Tasting notes: Spring selection
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Which wines are best for Easter and spring dishes? Broadland Wineries’ Director of Wine, Dr Arabella Woodrow shares her wine-matching wisdom
EASTER SIGNIFIES the arrival of spring, and with it new ideas for food and drink after the long winter. We don’t eat the same dishes every day of the year, and similarly we don’t always want to drink the same wines. With the onset of spring we look more to white and rosé wine than heavy reds and fortified wines.
The holiday weekend is an excellent opportunity to look for some interesting bottles to complement Easter fare. I am not so much thinking of hot cross buns or Easter eggs (but more about chocolate later!) as starters and main dishes for lunch or supper.
April sees the start of the asparagus season in Britain. As the season only lasts for two months I try to eat asparagus as often as I can so have had plenty of opportunity to work out what wines match, and which to avoid. White wine, or a light rosé at a push, is needed here - red wine just doesn’t go. Dry crisp and aromatic wines work best, so I like to sip a fruity Sauvignon Blanc (Chilean or New Zealand are both good matches), while a South African Chenin Blanc, an Italian Pinot Grigio or Pinot Grigio Blush are all great choices. Fuller bodied wines such as Chardonnay or Viognier are better if the asparagus has a rich sauce such as hollandaise with it.
Fresh salmon is always popular at this time of year and again fits best with wines that I would choose for asparagus. Smoked salmon, however, does not suit the aromatic Sauvignon Blanc but is delicious with an oaked Chardonnay as the oaky character marries well with the smoky flavours.
Spring lamb comes in to the shops about now - again something I look forward to every year. While I have been known to drink Pinot Grigio with lamb, red wines really work better as the protein in the meat needs something more substantial, and tannin in the red is softened in turn. For the delicate lamb flavours wine based on Merlot or Cabernet Sauvignon grape varieties work best. Pinot Noir is also a good choice as its lighter style cuts through the fat of the meat, New Zealand or Chilean Pinot Noir are both good value choices. Forget about mint sauce with vinegar or redcurrant jelly, though, if you are cracking open a nice bottle. Mint sauce will completely obliterate the wine flavours while the sweetness of the redcurrant will make the wine taste sour.
Now to chocolate Easter eggs! Not many wines go well with chocolate as it tends to coat the mouth with its smooth, sweet flavours, so light wines just taste sharp and reds taste bitter. At Broadland we are rather partial to chocolate, so we have created a delicious sweet, chocolate flavoured wine called Chocolate Drop which is just the ticket for chocolate desserts and Easter eggs.
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