Mar 22 2017

Rejoice: Easter is almost here! Easter is prime time to give thanks for new beginnings, wondrous miracles and springtime’s life-affirming beauty. If you’re hosting this year’s Easter holiday dinner, don’t worry or fuss. Renowned sommelier, foodie and blogger Shawn McCormick will guide and inspire you as you hop down the aisles of your favorite Ontario wine shop. Fill your basket with his suggested wines. Then, head to the market and grab the ingredients you’ll need for an egg-cellent and surprisingly simple entree. Your Easter meal need not be complicated!

1. Sparkling Wine – Charmat Method

The first of Sean’s Easter-worthy wine picks is sparkling wine, which puts the “special” in special occasion. Charmat Method sparklers tend to be more fruit forward than traditional method sparklers. Hints of citrus, melon and apple are reminders that spring’s bounty is near! These wines pair perfectly with just about any appetizer. They’re especially delightful paired with bold flavors such as aged cheddar, parmesan chips and cured meats.

2. Pinot Blanc

Ontario VQA Pinot Blanc is a light, crisp, refreshing alternative to unoaked Chardonnay, dry Riesling, and Pinot Grigio. Pinot blanc usually delivers pure lemon on the finish and pairs well with light, fresh flavors. It’s an ideal accompaniment for your salad course. This recipe is one of Shawn’s favourites, and it’s certain to look and taste fresh and festive on your Easter table.

3. Oaked Chardonnay

Oaked chardonnay provides an ideal transition between winter’s hearty red wines and summer’s light whites. Oaked Chardonnay delivers strong fruit notes reminiscent of apple pie, crème brulée and tropical fruits. It demands to be paired with substantial foods. If you choose a cream-based selection for your soup course, an oaked chardonnay will be an ideal accompaniment.

4. Riesling

Once the appetizer, salad and soup courses are complete, the bold fruit notes of a dry Riesling are the ideal choice to cleanse the palate. Riesling’s hints of honeyed peaches and strong citrus cores is pleasant on its own as your guests savor one another’s company and prepare for the meal’s pièce de résistance.

5. Gamay Noir

With its light to medium body and ripe berry flavours, this varietal boasts easy drinking and easy food-pairing qualities. It complements burgers and lasagna, and sophisticated dishes like nut loaf, duck confit and seared ahi.

6. Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet sauvignon is the big, bold wine you’ll want to accompany hearty dishes like steak, venison or lamb. The meat’s fat and juiciness will cut the wine’s tannins and enhance its sophisticated fruit flavours.

7. Cabernet Franc VQA Icewine

Easter usually means chocolate bunnies and eggs. For the adults, Cabernet franc Icewine pairs well with the milk chocolate found in chocolate bunnies and eggs, or cut the sweetness with a bit of crumbly Ontario blue cheese (if your stomach has room for it!).

BONUS: Our Recipe for Hoppy Easter Ham

Often, hosting an Easter meal means hosting a large group. The less time you spend slaving away in the kitchen, the more you can enjoy your loved ones’ company. This meal is quick, simple, delicious, feeds a crowd and can be prepared hours before your guests arrive.

Shopping List

  • 1 eight to 10-pound (3.5- to 4.5-kg) bone-in ham
  • 4 to 5 cups apple cider
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • Black pepper to taste

Directions (omit steps 1-3 if your ham is pre-cooked.)

  1. Place the ham, fat-side up, in a two-inch-deep pan and score the fat in a diagonal pattern.
  2. Pour two cups apple cider over the ham and tightly cover the pan with foil.
  3. Bake at 300ºF for 2 to 2.5 hours.
  4. To make a glaze, bring one cup of apple cider to a boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the heat and boil lightly until the volume is reduced at least in half.
  5. Add Dijon mustard, ground cloves and black pepper, then simmer until the sauce thickens and is no longer runny. If it gets too thick, add a few drops of apple cider until you achieve the desired consistency.
  6. Remove ham from the oven, remove foil, brush on glaze, and then return to the oven uncovered.
  7. Baste the ham regularly until its internal temperature reaches 140ºF (approximately 45 more minutes).
  8. Remove the ham, lightly cover it with foil and let it rest 15 minutes before slicing and serving.
  9. Serve with scalloped potatoes and green beans.

If you prepare this recipe for your Easter meal, wine selection is nearly risk free! Thanks to the ham’s sweet glaze, both white and red wines will pare well with it. An off-dry Riesling will complement the glaze, while a fruity Gamay Noir will play up the smokiness of the ham. Offer your guests both and encourage them to share which one they preferred most!

Regardless of which dishes you serve, when they are enjoyed alongside fine Ontario VQA wines and beloved company, you are poised for an egg-straordinary celebration!