The Easter break is a golden ticket to crack open some good wines, says Sam Wylie-Harris.
If you’re planning to make the most of this veritable feast and the Easter table is chock-full of goodies, the secret is not to put all your eggs in one basket, so to speak.
Having a variety of wines to match the myriad mouth-watering flavours adds to the sense of occasion and ensures every dish is well complemented.
You don’t need to spend a fortune though – simply focus on the main-event meals and you’re bound to find an ideal partner in the supermarket drinks aisles. From a casual Good Friday fish supper, to a Sunday roast of spring lamb or ham – and of course, all those Easter eggs and treats in-between – here are nine top drops to make everybody a happy bunny…
Fish on Good Friday
1. Elegant Frog Viognier 2018, AOP Languedoc, France (£8, Sainsbury’s)
Viognier is becoming increasingly fashionable, and this rich white has seductive aromas of peach, apricots and sweet blossom, with concentrated flavours of peach and honeysuckle enhanced by light oak, which gives a satisfying weight to the wine, yet freshness weaves throughout. A star match with anything in a creamy sauce, or rich shellfish such as seared scallops, crab or lobster.
2. Journey’s End Honeycombe Chardonnay 2018, South Africa (£10, Marks & Spencer stores)
A ripe and creamy chardonnay with lots of spring-has-sprung freshness, the aromatic bouquet vies for attention with its array of vanilla rich tropical fruits and the wine offers tiers of ripe apples, juicy peach, honeydew and exotic tropical fruits. Toasty oak adds allure and texture and it ends with a long, fresh finish. Delicious with a gourmet fish pie and surprisingly good with sweet and nutty cheeses. Alternatively, M&S suggest paring it with their new Golden Hot Cross Buns.
3. Sainsbury’s TTD Cremant de Loire, France (currently reduced to £9 from £11.50, Sainsbury’s)
If you want to kick the weekend off with a stylish food-friendly fizz, this Loire Valley perennial from one of the best producers in the region is perfect with shellfish, with its clean, fresh citrus fruits accented by light, floral scents. Best of all, it’s also available in magnum (1.5 litres) if you’re hosting family and friends.
4. Jim Barry Silly Mid On Sauvignon Blanc and Semillon 2016, Clare Valley, Australia (£13.99, Laithwaite’s)
Otherwise, if you really want to put the wind in your sails, this top-notch, crisp Aussie white has a piercing freshness with citrus fruits in spades. There’s a fine balance between the passion fruit, lychee and hints of freshly-cut grass, underpinned with a creamy edge and fresh acidity driving the zesty, limey finish. Terrific with shellfish, but has the tenacity to temper the sweet-and-salty flavours of Easter ham.
5. Climbing Shiraz 2016 Orange, New South Wales, Australia (£9.99, Waitrose)
Soft, smooth and fruit-forward, this sun-kissed shiraz has all the juicy, plummy goodness you could hope for, with moreish, spicy, chocolately undertones framing generous layers of dark cherry and blackberry fruits. A joy to drink with glazed ham or duck with a rich, fruity sauce, it also makes a striking match with a slice of chocolate cake.
6. El Bombero 2018, Cariñena DO, Spain (£9.99, Laithwaite’s)
A little Spanish gem, this gorgeous garnacha is a real crowd-pleaser, with its opulent, intensely fruity forest fruits laced with kirsch and sweet spice. Sumptuous and mouth-filling, it’s a hugely concentrated fruit bomb that’s dangerously easy to drink at 15% abv. Serve with spring lamb, lamb cutlets and pretty much anything else if you’re throwing a fuss-free, laid-back lunch.
7. Lirac Les Closiers, 2017, Rhône, France (£10.50, Marks & Spencer stores)
Another contender for time-honoured Easter fare, this fabulous southern Rhône red is the closest thing to a top flight Châteauneuf-du-Pape (its closest neighbour) without the pricey tag. Hailing from Lirac, one of the region’s top appellations and a classic blend of grenache, syrah, mouvedre and cinsault, it’s a perfect parcel of ripe blackberry fruit with, earthy, herbal highlights and notes of spice. A triumph with herb crusted roast lamb.
8. Bird in Hand Cabernet Sauvignon 2016, Adelaide Hills, Australia (£19, Frontier Wines)
Want to really push the boat out, fire up the grill and brave the BBQ this Easter? Then this is the red to get the juices flowing. Cab sav lovers will adore this rich, powerful expression that’s crammed with intense aromas and flavours of cassis, plums, cedar and violet. And while there’s a rich, vanilla presence (the wine spends 18 months in French oak), it’s beautifully balanced with a backbone of long silky tannins. Stunning.
9. Lustau East India Solera Rich Oloroso, Spain (£11.29, Waitrose)
Serve this deep mahogany beauty lightly chilled, to savour its tantalising medley of figs, sultanas, raisins and prunes. Lusciously sweet, it’s a blend of an aged dry Oloroso and aged sweet Pedro Ximenez, made from sun-dried grapes. Yummy, and a dream ticket with simnel cake and milk chocolate eggs.