compeyre. “I also recommend the zesty, tangerine and exotic notes of Vinakoper’s 2013 Purissima Malvazija from the Koper region in Slovenia.”
Perfect pour: Assyrtiko
“On my first trip to Greece, I discovered a magical grape on an even more magical little island: Santorini,” says Compeyre. “Assyrtiko is its name, and I fell in love with this bright, crisp, mineral juice made by the maestro, Paris Sigalas. This wine will do well for all salads you may serve, but with a simple, light lemon vinaigrette, it will bring you to paradise.”
Perfect pour: Dry rosé or red, depending on preparation
“With a potato salad, I could be tempted by a dry rosé wine,” says Compeyre. “I start salivating just thinking of opening the 2013 Whispering Angel from Domaines Sacha Lichine Château d’Esclans in Provence.”
But if you find a savory potato side dish enhanced by meat, pop open a red.
“In Toulouse, you will find potatoes served with a delicious pork sausage,” says Compeyre. “For this, you need to find a Négrette grape or a Malbec, and if you can’t find a Cahors, the Terrazas de los Andes from Argentina is worth trying.”
Perfect Pour: Byrrh Grand Quinquina
“This wine-based apéritif flavored with quinquina (or quinine) was originally produced in the village of Thuir in Roussillon [France],” says Compeyre. “Fortified, but only 18 percent abv, it is lighter than Port. The sweetness is balanced with the bitterness and works like magic with all chocolate preparations I have tried it with.”
Perfect pour: Muscat
“A brand-new Muscat was released by Channing Daughters Winery in the North Fork of Long Island,” says Compeyre. “The 2014 Muscat di Boom is a firework of citrus, lime, kumquats, confit of orange zest and green pineapple. The richness on the palate, with its vibrant acidity, will lift and support the lemon creaminess.”
Perfect pour: Sauternes
“Sometimes it is O.K. to be very classic,” says Compeyre. “Sauternes is the most well-known sweet wine, and the exotic flavors of coconut, mango and ripe pineapple of the Château les Justices’ 2008 Sauternes will deliver the pleasure you will look for in devouring this pie.”
- 1Easter Plate: Rack of Lamb
- 2Easter Plate: Glazed Ham
- 3Easter Plate: Roast Chicken
- 4Easter Plate: Roasted Veggies (like Carrots, Beets and Sweet Onions)
- 5Easter Plate: Fresh Green Salad
- 6Easter Plate: Mashed Potatoes, Potato Salad or a potato-based side dish
- 7Easter Plate: Fresh Peas with Mint
- 8Easter plate: Easter Chocolate (let’s get real, you’ll probably have a bunch of bunnies on hand)
- 9Easter plate: Lemon Tart or Lemon Meringue Pie
- 10Easter Plate: Coconut Cream Pie