Fire up the souvla, it’s almost time for Easter! As you’re preparing your Easter menu, don’t forget to pair the wine. Like every holiday or Sunday, in a Greek home, the Easter table is loaded with seemingly endless foods.
Greek Easter needs Greek wines. Here are the best wines to choose from for your Easter meal based on what you’re serving.
Light White Wines for Easter Appetizers
The best wines to serve while your guests are enjoying appetizers and mezedes are light with crisp acidity. Light wines won’t overwhelm the palate and bright acidity will have your mouth watering for more food. Several Greek white wines fit the bill. Try a floral Moschofilero to pair with tyropitakia and magiritsa or a modern Retsina with skordalia and tzatziki. A Vidiano from Crete will pair beautifully with spanakopita, dolmadakia, and salads.
Moschofilero is the pride of the Peloponnese. The grape’s berries are pinkish-purple but it is almost exclusively made into a white wine. As the name suggests, Moschofilero is very aromatic. It smells like orange blossoms, peaches, and white flowers and tastes like lemon tarts and orange. Its bright acidity makes it a great aperitif wine.
Recommended Moschofilero: Troupis “Hoof & Lur,” Bosinakis Winery
In the last decade or so, Retsina has seen a major overhaul. A few high-quality wineries throughout Greece have stepped up their Retsina game to improve the reputation and drinkability of this uniquely Greek wine. Retsina is a still white wine that has been flavored with pine sap. Instead of the turpentine and shoe polish Retsinas of the past, the new modern Retsina is delicious. Winemakers are using high-quality grapes and high-quality retsini from Aleppo pine trees.
Recommended Retsina: Papagiannakos Winery, Kechris “Tear of the Pine”
Vidiano is the shooting star of Crete. It was a nearly forgotten grape variety that has won the hearts of every winery across the island. A versatile grape it does well both as a light crisp wine and an oak-aged wine. Vidiano’s flavor profile of lemon, peach, and herbs makes it an excellent match with vegetables.
Recommended Vidiano: Malihin-Chryssos “Young Vines”, Karavitakis “Klima”
Red Wine for Easter’s Main Meal, Plus a White Wine Option
Typically on Greek Easter guests are full before the main course has even been served, but that doesn’t mean you should neglect the main course pairing.
A traditional table will include lamb, more lamb, pilafi, lemon potatoes, boureki, pastitsio, moussaka, and more lamb: enough to feed the whole neighborhood.
Focus on the main meat dish: lamb. The best wines to serve are wines with body and acidity. Xinomavro and Agiorgitko are two Greek red wines that are perfect with lamb. Syrah or Syrah blends are another great option that you find throughout Greece.
If you’d like to serve a white wine with the main course, Assyrtiko is a bold enough white wine to pair with meat.
Xinomavro grows in Northern Greece, mainly in Naoussa, Goumenissa, and Amydeon. Its name translates to “sour black.” Xinomavro’s high acidity and structured tannins are why it pairs so well with lamb. It has aromas of tomato leaf, rose, and strawberries. You may want to decant a bottle of Xinomavro before serving.
Recommended Xinomavro: Thymiopoulos Xinomavro, Tatsis Goumenissa
Agiorgitiko hails from Nemea in the Peloponnese and is the most widely planted red grape variety. Agiorgitiko is a crowd-pleaser with its fruity profile and soft tannins. It will pair well with all the food that is served for Greek Easter.
Recommended Agiorgitiko: Barafakas “Apocalypsis”, Nasiako
Internationally, one of the best pairings with lamb is the French grape Syrah. Thankfully Syrah grows very well all over Greece, from the far north to the southern islands. Syrah is full-bodied with loads of black pepper spice to match with the lamb’s seasoning.
Recommended Syrah: Manousakis Winery “Alexandra’s”, Nerantzi Syrah
If there was ever a white wine that pairs beautifully with lamb, it’s Assyrtiko. Assyrtiko grows famously in Santorini, but bottlings are found all over Greece. This white grape has searing acidity that cuts through the high fat content of lamb. It also has plenty of lemon flavors to match the roast lamb with lemon potatoes. A full-bodied Assyrtiko, like those aged in oak barrels, is the best choice.
Recommended Assyrtiko: Hatzidakis “Nykteri”, Wine Art Estate “Idisma Drios”
Don’t forget the dessert wine!
Muscat of Samos is a great choice to pair with tsoureki and koulourakia. Too full for dessert? Vin Santo from Santorini is a dessert within itself.
About the author
Anna Maria Kambourakis is a Massachusetts native. In Chicago, she studied wine and became a Certified Sommelier. Anna Maria has been active in the Greek wine industry for many years and is its biggest cheerleader. In 2013, she took the giant leap to move to her ancestral home of Crete. There, she owns Chania Wine Tours and has established herself as a leader of wine tourism on the island. Anna Maria delights in sharing wine stories with her guests on her tours and to the world through her writing. For more wine and food pairing tips, follow her new blog Unraveling Wine.
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