The Drinks Blogger NI

Wines for Easter

By Ciaran Meyler, wine manager, United Wines

Wines for Easter

Easter Sunday, a time to reflect and a time to gather with family and friends to share a special meal and a good bottle of wine.  Maybe it’s just a country thing but in Omagh we always had a big Easter Sunday meal equal to that of Christmas Day. It doesn’t seem the same anymore, everyone is far too busy jetting off to their holiday home in Spain or heading to Donegal. So this Easter take the time to link up with family and friends and share a bottle of wine.

Did you know that wine is mentioned 521 times in the Bible? So it must be good for you.

Well now that we know the Good Lord intended us to drink wine we just need to decide which one or ones to choose.

Traditional Easter menus tend to centre around roasts, normally leg of spring lamb (buy local, don’t be going for any of that New Zealand stuff), but sometimes chicken or beef are preferred. Not forgetting the huge amount of vegetarians out there – I’ve also got some good   pairings for a Mushroom Wellington. Begging the question, “Which wine goes best with what?” We’ll start with the lamb.

Wines for Roast Lamb
For me it’s got to be the leg (yes I’m a leg man), stab it with your knife to make a little incision and stuff with garlic, rosemary and mint. High heat to start, then slow roast (I’m making myself hungry) for about two hours until it’s just falling off the bone.

Whilst wine is a very personal thing and I would never try to force my opinion onto anyone; however, you can only drink Cabernet Sauvignon with roast lamb. It’s not just because it’s my favourite grape, it’s because it works. You are looking for red wines with decent tannin structure, big fruit concentration, minty herbaceous flavours and a finish that can endure as long as the lamb itself. The goal is to have a wine with enough fruit and acidity to handle the robust flavours of the lamb, but not overpower it in the process.

The best ones are Santa Rita Medalla Real Cabernet Sauvignon. This multi-award-winning wine from Chile delivers exceptional value compared with Bordeaux. You could also try The Founder’s Series Cabernet Sauvignon from Australia, one of Neil McGuigan’s finest reds from Coonawarra (the home of great Aussie Cabernet).

If you prefer old world wines, you could seek out a good value Red Bordeaux Le Grand Chapelain Bordeaux Rouge or quality value Rioja like Marques de Caceres Crianza.

Wines for Roast Chicken
The old favourite roast chicken is fairly simple to make and fairly simple to match up with wine. When roasted, it tends to be quite dry, so the best thing to do is use a wee bit of the wine for the gravy. Swirl out the roasting tray with the wine burning off most of the alcohol. You’ll need a big full bodied tropical Chardonnay, bursting with melons, bananas and mangos. Lightly oaked is best to give an extra complexity to the wine. If you’re a traditionalist, try the beautiful delicate Macon Lugny (White Burgundy) from the family-owned Ropiteau estate.

If you prefer the big full on fresh fruit salad, it’s got to be Indomita Gran Reserva Casablanca Valley Chardonnay. If you need a red fix on Sunday, the best for roast chicken is Pinot Noir. The Crossings Marlborough Pinot Noir or Ropiteau Les Plants Noble Pinot Noir will delivery silky smooth crushed raspberry and cherry fruits, divine!

Wines for Roast Beef
Good old local-reared Northern Irish beef with all the trimming, Yorkshire puds, spuds and our locally-grown cabbage, carrot and parsnips mash (keep it local, anyway you probably won’t be able to get any from mainland Europe as Brexit will have been implemented by the time this is published) with rich red wine and wild mushroom gravy. I can feel an afternoon nap coming on just writing about it.

What to drink? So much choice with beef, if you prefer a peppered sauce, you could go for spicy Tempus Two Shiraz from Australia. Merlot is superb with its plumy earthy aromas. Tempranillo can do the trick with the oaky vanilla and jammy red berry fruits. Marques de la Concordia Tempranillo is a fantastic pair with beef. Then again you could drink Cabernet Sauvignon? You can’t go wrong with a bottle of Santa Rita 120 Cabernet Sauvignon.

Veggie Surprise
As mentioned earlier, a growing number of people are choosing to eat less and less meat. Our eldest daughter is now a full on veggie. I got her a T-shirt recently ‘Living Life on The Veg’. As a result, we’ll probably have three to four meat-free meals a week in our house. So we can now call ourselves flexitarians. You have to be very creative. However, if using the right herbs and spices, the results are excellent. The best dish to date has been Mushroom Wellington, big Portobello mushrooms wrapped in spinach and the filo pastry and served with a selection of root veg and spuds swimming in loads of red onion gravy. Try this with a bottle of earthy Cotes du Rhone from E Guigal.

Whatever you go for, remember two things, enjoy in moderation and enjoy with good friends.

Quote of the month
“A good wine begs to be shared.”

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