Which wines you can pair with your Easter food (yes, even chocolate!)

Are you planning an Easter feast this year? Our wine expert Helena Nicklin (aka Winebird) shares her pick of wines to pair with all your seasonal favourites – including chocolate! 

April! How we have missed you, with your sunshine, spring flowers and fabulous foodie things. As we climb out of the chilly days to embrace the new season, it’s time to celebrate with friends, family and food – and, of course, wine!

If you’re planning a traditional Easter meal, why not add joosh to the experience by getting the wines just right? Here are some ideas about what to pair with some classic Easter fare (not forgetting, of course, those chocolate eggs…).

Eating lamb? Pair it with Pinot Noir

Pinot Noir and lamb is one of the all time classic combinations; as the meat is more earthy and less ‘red’ than beef, it can take a lighter red wine. This is handy as a lot of us do lunch instead of dinner and we don’t all want to be comatose by 4pm.

The thing to remember is that the richer and fruitier the accoutrements, the more ‘new-world’ (anything outside Europe) you can go with the Pinot. This is because the wines tend to be a little bigger and bolder from places like Chile, Australia and New Zealand. The same goes for duck and ham, by the way; Pinot’s your girl!

Here’s a selection of pretty Pinots of varying styles:

  • ‘Old world’: drier, lighter in body and fruit. Try Puy de Dôme Pinot Noir, Cave de Saint Verny 2014, France (£8.49 mix six price, Majestic). It’s elegantly pale and dry with wild strawberry and smoky notes.
  • ‘New world’: fuller-bodied and more fruity. Try Te Haupapa Central Otago Pinot Noir 2016, New Zealand (Aldi, £8.99). Good value, flavoursome Kiwi Pinot with a lovely note of Earl Grey tea!

Fancy bubbles with your lamb? Go for the Greyfriars Rosé Reserve Brut, Waitrose Cellar, £26.99Made with 100% Pinot Noir from fantastic Surrey vineyard Greyfriars, this sophisticated, berry-scented pink will see you through from aperitif to main course.

What to drink with hot cross buns and Simnel cake

Easter is not Easter without at least one of the above, and both have a similar, spiced fruit, cakey appeal.

So what we need here is something to match the warm spice and that won’t be outdone by the (albeit relatively small) amount of sweetness. You’ll also want something you can taste after the Pinot!

Enter, Madeira: a fortified white wine that’s big on spice and nuttiness with enough power and sweetness to cut through without being heavy. It’s a fabulous way to end a meal! Try Blandy’s Duke of Clarence Madeira, NV (Sainsburys £12).

What to consume with your milk chocolate Easter eggs

Here’s the bad news: milk chocolate just doesn’t like regular, dry, still wine that much. Why? Because it strips the fruit out. Some very fruity ‘normal’ wines can occasionally work, but you’ll always be better off with something fortified.

Port is always good bet, but if that’s too much for you, look for a ‘Maury’ from France. Maury wines are made with the softer, Grenache grape and feel less intense than Port while still being full of fruit and sweetness. It’s a great go-to wine for chocolate. Try Domaine Pouderoux Maury Grand Reserve, (Waitrose Cellar £10.99).

What to pair with dark chocolate

Very dark chocolate is probably the one kind of chocolate that can take a still, red wine. Just make sure it’s concentrated, super fruity and intense! The Shiraz grape (aka Syrah) works well here and this is the best wine I’ve found to do the match: Bellingham ‘Bernard Series’ Syrah, 204, South Africa (Sainsbury’s, £13).

And finally, what goes with white Chocolate?

Your wine choice here can have a stunning effect on the flavour of the chocolate itself, usually in a good way!

Make sure the wine is always as sweet or sweeter than the chocolate and play around with flavours. Port can make white chocolate taste like cherries; Moscato brings out floral notes and Sauternes turns it into honey and marmalade! If this all feels a little overwhelming however, then any demi-sec or sweet sparkling wine will work.

Try Asti Spumate, Marks & Spencer £7 (on offer until 24th April!). Made with the Moscato grape, this delicately frothy and floral, sweet white fizz is a winner with white chocolate.

Happy Easter, Talented Ladies! x

Winebird is a freelance writer, presenter and author of VINALOGY: wine basics with a twist! You can follow her on Twitter, and find her on YouTube.