As I write this in late March, the sun is blazing outside, but by mid-April, who knows? That said, Easter is late enough this year for us at least to feel that it’s spring and therefore eat and drink accordingly. So, crisp dry whites and summery rosés are definitely on the cards, and you could lighten up reds a notch, too.
If there’s a time of the year that prosecco really shines, it’s Easter. Being slightly sweeter than most sparkling wines, especially (perversely) the “extra-dry” category, it goes particularly well with a colomba di Pasqua, the dove-shaped Easter version of panettone, as well as with simnel cake and, of course, Easter eggs. Personally, I prefer a rosé prosecco, especially the rather smart one I’ve recommended below, which you’ll love if you’re a Provence rosé fan, but even the cheaper ones generally have more character than basic prosecco, thanks to the fruity pinot noir that is typically added to them.
And, as opposed to Christmas, when you deviate from tradition at your peril, Easter is a bit more relaxed, so you can afford to be more adventurous, particularly when there’s real value to be had. Hungarian furmint, for example, is a dry white wine that should be on your radar. It’s the same grape variety that produces the country’s famous sweet wine tokaji, and is one of those massively useful dry whites that seems to go with everything, and certainly with those perennial Easter favourites, chicken and salmon. Austria’s grüner veltliner is another to look out for, and Aldi has a particularly good one in its Specially Selected range (12.5%) for £6.99 that’s well worth snapping up.
Pinot noir is the most versatile spring red, and there’s a lot around at the moment, especially from more unusual sources such as Argentina. Again, Aldi has a bargain at £6.99 and also the cracking Pinot Vigilante that I’ve been trying to write about for a couple of months and which is finally now in stock (I mentioned it a few weeks back, so apologies if you’ve been frustrated). At £10.99, it’s expensive for Aldi, but not for New Zealand’s Central Otago. I’d drink that with chicken, ham or duck, or anything mushroomy.
If you fancy a bigger, bolder red, rioja has evolved in style over the past few years, and many wines are being released significantly younger, resulting in brighter fruit, as shown by the Barón de Barbón below. At the same time, just the name “rioja” will be reassuring to older relatives you may have round your table, so it’s a bit of a winner all round.
Five wines to enjoy over Easter
Pajzos Tokaji Furmint 2019 £7.95 The Wine Society, 12.5%. Appealingly smooth, dry, Hungarian white that you’ll like if you’re a gavi fan. Goes with (practically) everything, including a mild curry.
Specially Selected Argentinian Pinot Noir 2021 £6.99 Aldi (in store only), 12.5%. Argentina isn’t as well known as Chile for its pinot noir, but this is really good, with clean, bright fruit and it has a freshness that inexpensive Chilean pinot often lacks. Try with roast chicken or duck.
Barón de Barbón Oak-Aged Rioja 2020 £11.99 (or £10.49 on a mixed-case deal) Laithwaites, 14%. A young, vibrant rioja that has lots in common with a malbec, but should still keep traditionalists happy. One for the Easter lamb or even a barbecue.
Domaine Equis Crozes Hermitage “Equinoxe” Rouge 2020 £17.95 Yapp Brothers, 12.5%. Classic, spicy, northern Rhône syrah that would be lovely with lamb or roast duck. An amazing amount of flavour for the ABV