EASTER baskets at the ready, the long Bank Holiday weekend is the perfect excuse to indulge in our favourite cravings.
Entertaining family and friends with an Easter parade of spring lamb, leafy greens, fine cheeses and Simnel cake calls for a look at food-friendly wines.
Having decorated the home with chocolate eggs and a host of golden daffodils, why not kick-off with one of our beloved classics – a mean Bloody Mary.
The secret is not to scrimp. Just because it’s a spicy drink, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use a good quality super-premium vodka like Ketel One (£24.99, 70cl, Majestic) which will give a fantastic, creamy texture on a 3:1 ratio of juice to vodka.
How to make ultimate Bloody Mary –
50ml Ketel One vodka, 6 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 3 dashes hot sauce, 150ml tomato juice, a pinch of celery salt, freshly ground black pepper
Gently roll the ingredients together in a shaker, strain into a celery-salt-and-black-pepper rimmed collins glass. Garnish with cherry tomatoes and a lemon wedge.
Good Friday traditionally calls for a fish supper, so why not try one of my favourite Californian chardonnays that stands up to a meaty fish.
If Easter ham is on the menu, you need enough sweetness in a glass to balance the saltiness on the plate. Try Wakefield Riesling 2008 (£8.95, www.slurp.co.uk) for an intense mouthful of tropical fruits with a vibrant, crisp finish.
After church or being entertained by a troupe of Morris dancers, a Sunday roast of Spring lamb makes a delicious homecoming. Try Louis Latour Marsannay Rouge 2007 (£12.99 or £9.99 when you buy 2, special promotion Majestic) which is an intense pinot noir from the famed Cote d’or region in France. With a seductive silky texture and a fruity nose, it pairs well with younger cuts of lamb served pink and fresh garden herbs.
Or if you’re serving a leg of lamb infused with rosemary, try Promised Land Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot 2007 (£8.45, www.slurp.co.uk) with lip-smacking flavours of ripe plum, red berries and subtle liquorice. With soft tannins and a long finish, there’s enough structure and fruit to handle the robust flavours of the lamb.
Pass the port please ... savoury treats like a sharp cheddar, stilton and Roquefort are crying out for something rich and succulent such as Taylor’s Late Bottled Vintage 2004 (£12.99, 75cl, Tesco). The sweet, fruity aromas of black cherries and plum with a hint of liquorice complement the salty tang of the cheese. And it’s an excellent tipple with chocolate truffles.
Those with a sweet tooth who love to sin with Simnel at the end of Lent should try pairing a light, sparkling wine with the fruits, spices and marzipan in traditional Easter cake. De Stefani’s ’Metodo Zero’ Prosecco (£11.50, www.winegrapevine.co.uk) is a moreish glass of creamy, peachy fruit with notes of vanilla and a crispness that cuts through the richness of the flavours.
Happy Easter hunting!
:: BEST BUYS
A bright red from the Med, this classic Chianti is a luscious blend of 95% sangiovese and 5% ciliegiolo with ripe cherry flavours. Soft and smooth, Familae Piccini Chianti Riserva DOCG 2007 (£5.49 from £10.99 until April 13, Sainsbury’s) is a super Tuscan that’s terrific with a Sunday roast or tomato-based pasta dishes.
Bargain bubbles worth the trolley dash ... Abel Charlot Champagne NV (£12.99 from £25.99 until April 5, Marks & Spencer) is a flute of fine fizz that won’t disappoint. Creamy with some yeasty richness and ripe with citrus fruit, it’s a yummy match with smoked salmon sandwiches on Bank Holiday Monday.
:: LIQUID NEWS
Drink to a good cause ... Tesco and brewer Shepherd Neame have teamed up to raise £20,000 for Tesco Charity of the Year, CLIC Sargent (the children’s cancer charity) by launching Canterbury Jack (£1.74, 500ml, Tesco stores nationwide). Previously only available on draught in pubs, this mellow, light bitter with refreshing citrus flavours is a bottle worth bagging in support of their charity.
Win dinner for two at a Michelin star restaurant and be presented with a trophy at Sommelier of the Year finals on April 28.
Wine lovers thirsty to test their skills beyond the supermarket shelves should check-out Piper Heidsieck’s Amateur Sommelier of the Year 2010 competition. The first round involves answering 20 testing wine-related questions, and three correct entries will be selected to go through to the second round. Open now until mid April, anyone with an interest in wine can enter, for further info visit www.decanter.com.