Easter Bread and other Italian Traditions Paired with Wine

What does Easter look like to you? For Sue, it’s friends and family gathering around a great meal with Easter bread, plenty of wine and Torrnone candy!

At first, we weren’t going to join this month’s Italian Wine Food Travel edition of Italian Easter Traditions hosted by Vino Travels because we had too much going on and with spring break activities, we didn’t think we’d be around. But then Sue started talking about her Italian family’s tradition of a special Easter Bread, and I told her that of course she had to make this so we could participate!

Italian Easter bread is full of parmesan goodness!

Italian Easter bread was always present on Sue’s family’s table for Easter dinner, and so that was the start of our inspiration, then when we had lunch with Lisa Anselmi and she started talking about her family’s tradition of asparagus risotto at Easter and how well it paired with their Capitel Foscarino wine, we knew what else had to be on our menu.

And for both of our families, Easter meant ham, and ham means ROSE so we added a sparkling and a still. For those who don’t like white wines, we brought in a light bodied spicy Nero D’Avola, and for the coup d’grace, Anselmi’s beautiful Passito to pair with the Zabaglione Sue made along with another Easter favorite of Sue’s, Torrone candy.

For an Easter gathering, consider a broad selection of beverages: we had Italian beer, sparkling wine, rose, white, red and a Passito dessert wine

The Wines

La Tordera – Gabry Sparkling Rose – 12% $15
2014 – Cantina Zaccagnini Rose $10
2013 – Anselmi – Capitel Foscarino – 13.5% – $20
2013 – Harmonium – Nero D’Avola – 14.5% alcohol $28
2011 – Anselmi – Pasito – I Capitelli – 12.5% alcohol $38 (split)
(plus Italian beer for those so inclined!)

The Menu 

For appetizers, we played with the colors and ovoid shapes of eggs for Easter: yellow deviled eggs, oysters, red tomato on white mozzarella on a bed of greens all on top of a festive seasonal quilt made by Sue’s mom

Cheese Plate: Rondule with pesto; Gorgonzola; Mushroom Brie; Kale Pest
Three kinds of crackers and Sue’s Easter Bread full of parmesan cheese
Deviled eggs with parsley and
Artichokes with lemon, mayo, tarragon sauce
Fresh mozzarella with tomato on top of butter lettuce with balsamic and olive oil

Ceasar Salad with lots of garlic, fresh lemon from my tree and anchovies
Rainbow chard and spinach sautéed with garlic and garnished with pine nuts
White asparagus risotto
Baked ham

Zabaglione mixed with fresh berries
Merengue cookies
Torrone candy

2014 – Cantina Zaccagnini – il vino dal traghetto -Cerasuolo d Aburuzzo 12.5% alcohol $10 on sale

Right off the bat, we thought that not only would this Dry Rose Wine from Italy be great for Easter but it would make a great picnic wine too — think Mother’s Day!.

For the money, it’s a nice wine in a fun bottle — just ignore the cheap plastic cork. The label with its simple rustic packaging with the grape stem attached to it with rafia looks like a bottle that belongs on a red and white checked table cloth.

Sue found this wine on sale at Cost Plus World Market during the holidays for $10. I’ve seen the red and white versions on Italian restaurant lists as well as in the Crowley Lake Gas Station and Store  (near Mammoth Lakes Ski area) for under $15.

Color is so important in rose: this one is very pretty wine, a bright fresh color.

On the nose, it reminds us of fresh water that blows off the lake in the morning with cucumber, melon, and watermelon. The scent of  clean water and melons makes you just want to breathe it and enjoy the minerals and salinity.

On the palate, it’s bright, refreshing, energetic, and cuts through rich fatty foods nicely. It offers rose petals and watermelon on the palate, with clean flavors, citrus fruit, and floral, too. Watermelon and cucumber on the nose follows through on the palate. A very nice drinkable wine with an unremarkable finish.

Sue purchased this wine.

2013 – Anselmi – Capitel Foscarino – 13.5% – $20

We were introduced to Anselmi’s wines made of Garganega, the white variety of grapes indigenous to Soave, at a winemaker lunch with Lisa Anselmi. At the lunch, Lisa talked about how wonderful this wine is at Easter with asparagus risotto inspiring us for this dinner. Often people think of the wines of Soave made from Garganega as too bland or too sweet, but the vines and processes used by Anselmi are the less productive, higher quality ones, and make for memorable wines worthy of a higher price tag.

Anselmi’s Capitel Foscarino has it all: fruit and florals and fun funk!

For a white wine it has a lot of body. This wine accommodated many different styles of food with this meal making it a great choice for a holiday gathering.

If you find Anselmi’s Capitel Foscarino on a restaurant menu by the glass or the bottle, get it. It’s a great wine to find at a restaurant because it can pair with so many different foods.

This versatile wine pairs well with a range of foods; it is exquisite with asparagus risotto which is a traditional Easter time food for the Anselmi family

It can stand alone and be wonderful, but what is beautiful about Anselmi’s Capitel Foscarino is the broad range of foods this wine can go with because there is a richness but it is also easy to enjoy and clean on the palate making it absolutely gorgeous with food. Anselmi’s Capitel Foscarino went well with the entire meal from the cheese plate to the risotto; the chard and the ham went equally well with this wine.  This is a very easy drinking wine, but the richness does not last forever, so don’t wait to drink it for too long after it has been open. By the end of the evening, it got thin a bit thin.

Thank you to Terlato wines for this sample for my review consideration. And thank you to Lisa Anselmi for the inspiration for this dish which encouraged us to do this dinner! Learn more about this wine and Anselmi here.

La Tordera – Gabry Rose – 12% $15

When we decided we should have a sparkling wine for this dinner, I suggest we revisit this sparkling dry Rose which we first tasted for a birthday toast back in January.

Salmon color, almost orange, and definitely a rose gold, this festive bottle of bubbles once again went so well with the food: in fact it goes so well from beginning to end of a meal from appetizer, to salad, to main course, to dessert.  It was particularly great with oysters, ham, and ceasar salad.

Crisp and full of mineral, citrus, and rose geranium, this is an all-around satisfying and well balanced. wonderful wine that is a wonderful value.  We love the classy clear bottle that shows off the color and has a unique shape. Forget the prosecco: with the dove on the label, this is the Italian sparkling wine that is perfect for Easter. For more Italian sparkling wines, join us next month!

I purchased this wine at the Ventura Wine Company twice now and I will purchase it again!

2013 – Harmonium – Nero D’Avola Sicilia DOC 14.5% alcohol $28

This is a great wine for people who do not want white wine with a typical Easter meal of lighter fare and ham.  The Harmonium  Nero D’Avola “Sicilia DOC”  has a smokiness to it with a little barnyard, similar to pinot noir profile on the nose. This is not  a heavy wine, but like pinot noir, a lighter bodied red wine.

We delighted in the minerals and violets, cigar box, and cloves on the palette that paired so well with the subtle smoked and spiced flavors of the ham.

Translucent in color, and enticing on the nose with violets, iris, and forest floor, we immediately began imagining more meals with this wine! I could see a pork chop with sage or a pork loin wrapped in pancetta or a number of  smoked meats, even smoked salmon. There is a spicy loveliness to this wine, cloves and cinnamon, baking spices but not a lot of fruit.  There is a very clean finish on the wine similar to chewing on the end of pine needles — the bright green from the new pine needles which is full of vitamin C.

Iron rich soils from the Mt. Etna volcano shine through in the finish. This wine yearns for an earthy creamy richness. Our Mushroom brie went well with this wine. We’d love to try this with a nice Italian country pate, posibly with roasted fennel or Pizza with Italian sausage and fennel.

Sue enjoyed this wine much more after the meal while we were not eating anymore and drinking it on its own. If we had had a pizza or red pasta course with this meal, it would have then been the perfect pair. Once we got thinking about fennel, Sue brought some out and we found that fennel mellows the smokey oak, cigar characteristics of this wine. This wine craves the spicy fennel qualities. It would be interesting to see how this wine does with lamb with a herbal rub including fennel.

A few days later, I realized there was still a glass left in the bottle: surprisingly, it was still very good giving me the indication that this wine could cellar for a number of years.

This wine was a sample for my review consideration. Learn more about the wines of Sicily: http://winesofsicily.com/

2011 – Anselmi – Passito Bianco- I Capitelli – 12.5% alcohol $38 (split)

Passito is a very difficult and time consuming wine to make– hence the high price tag. But it’s one of those wines that is worth every penny — and you don’t need that much of it. A little goes a long way. This is a very sweet wine with numerous layers – carmel, vanilla, honeysuckle, white flower and mocha on the nose and honey crisp on the palate and finish.

While we had this wine with dessert, I’d take it any time of the day or night, and because of its bright acidic and complexity, we could see it pairing with some interesting dishes like Chicken or Lamb korma or something with a coconut milk or curried raisin.

This wine went so well with our zabaglione, we could not stop appreciating both the wine and the dessert together. There is nice acidity in this wine. We can’t see this wine pairing too well with a super sweet dessert but it went well with our zabaglione because the custard was not too sweet and the tartness in the fruit contrasted well with the sweetness of the wine.

Thank you to Terlato Wines for this sample for my review consideration. I’d intended to talk more about this wine and about the process but this post almost 2k words!

Thank you to Sue for all of her hard work making this marvelous meal and for hosting us at her home in the Ojai Valley!

Here are a variety of other Easter dishes and wines to enjoy.  If you catch this in time, chat with us live this Saturday April 1st on Twitter at #ItalianFWT @ 11am EST.  

Jen from Vino Travels features Easter Celebrations in Puglia
Camilla from Culinary Adventures with Camilla features Il Verdetto di Pasqua + Sella & Mosca Terre Rare Riserva Carignano
Susannah of Avvinare features Easter Traditions in Rome
Jill of L’Occasion features 5 Italian Easter Dishes and Wine Pairings

Gwendolyn of Art Predator features Easter Bread and other Italian Traditions Paired with Wine
Mike of Undiscovered Italy features Colomba di Pasqua
Li of The Wining Hour features A Quaint and Peaceful Pasqua in Pienza
Join us next month on May 6th when Sue and I host Italian Sparkling Wines!


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