Today is Easter, and with it a feast that might be better than the one at Thanksgiving, since we’re not limited to turkey. Or to wines that go with the big bird.
First comes Easter brunch, of course. It’s a great time for bubbly. Champagne, sparkling wine, cava, sekt and such are friendly ways to greet your guests. And since it’s spring now, it’s also nice to add some juice, fruit or even veggies and make a bubbly cocktail or punch.
This is limited only by the party-giver’s imagination. Add orange juice and it’s a mimosa, crème de cassis and it’s a kir royale, peach nectar and it’s a bellini, Guinness Stout, for Pete’s sake, and it’s a black velvet.
It goes on. People these days are flavoring sparkling wines with grapefruit juice, pomegranate juice, cranberry juice, lemonade and gin, mint, cucumbers and gin, apple juice, pear juice, mango chunks, bitters. They’re adding every color and flavor of sorbet, creating sophisticated slushies.
If you’re drinking your bubbly straight, you want quality stuff. For some of these punches and cocktails, on the other hand, you’re just as well off with inexpensive sparkling wines, because you’re going to greatly change their body, sweetness and flavor.
It’s just as well. Brunches tend to go heavy on egg dishes – frittatas, omelets, casseroles, quiches – and the egg has always been a tough match for wine, whether it has bubbles or not.
So the flavor-changing might save the day.
Come Easter dinner, however, and the wine-food pairing possibilities explode – ham with rosé, leg of lamb with syrah, roast chicken with chardonnay, whole sides of salmon with pinot noir, roast beef with cabernet sauvignon.
They all mean you can dig through your cellar for your heartiest wines – maybe wines with some age on them.
Here are some possibilities:
• 2013 Bonterra Sauvignon Blanc, Mendocino/Lake counties; crisp, rich, ripe lemon/lime aromas and flavors, sweet finish; $14.
• 2010 Monteverro “Tinata” Syrah/Grenache, IGT Toscana Rosso, Maremma, Tuscany: floral aromas, hearty, complex flavors of black cherries and cinnamon, long finish; $75.
• Nonvintage Schramsberg Mirabelle Brut Rosé, North Coast (55 percent chardonnay, 45 percent pinot noir): rich and creamy, with flavors of tart cherries and citrus, crisp finish; $27.
• Nonvintage Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut Sparkling Wine (91.2 percent pinot noir, 8.6 percent chardonnay): toasty aroma, fine bubbles, full body, with citrus and green apple flavors; $22.
• Nonvintage Chandon Rosé Sparkling Wine, Calif.: (61 percent chardonnay, 39 percent pinot noir): lively bubbles, ripe strawberry and cherry flavors, crisp; $22.
• Nonvintage Garbèl Brut Prosecco DOC, Treviso, Italy (glera grapes): frothy bubbles, ripe apple flavors, very dry, light body; $15.
• Nonvintage Domaine Ste. Michelle Brut Sparkling Wine, Wash.: sweet apple flavors, fairly dry, lots of big bubbles; $12.
• 2012 Clos du Bois Chardonnay, North Coast, Calif.: hint of oak, lemon meringue aromas and flavor, creamy and smooth, long finish; $14.
• 2013 Pedroncelli Dry Rosé of Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley: soft and dry, with aromas and flavors of ripe strawberries and a tart finish; $12.
• 2011 Benziger Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma County: spicy black raspberry aromas and flavors, smooth, ripe tannins, long finish; $20.
• 2012 Viña Concha y Toro “Casillero del Diablo” Reserva Pinot Noir, Casablanca, Chile: sweet cherry and raspberry aromas and flavors, soft and ripe; $12.
Fred Tasker has retired from the Miami Herald but is still writing about wine. He can be reached at email@example.com.