With Covid restrictions now eased and some sense of normality returning, getting together with family and friends once again is something that is so important to many, if not all of us. Easter Sunday falls on April 17th this year. And we think it’s a great opportunity to celebrate the good things in life - family, friends, good food and good wine. With all this positivity in the air, and the sense of rejuvenation that marks the Easter holiday period, we’ve put together a few wine and food pairing suggestions that will enhance any dinner table.
Traditionally Easter fare in most Irish homes is roast spring lamb, root veg such as carrot and parsnip, roast potatoes and sides of mint jelly and gallons of gravy. The perfect match for lamb has been, and always will be, good quality red Bordeaux; they go together hand in glove. Recently Whelehans Wines shipped a large number of “Petit Château” wines directly from Bordeaux. These are wines that are from lesser known, relatively small, family-run estates that represent fantastic value for money, and offer superb quality and depth of character. They include:
All of the above offer a variation of theme in terms of style. All are blends of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, however the exact make-up and proportion of these blends is dependant upon the location of the vineyards. As a very rough rule of thumb, Cabernet Sauvignon tends to be the dominant variety used in reds from the Left Bank. (Divided by the Gironde estuary, Bordeaux, for convenience, is usually split into Left and Right Bank). Right Bank wines tend to be dominated by Merlot with a smaller proportion of Cabernet Sauvignon in the blend. The rational for deciding upon what grape varieties to plant and use is really a function of location and soil type (Terroir) tradition and also vintage. Other red grapes used in Bordeaux include Cabernet Franc, Malbec and Petit Verdot. However, they tend to take a back seat to the world famous Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.
When we think of red Bordeaux we tend to think of rich dark fruit flavours and good firm tannins (or “structure” if you want to sound in-the-know). These rich wines with good tannic character are the perfect foil to the rich, juicy savoury character of lamb. Proteins and tannins are made for each other and the taste combination is probably the most popular food and wine match I can think of. For many people tannins are seen as a negative. This shouldn’t be the case.
Tannins play a vital role in the make-up of most red wines, and without their presence, along with good acidity, one can be left with a wine that lacks balance or freshness. Tannins can sometimes, in young wines, be harsh to the palate and can dry one’s mouth out (a bit like an over brewed pot of tea). Decanting an hour before serving will soften any tannic harshness, as air contact accelerates artificial aging, making your wine so much more enjoyable. The flip side to this is that tannins work wonderfully with savoury meaty flavours and the dark forest berry fruit flavours work brilliantly with all red meats. If you’re not serving lamb, but rather beef or a cut of pork or even game, Bordeaux red is still your friend and will make your dining experience so much the better.
Along with the “Petit Château” wines listed above, we have also recently shipped some fine wines from Bordeaux. Illustrious names and fantastic recent vintages are now available and include: