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Wine for Easter

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If you are like many people, you have your Easter menu planned well in advance, or in most cases, you have a traditional family meal that’s always prepared. But with all the advanced preparations, have you thought to chose  the right wine to accompany your meal? Now, the “right wine” is subjective. It’s all a matter of personal preference. Some of you may only prefer a sweeter style white wine, and some only drink red. We have some suggestions to satisfy those differentiating palettes at your dinner table.

If you are serving ham this Easter, there are numerous wines you could serve. Many people choose a sweet topping or glaze to counter the saltiness of the meat. In that case, a Riesling or a Gewürztraminer are going to be your best option. Both wines have a dry fruitiness that is both refreshing and palette cleansing. The sweet, round mouth-feel compliments any sweetness in the topping and the acidity will balance the salt of the meat. If you prefer a dryer style Riesling, try a Washington State Barnard Griffin Riesling $13 or Charles Smith Kung Fu Girl $17. For a more fruit forward, sweeter style Riesling, try an Alsatian or German Riesling such as Fritz’s Riesling $14. For a lighter, aromatic and elegant Gewürztraminer, try Villa Wolf Gewürztraminer $15. If you are a Chardonnay drinker, try a lightly oaked style like White Rock Chardonnay $32.50.

For the red wine drinkers, depending on how you present your ham, you could pair either a Zinfandel or a Pinot Noir. With the sweet glazed ham, a red fruit forward, low tannin Zinfandel would handle well, such as Axis Zinfandel $15. For a spicily prepared ham with cloves and herbs, an Oregon Pinot Noir would be fantastic. Try Archery Summit Premier Cuvee $48.

Lamb and sheep are often associated with spring. Maybe it’s the fact they give birth in the spring to wobbly little babies and springtime in itself is associated with new life. In any case, lamb is another popular choice for Easter dinner. Lamb is a fairly robust meat and should be paired accordingly with a red wine that can handle its full flavors. This wine should have decent tannins, a fair amount of fruit and a lengthy finish that won’t be overpowered by the meat. There are a number of red wines that can accomplish all of those qualifications, from a Cabernet to a Malbec, Merlot and Tempranillo. Try

Jax Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley $40
Volver Tempranillo, La Mancha, Spain $16
Stags’ Leap Winery Merlot, Napa Valley $22

Argento Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina $12

If you are feeling that you really want to get in the spirit of Easter and embrace the roots of Easter’s Israeli heritage, try a kosher wine from Israel – Recanati Chardonnay and Recanati Cabernet Sauvignon $17 each from Galilee. The Chardonnay is a California style oaked style with a smooth buttery finish. Their Cabernet is fruit forward with soft tannins, easily paired with the traditional lighter dishes of Easter.

Monticelli Brothers – Bending the Rules

These days, with so many wine makers trying to differentiate themselves, the Monticelli Brothers are no exception…or are they? Mario and Massimo Monticelli have done something that bends the rules – that extend past the guidelines of traditional wine making. Their non-vintage blend encompasses three years of harvest and can be described as Bordeaux meets Chianti in a bottle. This blend was named after their great uncle Rolando, who taught them the Italian art of blending multiple vintages. With uncle Rolando’s help and a unconventional combination of Cabernet, Merlot and Sangiovese, they created a California wine like no other. The Rolando Rosso holds the smooth maturity of an older vintage, and the fruit of youth. This wine is a blend of 50% grapes from 2000, 25% from 2001 and 25% from 2002. The Monticelli Brothers settled on a medley of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 10% Sangiovese, 5% Cab Franc and 5% Petit Verdot, making it both complex and one of a kind. Because of their originality and ability to carry over at least 50% of the same grapes from the previous production, you will find each new release more consistent, year after year, then a single vintage blend.
Monticelli Brothers Rolando Rosso, Napa Valley – $36

Wine With Your Burger?

The return of blue skies and sunshine means dusting off the grill for a backyard BBQ. And with Five Guys as our neighbors, more often than not we see people looking to pair wine with their burger and fries. This conjures up images of that scene from Sideways where Paul Giamatti is sitting in the burger joint with his 1961 Cheval Blanc, wolfing down a juicy cheeseburger. Obviously that is not what we are suggesting, but we would like to share with you some pairings should you choose to enjoy with either a Five Guys burger or simply throwing some patties on the grill to share with family and friends at home.

The perception has always been beer with burgers, but with gourmet foodies have been changing the image of the burger as we know it. Think –  bleu cheese & bacon, green chili & swiss, olives & feta, caramelized onion, mushroom stuffed, lemon & garlic Aioli with avocado, sweet potato fries, etc. With a multitude of flavors and a solid backing of red meat, why not pair with your favorite Cabernet, Zinfandel or Merlot?

Ladera Cabernet Sauvignon 2006 – $30

Pair this one with your heartiest burger – chili burger with a heavy dose of sharp cheddar cheese, Southern style BBQ sauce with caramelized onions, or splurge with a topping of sliced foie gras and truffles.

Duckhorn Merlot 2006 – $40

The blend of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot make this a complex, elegant wine with intense fruits and soft tannins. Pair this with a lightly topped burger, perhaps with just a sampling of some good cheese – try mild cheeses like Brie or goat cheese.

Don’t eat red meat? Try:

Van Duzer Pinot Noir Rose – $15

This dry style, fruit forward rose will pair perfectly with a chicken or ground turkey burger. Top your chicken burger with whole green chilis, Southwestern style Thousand Island, swiss cheese and guacamole. With your ground turkey try a cranberry chutney with Gorgonzola.

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