The Essential Easter Food and Wine Pairing Guide
Love an Easter feast? Then get your appetite ready for our essential guide to food and wine matching for this unique holiday season!
We’re covering pretty much everything here, from the delicious treats left by our friend the Easter bunny to the classic fare that graces the family table this time of year.
Let’s hop in and begin with the most important thing…
EASTER CHOCOLATE AND WINE PAIRING
Simply put, chocolate is delicious; wine is delicious; eating chocolate while drinking wine is doubly delicious.
Matching wine with chocolate is all about balance. While there are several factors to consider, finding the right balance needn’t be complicated; simply look at the most obvious characters of both the wine and the chocolate – are they rich, light, full-flavoured, bitter, dry or sweet? Here’s a brief overview to help you find your new favourite matches.
Dark chocolates with 70% to 100% cacao are the most intense. They are richly flavoured and feature a combination of roasted, fruity, earthy, woody, ashy or nutty notes. Wines that are good matches to bittersweet styles will also match with semisweet chocolate.
With intense flavours, dark and bittersweet chocolates usually call for bolder, denser and fuller-bodied red wines that have more concentrated fruit notes. They’re also delicious served with a vintage Tawny Port.
Cabernet Sauvignon and dark chocolate usually work well together, and if there was to be one generic chocolate and wine suggestion, it would be this one. Because Cabernet Sauvignon is generally full-bodied, it needs to be matched with intense flavours, so turning up the cocoa content in the chocolate is key.
The fruit intensity and medium to full bodied nature of Shiraz make for a rich and mouth-filling combination. The key is starting with a chocolate with over 50% cocoa content and matching the general fruit flavours of the wine to a complementary chocolate flavour.
Grenache matches well with heavier chocolates as it has good sweet fruit weight which can balance out the bitterness of dark chocolate.
Suggested varietal matches: Cabernet Sauvignon, Grenache, Malbec, Merlot, Tawny Port, Shiraz, and Zinfandel
Milk chocolate has a smaller percentage of cacao and a higher percentage of sugar. This factor, plus the milk content means it’s milder, and sweeter with flavours including brown sugar, cocoa, vanilla, honey, caramel, milk, cream, nutty and/or malt.
Milk chocolate pairs nicely with lighter, fruiter and lower alcohol reds or try a fortified wine such as Muscat or Tokay – its butterscotch, toffee and nutty nuances highlight milk chocolate’s nutty and caramel notes and enhance the overall flavour. If you’re partial to aged Sparkling reds, their complex savoury characters make them perfect for desserts and flavoured chocolates.
Suggested varietal matches: Muscat or Tokay, and aged Sparkling reds.
Even though it is referred to as white chocolate, this style technically isn’t a true chocolate as it doesn’t include cocoa, but cocoa butter, sugar and milk solids. Its sweet flavours of cream, milk, honey, vanilla, caramel or fruit makes it quite a versatile pair with wine.
A delicious match is Australian Moscato which tend to be light aromatic and fruity and often have a slight spritz that lifts and refreshes the palate. The apricot, stonefruit and lychee flavours lend them to finer lighter chocolate, white chocolate and mousses. Late-harvest Riesling has an exotic sweetness that complements the vanilla, caramel and honey flavours of white chocolate, while Gewürztraminer has a slight sweetness plus typical lychee fruit that also makes it a favourite.
Suggested varietal matches: Semi-dry Sparkling whites, Gewürztraminer, Moscato, and Late-harvest Riesling.
EXPLORE, DISCOVER and DELIGHT!
As each and every one of us has a unique palate, likes and dislikes, the only proven way to find your favourite chocolate and wine match is to experiment… and we all know what a tough job that will be!
How about sea salt caramel with Prosecco, dark raspberry with a Cabernet Sauvignon, dark orange with a Botrytis Semillon, or dark chilli with a Cabernet Merlot? Treat it like your very own Easter egg hunt and get exploring…
EXTRA EASTER CHOCOLATE INDULGENCE
If you’re looking to indulge someone special, score some brownie points (par the pun) or just want to treat yourself to some homemade chocolatey goodness, why not try out a few Selector recipes, like Lyndey Milan's chocolate and raspberry brownies, this classic Chocolate Parfait recipe, a simple chocolate sour cream cake with coffee and spiced dates recipe or a chocolate fondant with mandarin and ice-cream?
EASTER FEAST FOOD AND WINE PAIRING
When the table is laden with all manner of delicious food, it’s only right that you have some equally delicious Australian wines to accompany it all. We turned to Wine Selectors panellist Adam Walls, fresh from shooting on Ten’s My Market Kitchen with chef Ben O’Donoghue, for some divine pairings.
HOT CROSS BUNS
Many would argue – Adam included – that hot cross buns are the highlight of Easter. These spice-filled buns with their gentle sweetness pair superbly well with some of Australia’s most unique wines. “Australian fortified wines like liqueur Muscat and Topaque have the flavour weight, exotic spice and sweetness needed to match those of hot cross buns,” says Adam. He recommends more elegant Topaque with plain and fruit hot cross buns, and the richer Muscat style for chocolate ones.
The prospect of lamb for Easter has Adam waxing lyrical. “Sonny and Cher, Torvill and Dean, Winnie the Pooh and Piglet… some partnerships are meant to be,” he says about the pairing of lamb and Cabernet Sauvignon. The secret is the tannin in the Cabernet, and the fat levels you find in lamb – the tannins help cut through the fat in the protein, making tannic wines and meat-based fat the perfect companions. “The fat also helps soften the grip of the tannins, but if you’re not a fan of Cabernet, you can try Tempranillo, Malbec or even Shiraz.”
FISH & CHIPS
The quintessential Good Friday meal. “Like the lemon you squeeze over your fish, you want a wine with high levels of acidity,” says Adam. “The acidity helps cut through the fat and the richness of the fish.” If white wine is your preference look for unoaked examples of Riesling, Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blends or Vermentino. If reds are your thing, opt for lighter, fresher styles of Pinot Noir, Grenache and Barbera.
“The candy of the oceans!” proclaims Adam. “Prawns match with a myriad of different wine styles and varieties, but their sweet and delicate flavour will be overpowered by rich and heavy wines, so keep that in mind.” Sparkling wines and Rosé are great with prawns, as are aromatic white wines like Riesling, Semillon – particularly Hunter Valley Semillon – and Sauvignon Blanc. “For a little extra indulgence, try a modern Chardonnay,” Adam says. “The background oak works superbly with prawns!”
Easter sees Cauliflower at their peak and they offer a never-ending array of cooking possibilities. “How you choose to prepare your cauliflower will dictate what wine suits best,” Adam observes. “For whole-roasted cauliflower, look for richer white wines such as Chardonnay, Viognier, or oaked Sauvignon Blanc(Fumé Blanc).” Cauliflower served with a cheese sauce meanwhile needs a white wine with higher levels or acidity, to help cut through the richness of the cheese. “Look for lightly oaked Chardonnay, Pinot G, Sauvignon Blanc Semillon blends or even a Rosé.” Something more exotic, like cauliflower curries, are best served with Pinot G, Riesling or Gewürztraminer.
Autumn is the season for mushrooms, presenting a superb opportunity to raid your cellar for medium weight and savoury reds. “Pinot Noir is a fantastic match,” says Adam, “but don’t discount Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese or Mourvèdre.” These varieties have an underlying earthy nature that offers a natural pairing with the earthiness of the mushrooms, regardless of how they’re prepared.
There you have it! Marvellous food and wine matches for a magical time of year, no matter what your taste. And from everyone here at Wine Selectors, have a safe and happy Easter!