free run juice

easter wines that rise to the top

I love a good egg hunt, but I don’t like hunting for good wine and I know you don’t either. So here’s grapefriend’s handy guide to what to drink with some traditional Easter foods.

honey spiral ham

This is probably the biggest Easter staple. And with a honey-baked one the sweetness mixes so yummily with the salty ham – which goes perfectly with the sugar-acid balance in a good Riesling.

Fox Run, $14 – this is one of my favorite Finger Lakes Riesling’s (other is Red Newt Circle) – yellow apples and mild nectarine.

Bex, $10 – Lacks a little of the acid that classic Rieslings from Mosel, Germany have, but this is killer for the price.

Oak Knoll, $10 – Kept wanting to try a Riesling from Oregon. This one tends more to the apple side of flavor rather than the classic apricot and peach, but it was still good and easy drinkin’.

Fritsch Riesling Wagram, $17 – Austrian Rieslings tend to be a little on the drier side like this one, but it’s still well balanced and has some delicious apricot flavors happening.

If you’re dying for red, though, I’d go with a Beaujolias. Usually you think of the Nouveau version which comes out every fall and which I’m not a huge fan of. But Beaujolais can be a great, light red and I love busting some out in the spring. It’s made from the Gamay grape and is nice and fruity (raspberry and strawberry) with pretty violet notes.

Jadot Beaujolais-Villages – This is a great, affordable entry level Beaujolias and can be found in basically every wine store in America.

From there you can start working up the chain towards the “Cru” Beaujolias from areas like Fleurie – my fave – and Morgon.

spiced ham

Spiced ham isn’t something that ever went down in our house for Easter, but I know it’s traditional for other peeps. And really it’s just a good excuse for me to recommend some good Gewurztraminer’s. Gewurz (“ge-VURTZ”) as the cool kids call it is fruity and slightly sweet, kinda like Riesling but with much less acid. It’s a great pairing with spicy foods like said ham, wasabi-fied sushi and Indian food. The aroma is usually pretty intense, dead giveaway being the smell of lychee. The classic taste is peaches and apricots, and everyone always says it’s “spicy” but they mean baking spices like ginger and cinnamon rather than “hot” spicy. Give it a whirl with one of these really good ones:

Arista, $28 – Palatable, easy, not too much spice for those who want an entry Gewurz.

Andrian, $22 – This one’s from Alto Adige in northern Italy. Very rich, also less acid and spice but good quince and pear flavors.

Firestone, $14 – Orange blossoms and lychee with some citrus to balance it out.

Breggo, $25 – The spices in this one are really elegant, a little more complex and restrained than most and I loved it. Feels like a Gewurz that takes it to the next level.

Corey Creek, $35 – Fantastic nose of honeysuckle, rose and lychee with great spicy ginger and a nice acid streak to keep it all in check. I also love the calla lilly label (by photographer Howard Schatz).


Some people love Syrah with lamb, but I’m a big fan of pairing it with a Bordeaux blend. And for lamb I’d go with one that’s a little heavier on the Merlot, but that’s just my personal preference. Problem is, it’s hard to find good Bordeaux or even Bordeaux-style blends that aren’t as much as your monthly rent. Try these:

Duckhorn Decoy Red Blend, $25 – An easy drinker, with blueberry, black currant and some cinnamon dashed in.

Ravenswood Pickberry, $50 – Deep blackberry flavor with some earthy sage and cocoa mixed in.

Opus One 2006 – This is heavier on the Cab (77% Cab 12% Merlot), but it’s still almost double the amount of Merlot than other years’ blends. The winemaker told me it was because the Merlot was excellent in ’06. This is a really good wine, but it’s $180 – should you be in the market to spend that much, go crazy.


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