Ray Isle (@islewine on Twitter) is Food & Wine's executive wine editor. We trust his every cork pop and decant – and the man can sniff out a bargain to boot. Take it away, Ray.
Easter and ham. Sure, there are plenty of people whose idea of Easter dinner is roasting up an herb–crusted leg of lamb (or chowing down on a bucketful of Peeps), but if you ask me, ham is the classic Easter food. The rest of the country seems to agree—U.S. ham sales climb to 10 times normal during the week leading up to Easter.
This situation, of course, leads to the question: What wine do you pair with ham? The answer is easier once you know a couple of the basic facts about pairing wine and food, specifically regarding salt.
Salt—and hams are salty—has two main effects on wine. It lowers your perception of acidity, making wines taste less tart than they actually are. And it increases your perception of tannin, potentially making tannic red wines taste somewhat bitter.
So, with white wines, look for a tart white to go with your ham. Big, rich California Chardonnays and similar low-acid whites will end up tasting somewhat insipid when paired with salty foods; try going for something along the lines of a Sauvignon Blanc or dry Riesling instead. For reds, avoid high-tannin varieties like Cabernet and Syrah; instead pick softer, lower-tannin reds like Barbera from Italy, Pinot Noir or Beaujolais.
Here are five good choices as the Easter weekend approaches.
2012 Giocato Pinot Grigio ($12)
So crisp it’s almost tingly—a good thing—this minerally Pinot Grigio is a serious bargain. It comes from Slovenia, just across the border from Italy’s famed Pinot Grigio–producing Friuli region.
2013 Real Compañía de Vinos Blanco ($13)
Bright and green apple–scented, this unoaked Spanish white is made with the Macabeo grape (also known as Viura), common to the Rioja region.
2013 Pedroncelli Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc ($14)
Lemon-grapefruity in character, this Sonoma white skips the grassy notes more common to New Zealand–style Sauvignons.
2012 Montevina Amador County Barbera ($12)
A California interpretation of this northern Italian red grape, Montevina’s bright, berry-inflected bottlings comes from vineyards in the foothills of the Sierras.
2012 Sebastiani Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir ($19)
The cool, foggy Sonoma Coast climate gives this balanced Pinot a lot of vibrant, red cherry flavor.
More from Food & Wine:
Delicious Ham Recipes
26 Ways To Make Lamb
Fantastic Carrot Cake Recipes
Fast Lamb Chops
More Easter on Eatocracy:
How to confront a country ham
The perfect wine for lamb, ham and eggs
Chilling with my Peeps - make Peeps ice cream at home
Upgrade your Easter candy
Everybunny loves beer
Hop on these Easter wines
Slovak soul food – Paska for Easter
The bitter truth behind the chocolate in your Easter basket
Easter candy overload!
Easter lamb: It's Greek to me
Vintage egg cocktails for Easter afternoon and evening
© 2011 American Express Publishing Corporation. All rights reserved.
Yesterday, everyone in the grocery store was by the lamb case, not the ham case. So I'm looking for some lambtastic beverage!
Try a Lambrusco. Or a Lambic beer.
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