Pairings for a Pascal Feast—

Updated: Apr 2

an exploration of three Easter centerpieces and the wines to pair alongside.

With Easter approaching, the hares are out at Les Vins Lelièvre in Lucey, France.

The Pascal feast is upon us, and while for many Easter doesn’t have the immovable culinary traditions of Thanksgiving, there are still dishes like lamb and ham that make appearances more often during this Sunday than others.

Let’s look at three classic Easter centerpieces, and explore a wine for each that we feel makes it feel like Spring has sprung!

Lamb:

While some of us enjoy the rich, robust, and pastoral flavors of lamb year-round, it is an Easter specialty in many houses across the country. Lamb is often grass-finished, which lends to its unique, sometimes game-like flavors. The extra dimension to lamb’s natural flavors makes it an especially fun pairing with super expressive red wines that would overwhelm more delicate proteins. While a host of different wines from southern France, Italy, or Spain would do the trick, we especially enjoy wines hailing from the deep South of France, and blessed with the characteristic garrigue aromas found in that area. Oh, what is garrigue? Garrigue is a French term for the wild hillside vegetation of the Mediterranean Coast. Instead of describing a single aroma in a wine, “garrigue” refers to a mix of lavender, juniper, thyme, rosemary and sage. I’m sure you’re noticing that all those flavors are classic seasonings for lamb, so it makes perfect sense that red wines such as Le Petit Clos Maïa Rouge, from the Languedoc, match so effortlessly with the same meat. Keep your lamb preparation simple, incorporating some of these classic herbs, and really let the marriage of all these flavors shine through.


Ham:

While technically any four-legged livestock can be the source of ham, we are of course referring to the cured hind leg of the noble pig. Outside of being one the most perfect foods in the world (your author really, really likes ham), ham also offers you great flexibility when pairing wine. The 2021 rosés hitting the market recently offer some fine options, and there are indeed richer, more viscous whites that fit the bill as well. But we’re reaching for Colterenzio St. Magdalener this year, and we think you’d like it too. Crafted mainly from Schiava, this is a red that plays nice with the warmer days that have begun creeping in, as it takes very well to a slight chill (though that is entirely optional and up to you). It likewise agrees readily with the flavors of sharper cheddar cheese, making it a happy match with the mac-n-cheese that we can’t imagine would be left off any respectable Easter spread. It’s light, bright, high-toned flavors of mixed red berries and perfectly tart accents of Rainier cherry will keep your palate refreshed, and elevate the mild sweetness and balanced saltiness of any great ham. Go ahead and stock up on this one, because it’s going to be a great complement to those breezy Spring nights on the front porch as well.


Rabbit:

Don’t tell the kids, but bunnies aren’t just for the conveyance of candy during this season. They are likewise one of the more under-appreciated main courses this side of the briar patch. Rabbit is one of the mildest of all game meats, and is in great abundance during the late winter and early spring. Just about any wooded area of our great state offers the chance to harvest a freezer-full of these delicious treats, so see if any of your sportsman friends and family have one or two to spare. Slow roast it in the oven with some carrots and onions, and then pair it with Passetoutgrains. A blend of pinot noir and gamay, Passetoutgrains (Burgubdy's best kept secret) is perfect with milder game (quail, dove, even squirrel), but it really shines with rabbit. Pinot is classically a lighter red, but the great ones still offer a little earthiness--forest floor, mushroom, wet leaves, or other clean aromas to accentuate the abundant fruit. Rabbit, likewise, offers mostly mild flavors, but with the slightest note of earthy game. There is hardly a more intuitive pairing in the world food and wine, and we hope you get to experience it soon!