Spring Fling: St Paddy’s & Easter

Watching the bud’s bloom, animals wakening from their winter slumber and seeing the world reborn make’s settling into Spring one of the best times of year.  This rejuvenation of the earth around us is met with an unfurling Social Calendar.  Typically, March signals the celebration of St Patrick’s Day and often times, the Easter Holiday.  However, this year we’ll get some time to digest the corned beef before heading into Easter.  Going back into the annals of Holiday’s past, these two are the perfect way to move on from Punxsutawney Phil’s shadowy predictions.   It seems with every passing year Ireland’s foremost patron saint is celebrated culturally more than religiously.  Green laden parades are complete with boiled portions of corned beef & cabbage!  For those that won’t be in downtown Hartford on the Green Beer Bar Crawl, fret not as better times are to be had at home with some simple wine advice!

Most would argue the best pairing for traditional Irish cuisine is a whiskey shot followed by a pint of Guinness, and while I can’t disagree there’s more than meets the eye with well cured Corned Beef & Cabbage.  The challenge in this wine pairing is the salty, herb infused flavors that can beat down many wines.   White wine lovers will have a greater range of flavors to play with as there’s plenty of bright, medium bodied white wines that would deliver enough lip-stinging acidity to carry the sodium.  Favorites are Rieslings, both dry and sweet, or white blends offering medium body and zesty acidity.  For die-hard red wine drinkers, be warned: stay away from tannic, over-oaked reds as the beef will simply make your wine seem aggressively bitter.  The solution is finding reds with supple fruit flavor profiles, low tannins and moderate to high acidity.  Saint Patrick himself would be delighted with racy flavors of a Grenache from any of our favorite places including France’s Rhone valley, most Spanish renditions and of course, a West Coast favorite hailing from Monterey.  All will serve you well and bring a vinous tone to the celebration!

Falling in mid-April, this year you’ll have plenty of turnaround time to get prepped for Easter.  With that comes a few perks because this is the time of year the Bottle Stop is stocking up on the season’s newest vintages of Rose!  Fresh off the docks and on the shelves, a myriad of styles waiting to be explored.  While delicious Rose comes from many great regions of the wine world, the South of France tends to deliver on hallmark flavors, fitting the Easter table just right.  The pale, almost salmon colored renditions offer bright citrus fruits with elements of crushed red fruits and hints of herb.  These flavors match beautifully with delicious Ham and traditional sides.  The refreshing acidity of a French Rose adds zest to the savory, salty elements provided by the Ham, resulting in a taste bud flavor bomb that’ll have your mouth watering for more!  If you must have red, see my recommendation at the end of this article for some time-tested favorites!

If Lamb is the favored fare this Holiday, there remains a world of pairing potential.  While there are some whites that can stand up to the rich, earthy flavors present here, the best pairings are red wines.  A decadent, red meat dressed with herbs, garlic and other classic ingredients cooked just right can offer so many powerful flavors.  Your palate is left salivating with every bite and in a nod to Newton’s third law, we’ll need an opposite reaction to help counterbalance the flavor rush.  A sweeping red, one with rich fruit, married to herb or oak flavors and finishing with firm, velvety tannins.  A wine of this opulence will match the intensity of the lamb flavors and leave a light, dry coating on the palate.  The trick here is the drying component, after every sip you’ll dive in for another bite of lamb and after every bite, you’ll yearn for another sip; the quintessential result of a good pairing!  For fans of the New World, look to a West Coast Cabernet to deliver the goods.  If your palate leans towards the Old World, Barolo from a ripe, warm vintage always hits the mark with Lamb.

Spring brings new colors, new flavors and most of all, New Life!  Enjoy yours with the right bottle of wine!