Best Wines For Easter/Passover Feast #SundaySupper

For this week’s #SundaySupper we celebrate the traditional spring feasts of Easter and Passover.  And what’s a feast without some good wine?

Wine has always figured prominently in many religions, including Communion in the Christian faith, and the Passover Seder.


The two main dishes served for Easter are ham and lamb.  Both pair quite well with a wide variety of wines—Red, White and even Rosé.  Ham’s tried and true partner for white wine are Riesling and Gewürztraminer.  Both wines offer fresh, flavorful taste profiles with enough sweet fruit to balance the salt in the ham and enough acidity to support endless variety of glazes that top the ham.  If you prefer a red wine with your ham, go with Zinfandel especially if your ham features a spicy sweet glaze.

Lamb’s tried and true wine partner is Pinot Noir. The fresh, earthy, herbal, spicy character of Pinot Noir will enable you to play with a variety of marinades, crusts, and sauces.  Pinot Noir also has the added benefit of working with roast poultry or even beef should you fancy those in addition to, or instead of the traditional ham and lamb main dishes.  Other reds like Syrah, Rhône blends, Merlot, Tempranillo, and Cabernet Sauvignon also work well.

So then how to choose which?  I’d recommend Pinot Noir for rack of lamb, or leg of lamb served pink with fresh herbs or spring vegetables.  For roast lamb, or lamb shank served more well done served with garlic and/or rosemary and a sauce, choose Cabernet Sauvignon or a Bordeaux blend.  For slow roasted lamb or barbecued lamb go with a Syrah.

Of course, there’s more to a feast than ham and lamb.  Likewise, there are other wines to consider for your feast.  I highly recommend having a bottle of bubbly on hand.  And also consider a Rosé, either sparkling or still. Both are very versatile at the table and will go will with everything from your first course through your main dish.

Here are my recommended wines for your Easter/Passover feasts!

Wines for Easter

Know what I love about sparkling wine? It’s the only type of wine that’s socially acceptable to drink with any meal! Besides, it pair well with almost anything, and adds a celebratory feel, a “je nais se quoi”  to your gathering. So have a bottle of bubbly on hand.  I recommend Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Noirs – a sparkling wine made mostly from Pinot Noir with a cherry, citrus, and vanilla character. It’ll be great with your appetizers and salad.

For white wine, I recommend an off-dry (slightly sweet) Riesling.  One of my favorites is the 2012 Chateau Ste. Michelle-Dr. Loosen Riesling Columbia Valley Eroica.  It’s off-dry  with vibrant acidity and a beautiful white peach, grapefruit and mineral character.

Rosé is an oft overlooked option at the table for Easter. It has mild red wine flavors with the cool refreshing personality of a white wine.  Look for the 2013 Bonny Doon Vin Gris de Cigare.  It has a crisp, refreshing  wild strawberry, citrus character.  It will pair well with a wide range of appetizers, salads, and side.  And even the ham!

For red wines, I recommend a Pinot Noir, and a red Rhône blend.   I like  2011 Mt. Beautiful North Canterbury Pinot Noir 2011 from New Zealand where they’re makings some fantastic Pinot.  It has harmonious black cherry, cranberry, baking spice and vanilla character.  I also recommend the  2012 Tablas Creek Vineyard Patelin de Tablas. It’s a blend of mostly Syrah, Grenache, and Mourvedre that has juicy raspberry, cherry, spice, slightly herbal character underscored by an appealing minerality. 

Wines for desserts

For desserts, I recommend  Moscato d’Asti for fruit based and creamy desserts or Madeira for richer desserts such as cheesecake, tiramisu or chocolate based desserts.

Look for Vietti Cascinetta Moscato d’Asti, it’s billowing peach, and rose petal aromas are followed on the palate delicately sweet, lightly sparkling with fruit-driven peach, and apricot flavors.

Madeira is a fortified wine made on an island off the coast of Portugal.  It has wonderful toffee-caramel like character that is the result of heated aging. And its acidity keeps it from being overly cloying on the palate.  Look for Broadbent 10 Year Old Malmsey.  It has a rich full-bodied molasses, toffee character with hint of orange character.

Wines for Passover

Kosher wines have come a long way from overly sweet Manischewitz.  There are quality bottles produced all over the world including Israel, Italy and Napa.  And today’s Kosher wines can compete with the best wines from around the world.  Here are some quality bottles that won’t break the bank.

On the sparkling wine front, look for newly released Freixenet ‘Excelencia’ Kosher Brut Cava with a crisp, refreshing pear, and apple character to pair with your breakfast/brunch (bubbly is the only wine that’s socially acceptable in the morning ;-), appetizers, salads, and egg-based dishes.

2013 The Tribe Chardonnay – from Napa Valley based Covenant Wines, one of the top producers of Kosher wine.  This is a crisp, fresh Chardonnay with hints of apple, pear quince, and a bit of spice. It’s also a great option for pairing with appetizers, especially those with melted cheese, or chicken.

2010 Gamla Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Golan Heights, Israel – Here’s a medium-bodied red wine that has a  fruity, smooth, blackberry, cassis, and vanilla character. Pair with braised lamb.

Whether you’re celebrating Easter, Passover, or just looking for menu inspiration, the #SundaySupper team of weekly contributors has a stellar line up of recipes waiting for you! Check it out….



Savory and Sweet Breads:

Sides and Salads:

Main Dishes:


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52 thoughts on “Best Wines For Easter/Passover Feast #SundaySupper

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  11. I love reading your suggestions, Martin, even when I know I probably can’t get most of the right labels here. You put such thought and care into choosing just the right ones. Thank you!

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  16. So glad to know that bubbly is socially acceptable for any sort of meal…And so glad we’ve got a wine savvy man at the Sunday Supper table….My husband and I rarely touch alcohol so I am grateful for your knowledge. Next time I make cheesecake, I’ll have to pick up a bottle of Madeira for our guests =)

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  19. I’m dreaming of a rack of lamb roasted with Herbs de Provence and served with a glass of Pinot Noir. :) Thank you so much for this! I always need help with wine pairings and this is perfect.

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