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Sips 'n Tips: Easter and spring a time to lighten up

Out of the darkness of the pandemic, we're coming into a time of lightness. Keep that in mind when planning your holiday or spring meals.
AlisonEasterColumn
For all things Easter and spring--even chocolates!, there's a wine to pair with it. Photo: Alison Phillips

I am writing this article on the first day of spring.  After a long Alberta COVID-19 winter, the days filled with more light and warmth are very welcome indeed.  The physical act of shedding heavy clothes, opening windows and spring-cleaning help one’s mood lighten as well.  So, it seems my unintended theme is “Lightness”.

Accepting “the lightness of being” means to accept a lack of certainty of the ultimate meaning in life and live for momentary beauty. Not easy, and more important now than ever.

Through the past year, we’ve had to adjust to cope, survive, get through.  Always a planner, being content to live in the moment has been my biggest lesson learned.  Seeking pleasure and beauty in nature and small gestures have caused me to “tune in” and not “tune out”.  This small change has provided a sense of calm in a time of heightened anxiety.  

With springtime comes Easter (Sunday April 4) and Passover.  Steeped in traditions and rituals, both holidays offer all a time to rejuvenate and embrace the meaning of hope in our lives. 

Wine was part of the Passover Seder and at The Last Supper.  With a broad choice of culinary selections and smaller gatherings likely again this year, here are some suggestions on what to pair with your spring, Easter, or Passover meals.

Prosecco--Like a little black dress, Prosecco goes with everything, at any time of year!  It’s bright, light, happiness and celebration in a bottle.  It makes a great aperitif before a meal with a few nibbles, or even paired with desserts for afterwards.  One of my personal favourites involves very little cooking--Prosecco and popcorn--a match made in heaven!

If you have traditional foods like ham and scalloped potatoes, choose a crisp Alsatian-style white wine.  I’m thinking Pinot Gris or Grigio, even a Gewürztraminer or Ehrenfelzer work well.  The acidity and crispness of the wines will be a great foil for the ham and potatoes more fatty components.  A crisp Rose from Provence, France would be very nice too. 

Roast Lamb is a delicious spring meal, accompanied by new carrots, potatoes, and minted spring peas. With the stronger flavour of meat, consider a Pinot Noir, slightly chilled, or a Syrah or Shiraz if you’re barbecuing the meat.  A robust and fruity Spanish or Australian Grenache would also work nicely with the meal.     

Roast chicken or turkey and all the trimmings calls for a Chardonnay, oaked or unoaked depending on your preference. A French Viognier would handle the variety of sides on the menu too.  I personally enjoy a South African Chenin Blanc as it offers a balance of acidity and juicy fruit flavours. For a red choice, a Cote de Rhone blend, or Chateau Neuf du Pape would also pick up the tempo of the meal.

If you decide to forgo cooking a fancy meal and just want to dive into the chocolates, we understand!  – here’s some perfect pairings for those too!

Cadbury Cream Eggs--Prosecco

Lindt Milk Chocolate Bunny--Zinfandel

Reeses Peanut Butter Eggs--Pinot Noir

Hershey’s Cookies and Creme Eggs--Demi -Sec Champagne

Peeps--Moscato

Happy spring, Easter, Passover!  Embrace the lightness and be well!  

Alison Phillips is co-owner of Aligra Wine & Spirits at West Edmonton Mall.