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In preparation for Easter Sunday, families are stocking up on egg essentials for the elusive hunt, arranging brunches for after church, and spending time with close friends and family.

I can still recall Easter holidays coming home and hastily preparing Easter brunch before guests arrived. Scones or cinnamons rolls were popped out of the oven, the ham or roast was resting, ready to be served, and Easter candy was already being devoured. Whether you’re having family over for ham or something different altogether, Easter is one of those holidays that makes it notoriously difficult to find the perfect pairings. But with just a few easy tips in mind, you can take the guesswork and anxiety away, and enjoy being the host with the most.

As with any other holiday that combines various side dishes, accompaniments and even multiple main course entrees, Easter can leave a wine enthusiast’s head spinning. However, I find that the simple way to approach these things is similar to any pairing — plan ahead, and dissect what you’re trying to pair.

For any brunch lovers out there, the notion of an epic brunch can be completed only with epic wines and mid-morning cocktails. The assortment of egg dishes, fresh fruit, pastries, and maybe even a roast are all commonplace on my family's Easter spread. While there isn’t one specific wine that is the silver bullet pairing, I find that the aforementioned items lend themselves to an array of wines on the spectrum, and would encourage you to try out a few of them to see which you like best.

I find the bubbly and fruity Prosecco from the Veneto wine region in Northern Italy, or Moscato D’Asti from the Piedmont region, also in Northern Italy, is often perfect with egg dishes to cut through the fatty nature that come with them. Also, try french toast with brioche served with fresh or glazed fruit and other breakfast-themed items. These two wines boast bright, fruity flavors of citrus and melons, and with their sparkling qualities, bounce on your palate for an elegant tablescape.

For many families around Easter time, ham is also in the fray and can be prepared in a multitude of styles. For traditional preparations, like a simple brown sugar glaze or incorporating chutneys, I recommend pairing with German Rieslings. The sweetness in German styles will complement the flavors from traditional hams and downplay the typical saltiness of the dish. Austrian Gewurztraminers are also great options to highlight in peppery additions of clove or cinnamon and offer a refreshing “zip”. For the red wine lovers, an Australian Shiraz, like that Penfolds’ selections or a young Beaujolais made from Gamay grapes, offer a vibrant and fruity wine wonderful for bringing ham and roasted and herbed vegetables together.

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Just like ham offers versatility to pair with red or white wines, another great option is looking for a fruity rosé Wine that comes with apparent sweetness, like those from Côtes du Rhône or even new world styles. Rosé wines maintain a crispness that is perfect to cut through rich textures but are still ample enough to match them. This flexibility can also make it a great wine to pair when many side dishes are included with your meal. 

If your meal includes a rack of lamb or similar roast, look for wines that have more body to pair with this rich and gamey items. Look for Châteauneuf-Du-Pape, with its 13 different grape varietals it’s ample and bold qualities sure to level up to enough the biggest roasts. Other great options include Syrahs from the Côtes du Rhône. These lend earthy and spice notes that can be a wonderful pairing with any dry rub applications. Australian Cabernet, with spicy notes and heightened tannins, offer great partners to cut through fattier roasts and structure and fruity qualities to accent the dish as you would with a cherry glaze.

I encourage you, whether playing guest or host, to try setting the table with a few of these great picks for your Easter spread. As the season begins to evolve and come back to life, these styles of wine are sure to offer a vibrant and lively addition to any table or gathering.

Carson Bodnarek, a self-proclaimed “cork dork”, is a certificate recipient from the Court of Master Sommeliers and is currently studying for his certified CMS exam. Always on the hunt for his next great bottle of wine for his collection, he is an avid jetsetter and devout foodie. After moving to Quad-Cities from Iowa City in 2013, Carson now resides in Bettendorf.

Contact Carson Bodnarek at 563-383-2299 or cbodnarek@qctimes.com.

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