Peter Gatti back with this week’s Italian Installment, but this time, let’s talk about wine for Easter dinner.
Easter can be a little complicated for wine; like so many big holiday feasts, the combination of many different foods and many different personalities can be a little chaotic. So let’s talk about some tried and true traditional pairings so we don’t upset Great-Aunt Sally, but also push the envelope a little for the more adventurous guests, too.
Lamb is customary, and it’s hard to beat a Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot based red to pair, possibly something like Monteti’s I Giganti Buoni blend, Argentiera’s Poggio ai Ginepri, or even Tenuta San Guido’s Le Difese blend (from the Sassicaia folks) for something a bit more upscale. However, if we get a little edgy, how about Italy’s Zinfandel, known there as Primitivo? Ink Monster is everything you like about California Zin with an added Italian herby twist. Or perhaps the Sorrentino Aglianico, a baby brother style to Taurasi-rich, complex and warm.
Ham is more fun to work with, because so many wines work well depending on the glazes or rubs (or not) that you use. Pinot Noir and Chardonnay and Gewürztraminer are the default choices here, and all work nicely with different recipes, but let’s experiment a little, yes? How about Moris Farms Vermentino, a crisp, bright, full white with a touch of Viognier for aromatics? Or Andrea Felici’s Verdicchio a superb firm white from a top producer? Cascina Liuzzi makes a lovely smooth mid-weight Barbera that’ll even take a chill. Really far out? Try the Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco; so delicious!
If poultry centers the meal, Natale Verga’s Sauvignon Blanc or Italo Cescon’s Chardonnay are solid, established wine pairings, but why not try Maculan’s Pino y Toi blend from Friuli or Sorrentino Falanghina, Campania’s great white grape? If red’s your preference, why not Moris Farm’s Mandriolo Red blend, or Natale Verga’s Chianti Classico, both from Tuscany and Sangiovese based?
If you decide on vegetarian, I’d probably go with medium weight reds such as the Antale Veneto Rosso, Antale Salento Rosso, or Il Roccolo Nero D’Avola. For whites, any of the above mentioned wines, but also consider the Il Roccolo Chardonnay frizzante, a delicate, frothy flirty-fun take on Chardonnay.
For dessert, Moscato D’Asti is hard to beat for its joyous, fizzy, fruity, perfumed, succulent, juicy exuberance, so try the Natale Verga or Vietti versions, both excellent. Brachetto is a pink/light red variant that seems like a pink version with added red and black berry notes, but my favorite version is called Dolcelina, it uses Freisa and Malvasia as well as Brachetto grapes, and it’s drop-dead gorgeous.
If there’s chocolate on the dessert menu, I’m going to really go out on a limb here: try an Amaro! Really. Cocchi’s Americano is really out of this world, and if you can find it, try the Byrrh Amaro-oh, my!