With its tasty lamb and cornucopia of spring produce, Easter is a holiday when pretty much anything goes, wine-wise. The rich, fruit-packed reds that paired so well with your winter holiday lamb are certainly worthy of a reappearance; or, do as they do in countries surrounding the Mediterranean (home to some of the world’s oldest Easter traditions) and go for higher-acid, medium-alcohol reds like Chianti. Delightful-with-lamb whites like Chardonnay, that make the perfect refreshment on a warm spring day, are also worth keeping in your differential.
Regardless of which style you choose, offering one red and one white is a surefire way to satisfy your Easter crowd. Here’s how to make it work:
If your guests will be drinking both wine styles, it’s always good to choose a red and a white from the same region.They won’t taste the same, of course, but other characteristics like fruit ripeness and alcohol (that tend to be influenced by a region’s climate and geography) are likely to be in balance.
Which Comes First?
White wines are usually served before reds, as classy aperitifs or refreshing meal starters. Whites-before-reds isn’t an absolute…but if you go there, you may find that the tannin in some red wines (especially Old World reds like Bordeaux) adds a sharp, astringent edge to the whites.
Serve Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc and other lighter whites icy cold. Chill Chardonnay and fuller-bodied whites in the fridge for about 30 minutes (ice bucket optional after that). Give delicate reds like Pinot Noir about 10–15 minutes in the fridge. Finally, keep fuller-bodied reds like Cabernet at room temperature, unless your room is very warm (say, above 72°F). At that point, you might want a few minutes of chill time, as “room temperature” is considered to be around 60°F.
From your grandfather’s homemade jug wine to that 1982 Margaux in your cellar, there’s a glass out there for nearly every wine. What most drinkers really need: good all-purpose red and white glasses. Ideal red glasses have a shorter stem with a wide bowl, designed to increase the surface area of the wine (and unleash complex aromas and flavors). White wines benefit from glasses with a narrow bowl and opening, a means of keeping the wine cool and drawing their fragrant aromas upward.
Typically intended for reds, decanting (pouring your wine into a glass pitcher or jug) is a great way to maximize enjoyment. Again, the idea is to increase wine surface area. If time allows, give your wine an hour or so to breathe (tip: if you’re roasting lamb, pour the wine in the decanter when the meat goes into the oven). In a rush? Try “splash decanting”—pour the wine back and forth a few times between two vessels. Decanter-less? Mimic the process by filling your red wine glasses halfway about 20 minutes before dinner. Have everyone give their glass a good swirl before trying the wine, and you should be good to go!