Last Minute Easter Ideas: Wine & Food Pairings for Lamb, Ham, Salmon & more

Easter celebrations come big and small. My husband’s family is preparing lamb, ham, ribs, and tri-tip–and at least a dozen sides and desserts. It’s hard to know what wines to bring!

Here are some wine ideas for your Easter celebrations, whether they be small ones with just you and a friend or big ones with lots of people–like the one I’m going to with all the clergy and most of the congregation of the local Greek Orthodox church!

Just as Easter is celebrated around the world, the wines I talk about below come from near and far. They include a California Sparkler with salmon, two french wines (a gamay and a Bordeaux rose) with ham, and a Spanish Rioja with lamb.

Enjoy your Easter however you celebrate it!

And if you celebrate hiding sons rather than rising sons, check out this blog post which reviews some kosher wines from Herzog.

A Rose Brut Sparkler for Starters, Oysters & Salmon

Any celebration becomes more festive when you pop a cork from a sparkling wine, champagne, or cava. You can’t go wrong with this beautifully colored and tasty brut rose “Cuvee de la Pompadour” Domaine Carneros by Taittinger, the famous French champagne producers, made from 58% pinot noir and 42% chardonnay.

The wine itself is the color of a delicate pink/peach egg making it even more perfect for Easter brunch or dinner. Since it is not a sweet wine but a true brut and dry with both floral notes of rose and jasmine and strawberry and , it pairs well with a variety of appetizers and entrees, including seafood dips, oysters and seared ahi tuna. Here’s more about this wine plus a review and a recipe of this brut rose paired with seared ahi entree for a Valentine’s dinner.

If your Easter celebration is just you and a few, why not head for the beach or some other special outdoor springtime place to grill salmon–and any oysters that won’t open easily? The Domaine Carneros Brut Rose Cuvee de la Pompadour NV matches the salmon in color and works delightfully. We rounded out this meal with a salad of arugula, fresh sliced strawberries, walnuts, and sheep’s feta dressed with an orange champagne vinegar with olive oil and the wine worked well with that combo also (although walnut oil would have been better but we had olive oil at hand.) You could also serve it with a dessert of mixed berries or just strawberries which are at their peak this time of year.

The Domaine Carneros Brut Rose Cuvee de la Pompadour NV retails at $35 but around holidays like this I’ve seen it on sale for much less. 

If oysters are on your Easter menu, and maybe you don’t want to spend quite so much, you might consider Poema Cava, a Spanish sparkler that tickled my fancy and that of friends  a few weeks ago at a networking event that featured my art and poetry. It retails at $12.

Looking for something unusual? A non-sparkler favorite for oysters is pinot blanc, an uncommon varietal wine done well by Michel-Schlumberger of Dry Creek Valley Sonoma; they  grow grapes and makes wine in a biodynamic (but uncertified) style. Not so easy to find–keep one in the cellar!


I love me some ham!! If you’re heading off, like we are, to Easter festivities which feature ham, you have lots of wines to choose from including wines with a little residual sugar like reisling and gewurtraminer for my sister-in-law and her sister, sparkling wines from classic brut roses and whites to syrahs, or still red, pink, or white wines.What wine you pair with ham may have more to do with how the ham is prepared: the more honey and spices, the more I tend toward grenache, syrah or rose; the more mustard type based marinades and rubs do well with a less fruity, more husky wine.

Tomorrow I’m bringing over a Maison Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages 2009. This 100% gamay is a super pretty pink in the glass, similar to the beet juice I used to dye my eggs today.  Aged for 8-10 months in French oak, it has nice fruit character–it’s a non-overwhelming, unasuming wine perfect for people who don’t usually drink wine, red or white but do on special occasions. It’s easy to find at most retail outlets, it’s French which impresses people, it’s low alcohol at 12% and it’s inexpensive at $13 retail. When I wrote about this wine last year for Wine Blogging Wednesday #68 “I Got Gamay, Babe,” I found that it improved after being open for a few hours, so I will likely open this well before dinner is served. You can learn a lot more about Gamay and in this Gamay in particular  here.

For a French Rose, look for wines from Planet Bordeaux. I’ve sampled several wines from Planet Bordeaux all under $20 and really enjoyed them; and found last February that Bordeaux rose goes really well with ham when I sampled the Mayne Sansac 2009 Rose; it was INCREDIBLE with a barbecued ham with lots of clove (s0 much clove it made my tongue tingle!) Standing up to that ham was a tall order but this rose did. Wow.


Not everyone is a fan of lamb, but we are in this household. I tend toward AUS syrah and GSMs imported by The Grateful Palate, but when offered a sample of Bodedgas RODA reserve with the suggestion of pairing it with lamb,  I jumped at the opportunity.

This time of year, it’s easy to find lamb. Often, it is already marinated. We compared the lamb at Trader Joe’s with that at the grocery store and went with the Trader Joe’s pre-marinated in burgundy, pepper and herbs lamb to make it easy and to see how it was.

As you may have noticed, we like to cook meat on the barbecue. While my husband wanted to rotisserie the leg of lamb like he’s done before, it was going to take too much time so he simply barbecued it following the directions on the package.

The key to cooking meat–on the grill or off–is having an excellent meat thermometer and using it to ensure that the meat is at the correct temperature. You can use the guide on the package, but you might want to use the lower end of the temperature range.

The Bodgegas RODA 2006 has a lot going on and easily could handle the rich, herb and pepper flavors of the lamb. A blend with predominately tempranillo with 14% graciano and 5% garnacha, it has plenty of body and spice itself as well as a nice deep color. With lots of fresh red fruit (cherries and more) and nice balance, you could open it and decant it while the lamb is cooking for it to open up more; if you forget it will be fine just before you eat. More spice and complexity comes out the longer the bottle is open. I l loved the finish–it went on and on. The wine is suitable for aging; it spent 16 months in French oak (50% new) then 20 months in the bottle.

A special occasion wine like Easter, BODEGAS RODA RESERVA 2006  retails at $45.

4 thoughts on “Last Minute Easter Ideas: Wine & Food Pairings for Lamb, Ham, Salmon & more

  1. Pingback: Wine – where do you start? » Blog Archive » wine information?

  2. Pingback: What to Pair with Copper River Salmon: Pinot Noir & other ideas « Wine Predator

  3. Pingback: Holiday Wine Challenge Part 1: Turkey? Ham? Red? White? Rose? « Wine Predator

  4. Pingback: Holiday Wine Challenge Part 3: Ham & Zin! « Wine Predator

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