How to pick the right wine for your Easter lamb

Many of us will roast lamb tomorrow and it deserves a nice wine alongside

I am not sure how the heroes of the Rising prepared themselves for insurrection, but I can guess that they were not tucking into a celebratory feast on Easter Sunday. That should not stop us from doing so.

Robert Mitchell of wine merchants Mitchell & Son sent me part of their wine list from 1916. It makes for interesting reading. I quite fancy the Bollinger 1906 for around 11 shillings a bottle; he adds that a shilling was the equivalent of six cent, making the Bollinger very attractively priced compared to today’s price of €95.

A glass of fizz is always a great way to kick-start a festive meal, and Easter is no exception. As my birthday also falls on Easter Sunday this year, I intend cracking open a nice bottle of Champagne.

Lamb is the traditional centrepiece of most Easter feasts. Happily, it is also one of the most wine-friendly foods of all. A lighter dish of lamb cutlets with spring vegetables probably calls for a Pinot Noir, but I suspect most of us will be serving a large roast with gravy, garlic and rosemary to several generations of the family. A good Bordeaux would be perfect with this, the lightly drying tannins and elegant fruit providing a perfect foil for the meat.


Rioja is another great match for roast lamb. The riojanos adore whole milk-fed baby lamb roasted in an asador or brick oven, or chuletas, lamb chops grilled on dried vine cuttings. You are unlikely to have the wherewithal to do either of these dishes, but a bottle of Crianza or Reserva Rioja will certainly go nicely with your roast of lamb.

You could also try a New World cabernet sauvignon. But I am currently on something of a Tuscan kick and I fancy a fine Chianti would do equally well with a roast of lamb or any other red meat.

Try not to drown your lamb in mint sauce; the combination of sweetness and vinegar will kill your wine.

If you are lashing into standard issue chocolate Easter eggs, I would steer clear of all wine, except possibly Asti Spumante. However, good quality dark chocolate goes nicely with fortified wines. This includes ports of all kind, Malmsey madeira, sweeter sherry and the vins doux naturels of southern France.

I have been eyeing up the Gérard Bertrand Banyuls in O’Briens (€23.95), which I will serve lightly chilled with some dark chocolate.

Even if your budget is limited, serving your wine with a little bit of ceremony and in the right glasses will make it all seem so much better. This is the time to take out your best decanter, bottle coaster and your finest glassware.


Merinas Tempranillo 2014, Uclés, Organic, 14%, €12

Juicy rounded dark cherries and soft tannins; great easy-drinking everyday wine. Amazing value at €12.

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