The Easter holiday is fast approaching, and so is the pressure to go shopping and pick out the perfect wine to go with your feast. As if the rest of the to-do list weren’t enough! Trying to match the right wine to your meal can cause so much stress it makes you want to dive head first into the Peeps and jelly beans! If you’re putting out the wine S.O.S. signal, I see you, and I’m here to help. Deep breaths, ahhhh.
First of all, banish the word perfect from your wine vocabulary, and replace it with great. Trying to find the perfect wine pairing sounds like too much pressure and highly unrealistic. But a great pairing, that is doable!
If you’re doing something traditional along the lines of ham, lamb, or salmon, you need to set your sights on delightful, drinkable Pinot Noir. Pinot Noir is one red wine that will go beautifully with all three of these proteins. While no two Pinots are exactly the same, in general this is what you will get from a glass of Pinot Noir and why it is a consummate pairing wine for so many foods:
- Light to medium body, although some verge on medium to hinting at full-bodied, depending on things like climate, weather, region, etc. The body of a wine should match the “weight” or heaviness, of a food in your mouth.
- Subtle, integrated, elegant tannins that don’t clash or compete with the texture of the food.
- Moderate acidity. A wine needs to be more acidic than the food at hand, so this is a great option for pairing that won’t get lost in your mouth.
Fair warning: I prefer my Pinots to have more heft, fullness, and richness than some, so if you err on the side of super light-bodied Pinots with ultra-delicate aromas and flavors, these might not be up your alley. When I drink wine, I want to taste wine, not fruity water, right?
Anyway, here are two Pinot Noirs (one from Washington and one from Oregon) that I really admire and that deserve a spot on your Easter table. The Washingtonian clocks in at $27/bottle and the Oregonian at $35/bottle. Both are delicious wines and excellent values for their quality tiers.
For the Oregon selection: I tasted the Pike Road 2019 Corrine Vineyard Pinot Noir at the McMinnville Wine + Food Classic this past month. It is $35/bottle and utterly delicious! The grapes are from the Chehalem Mountains AVA, and the Corrine Vineyard was planted in 1989 at the intersection of marine and volcanic soils. The vineyard is a “warmer site for Pinot Noir, producing intense fruit, heady aromatics, and lots of structure.” Yum! You can “expect wines with a big ripe core of concentrated fruit and a bright, fresh profile” with red fruit, spice, and floral tones. Sounds lovely.
For the Washington selection: who else but Skagit Crest Vineyard & Winery? All of their Pinot Noir is estate grown and produced. I have tried the 2016, 2017, and 2018 vintages, all side by side, and all are completely different wines. I love each one for different reasons. Right now I’m drawn to the 2017 Pinot Noir, with its “red fruit, rose hips, forest floor and spice rack components, framed by raspberry tea tannins and lemon oil.” We will most likely be opening this up Easter night.
I asked Owner and Winemaker Chuck Jackson what he would recommend, and while he said either vintage would go well with any of the meats, he would opt for the 2017 Pinot Noir with darker meats & heavier seasonings and the 2018 Pinot Noir with lighter meats & less intense seasonings. He would definitely choose the 2018 Pinot Noir for lamb. This beauty has elegant, subtle fruit and spice in the vein of Burgundian Pinot Noir, and is drinking round and balanced right now.
There are tons of great wines out there – so dang many. Don’t get hung up on finding the ultimate “perfect” pairing for your particular food, because there is definitely more than one wine that will work with your food. Some may be more wonderful than others, but it’s a fun chance to learn.
Obviously you can pair more than just Pinot Noir with these foods, but I hope you see the broad appeal and versatility of this grape, and why it can work so well with so many foods.
What wines have you enjoyed pairing with ham, lamb, or salmon? Tell me about it in the comments. One can never have too many good food and wine pairing ideas!