Easter is celebrated by friends and families all over the world. But from country to country, there are many different traditions and dishes. This year we explore how a few cultures celebrate, what food they serve, and offer some top tips on a good wine pairing.
When it comes to Easter in the UK or the USA, most are well-versed in cooking traditions, from fish on Good Friday to roasted Lamb on Easter Sunday with an abundance of chocolate in between. But it can be a bit trickier when it comes to finding a suitable wine pairing!
Read our guide to food and wine pairings at Easter here. However, if you’re interested in discovering something a little different this year, read on. We spoke to Lucy Stevenson DipWSET, Regional Marketing Manager EMEA WSET, about her top tips for pairing dishes from around the world.
Roasted lamb is a popular choice at Easter across the channel for many French families. This is normally served with gratin dauphinois (a creamy-baked potato dish) or navarin d’agneau (lamb ragoût/stew).
In more rural areas, the use of local ingredients and regional recipes are often preferred. For example, in the western region of Poitou, many enjoy a pâte de Paques. This meal involves cooked young spinach and nettles with cream added into a pastry with whole hard-boiled eggs. The dish is sliced and served with pickles and salad as a traditional starter.
For dessert, many people enjoy Mouna which is an orange-flavoured brioche bun. Mouna originates from the Algerian city of Oran and it’s a great example of how French cuisine has adopted some North African delicacies. While the dough can be made in different ways, the elements common to nearly all recipes are citrus fruit, orange blossom, and aniseed.
Pairing top tip
Lamb and creamy potatoes require a wine with plenty of flavour, tannins, and acidity, to stand up to the fatty richness of the dish. A Cabernet Sauvignon blend from Bordeaux or the South of France works well. Or you could go for a Bandol from Provence—a powerful, savoury wine made mainly from the Mediterranean variety Mourvedre.
Spinach-based dishes can be tricky to pair. Look for something white and fragrant, but with enough body to hold the weight of the cream and enough acidity to match the pickle. One could go for a dry Riesling from Alsace or a Chardonnay from the Mâconnais region in Bourgogne.
To balance the sweetness in the Mouna bun, you’ll need a sweeter wine. For a good flavour match, try Muscat de Beaumes de Venise AOC—a sweet, fortified wine from the Southern Rhône with similar orange blossom aromas. Alternatively, you could go for a Sauternes from Bordeaux or a Jurançon Doux from the foothills of the Pyrenees.
If you’re interested in developing a base of knowledge about wine pairing and learning about wines around the world, both the Level 1 Award in Wines and the Level 2 Award in Wines are suited for both professionals and enthusiasts. Find out more about these courses by clicking here.
On the other side of the Atlantic, the catholic country of Brazil commemorates the passing of Christ in the holy week of Semana Santa. After Good Friday, many observe abstinence from meat until Easter Sunday.
In between, Brazilians enjoy sweet, sugary chocolates such as brigadeiro (hand-rolled chocolate balls). Another delicacy called paçoca is made from crushed nuts, flour, sugar and salt, baked into a hardened edible. This is a well-known treat enjoyed by many and handed out at festivals.
On Palm Sunday, bacalhau (salted cod) is often served as a traditional staple dish. Like other South American countries, Brazilians pioneered preserving meat and fish with salt. Easter bacalhau can be served in many ways across this enormous and diverse nation.
Pairing top tip
Brazil has been making wine for over 100 years and has recently built a reputation for producing very good sparkling wines. A slightly sweet Brazilian sparkling wine made from the Moscato variety would work well alongside sugary pastries. If you can’t find a Brazilian example, a Moscato d’Asti from Italy would offer a similar experience.
Salted cod pairs very well with high acid, aromatic whites – a Brazilian Riesling or Sauvignon Blanc would be ideal. If you’re struggling to find Brazilian wines, you could seek out other wines made from these varieties. Perhaps look to Portugal, where salted cod is often eaten alongside white wines made from the country’s many aromatic local grapes. An unoaked white from the Douro Valley or Vinho Verde would be a great option too.
Our wine pairings for lamb or chocolate will stand you in good stead in the Antipodes. Australians tend to celebrate in much the same way as the UK and the US.
However, you may struggle to find the Easter bunny! In Australia, rabbits are renowned as pests for destroying crops and the land. Back in the nineties, companies decided to start making chocolate bilbies (Australian bandicoot) instead of chocolate rabbits.
Pairing top tip
If you’re looking for something to sip with a chocolate bilby, you could do much worse than one of Australia’s many excellent sweet, fortified wines. Muscats from Rutherglen in Victoria are probably the easiest to find outside of Australia and offer incredible flavours of dried fruit, honey and orange peel.
As people from all over the world celebrate by enjoying local and traditional dishes, we hope that our top tips can help you make better decisions about pairing the right wines.