Here’s part two of our conversation about pairing wine with lamb and wine with ham for Easter, though the pairing tips apply year-round if you love these dishes and the wines that make them taste even better.
I’ve also included tips on pairing wine with chocolate bunnies … it doesn’t matter whether you start with the ear or the tail!
Leanne: Really, the perfect Easter egg hunt takes place at LCBO for Natalie MacLean who is a celebrated wine writer, who’s here offering great tips for your weekend and we have to talk about chocolate.
Leanne: Just to start, now if I would ask you about a red wine, perfectly paired in, something that would have a lot of chocolate notes, you would suggest?
Natalie: An Amarone which is a big Italian red wine and if you’re going to go with the dry red wine with chocolate, you really need a robust flavour level and a somewhat high alcohol level.
Leanne: Why is that?
Natalie: Because you want to melt the chocolate. The chocolate is mouth coating so you need the wine to be able to stand up to those robust flavours and something like Masi Amarone is a terrific one. It’s always in the LCBO, but you know, you can find a section of those wines.
Leanne: Well with this chocolate Easter Bunny, is it a bunny?
Natalie and Leanne: Yes it is a bunny.
Leanne: It still has its ears I might add. You’re suggesting two sorts of dessert traditions, a dessert wine and the other, the port.
Natalie: Yes, exactly. The port is probably going to be the best match for chocolate bunnies because it’s, I know this is very technical now…
It has got to really melt. I mean port is a fortified wine so you’ve got 20 percent alcohol as opposed to 12 or 13 percent with your dry table wine. So it’s got that melt in your mouth capability for the chocolate, it’s got the sweetness. It is sweet, it’s caramel. Imagine that in a dessert with chocolate, so really works well. I’ve chosen a Vidal Ice wine from Niagara from Reif, which is a terrific wine. I’m thinking though, for white chocolate, which some people say doesn’t exist, chocolate is only brown, but I think with your lighter desserts or maybe fruit dipped in chocolate, an ice wine like this one is perfect.
Leanne: And two of your suggestions today are from Niagara region.
Natalie: They are. I’m a huge fan, I mean it’s… we’re producing such a wide range of styles from your dessert wines to your lighter dry whites. There is something there for everyone.
Leanne: Zane is doing a great job at getting shots of this but if in fact you’re thinking ‘I didn’t write down that fast enough’. Not to worry, we’re going to have a link on our website to Natalie’s blog. She has everything listed there. But I would like a little bit more of a lesson on port. What should people know about port? It really does come from Portugal.
Natalie: That’s right, and it’s a sort of trade mark, just a term, just like champagne is. So you can have port style wines from other regions, but port is from Portugal. It’s a fortified wine, meaning they’ve strengthen the alcohol and sweetness by adding more grape juice while the fermentation is happening.
Leanne: And as most great recipes, didn’t this sort of happen accidentally?
Natalie: Oh yes, probably.
Leanne: Oh yeah, trying to remember, switching of barrels or something.
Leanne: I can remember that. Now moving to the middle. You’ve brought along two reds and this one, that I love it when you pronounce, because I certainly couldn’t.
Natalie: Gewürztraminer. You can cough when say that. The Gewürztraminer though is a lovely aromatic sort of floral white wine.
Leanne: And clearly it’s German. Is it?
Natalie: Yes, well the origins started in Alsace in Germany. This one though is from B.C and it’s one of our best producers in Canada, Quail’s Gate. What I’m thinking of for the Gewürztraminer is with have ham, because ham – Easter ham, is a challenge. It can be sweet and savory and salty at the same time. If you’ve got cloves, what are you to do? This wine I think has the spice and the floral notes that will just go really nicely with the ham.
Leanne: Beautiful. We have a Cab Sauv and a Shiraz.
Natalie: The Liberty Cabernet Sauvignon is a terrific, robust red from California.
Leanne: And for price-point?
Natalie: Absolutely. They’re all under twenty here and what… Cabernet Sauvignon is a traditional match for lamb. Lamb can be juicy and succulent and almost a little fatty, but the way we like it. Cabernet Sauvignon is structured, it’s like Bach, its boom, boom, boom, and it goes…
Leanne: It dances.
Natalie: … really well with the lamb.
Leanne: So if lamb is on your menu, go for Cabernet Sauvignon.
Natalie: Or Shiraz from Rosemount. This is a terrific value from Australia. Shiraz is more juicy, more forgiving, more opulent, and so if you really want to layer opulence on opulence with your lamb, go with Shiraz.
Leanne: So layering optimism with opulence, I just (inaudible) invite Natalie MacLean on the show because her words are just like that and of course we have the link as we said, to Natalie’s blog and she has written some great books; and she does… she kind of keeps the wine world on its toes. We’re going to thank you very much.
Natalie: Thanks Leanne.
Leanne: So what are you hoping for? Will the people bring you chocolate and wine or is it too intimidating?
Leanne: If you could have one, if you could have one Easter Bunny too. What would it be?
Natalie: Oh my gosh! Bunny with the…that’s solid, not hollow.
Leanne: Okay, I’m with you. Thanks Natalie.
Natalie: Thank you Leanne.
Wines recommended include:
Here’s part one of our chat on red wine and fish pairing.
Posted with permission of CTV.