Other than World Malbec Day on April 17th, this month is special for many reasons. To celebrate, we asked our guest blogger and Wine Guide, Allie Smith, to share her favorite Easter memories, food and wine pairing suggestions!
Easter has always been my favorite holiday! Maybe it’s because I view Easter as the official marker of spring and warmer weather. Maybe it’s because it’s the first major holiday after Christmas and New Years. Or maybe it’s because my Aunt Cindy still makes her famous carrot cookies (Don’t worry, I’ll come back to those later). Whatever the reason, it’s always been a holiday that I look forward to and love to celebrate! What’s most important to me during this time? How my big Italian family celebrates Easter, and which wines we pair with each dish served!
I come from a huge Italian family where all holidays are more like “events” filled with plenty of wine, food, and loud, loving family members. Before my grandparents, Gege and Poppi, passed away- the true end of an era- every holiday was at their house. Every Easter, I distinctly remember walking up the stairs, opening the back door and being greeted by a room full of Italians shouting, “Happy East!” From there, you made your way around the kitchen for warm hugs, kisses, and more “Happy East” from everyone until you made it through the entire group.
In honor of our family traditions, my Aunt Cindy still serves the same meals as my grandmother did before. The love of our family and being together around the holidays is so important to us, so I love how we all strive to keep these traditions alive.
After the many “Happy East!‘s”, my Uncle Chris usually passes around mimosas while we wait for the whole gang to show up. For mimosas, I’d recommend using our newest 2020 Three Hearts, Fizzy White Wine mixed with just a splash of orange juice. This dry, prosecco-styled wine is perfect as a mimosa mixer! Prefer your mimosa sweeter? Use Fissata Blonde, Fizzy White Wine with OJ or pineapple juice instead!
Next, once everyone finally arrives, we gather around the kitchen for a big emotional family prayer and then, we are all seated. Picture this: there is always a “grown-up” table with the older aunts and uncles and an ever popular “kid table”. Even though most of us are in our 20s and 30s now, we still give it that name.
First course is always a charcuterie-styled plate of sliced prosciutto, roasted red peppers, provolone cheese, hard-boiled egg and rabini over a bed of iceberg lettuce. This dish makes me smile because as a picky child, I don’t ever remember eating anything on this plate. Now, as an adult, I am charcuterie-obsessed and look forward to it! With this delicious spread, I would serve a rich and vibrant white, like our latest 2020 Porticina, Malvasia.
Second, we have two selections for the main course. One classic choice is leg of lamb and roasted potatoes with roasted carrots. The lamb and potatoes would pair lovely with an Italian red such as our 2020 Rilassanti, Cabernet Sauvignon or even our 2020 Pearls and Kicks, Rosé. The other option is tortellini with red sauce. I think the tortellini was originally intended for the kids who were too picky to eat the lamb, but we still serve it nonetheless. For tortellini with red sauce, I would serve our other Italian red favorites: 2020 Armatura, Rosso Appassimento or 2020 Avincerre, Marche Rosso, because “what grows together, goes together!” My Aunt Carla also makes her delicious, homemade challah bread to go with this course. As you might imagine, we Italians LOVE bread!
Is your mouth watering yet? Oh, also keep in mind that this meal often takes hours with endless chatting and catching-up in between. The rooms are so loud, filled with laughter and story-telling, it’s just the best. For dessert, we usually have two main options again: my mom’s chocolate eclair cake, or Aunt Cindy’s carrot cookies. Let’s break this down…
The chocolate eclair cake my mom makes, also sometimes known as an “IceBox Cake”, is mouth-watering deliciousness. Picture several layers of french vanilla pudding and graham crackers stacked on top of each other in a sheet pan with chocolate frosting on top. It tastes literally like it sounds- a cake of chocolate eclairs. With this one, I might serve a sweeter red, like our Taffeta, Red Wine Blend.
As an alternate dessert, my Aunt Cindy started making homemade sugar cookies in the shape of carrots with homemade frosting. With this sweet treat, I’d serve something bubbly like our newest Streamer, White Wine Spritzer. Once dessert is over, we always follow with a big Easter egg hunt outside for the newest generation of bambinos, or great grand-children. Enjoy and happy East!
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