Wine makes your festive season full of colours - Food and wine pairings for Easter


Dyed eggs are unmissable around Easter, and in Hungary smoked ham and horseradish are also obligatory elements of the festive menu. Let us have some Hungarian wines as well, since our wines are just as colourful as the easter eggs. From pale silverish yellow through vivid lemon and countless shades of pink to the dark ruby we can enjoy the beauty of our wines, and of course the nose and the palate will give the most of the pleasure.

Rosé season is on!

By easter most of the Hungarian wineries release their new vintage rosé wines; thus, we have a wide range of available pink wines. Rosés are made of black grapes, for example from our most planted black variety called Kékfrankos (aka Blaufrankisch) or from the well-known international grapes like Pinot Noir, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. Rosé wines are usually matured only for a few months in stainless steel to capture the freshness and fruitiness of the grapes – and so that we can enjoy them as early as springtime. It is a joy to drink rosé, through the glass we can see the world pink, rosés are great by themselves – without food – and they are ideal with the salty bites to welcome guests. Also, try having a glass of rosé while dying easter eggs.

Thirsty lambs

Hungarian wine consumption has decreased in recent years. We are not in the top 20 anymore, even though wine is much healthier than ready-to-drink cocktails and sweetened soft drinks. It is also recommended to drink Hungarian wines in Hungary to do something for sustainability: the wines are not shipped from long distances, and we can support the Hungarian wine industry and help save workplaces. The same is true about lamb consumption – lamb used to be the most important type of meat, our shepherd ancestors used lamb for their stew and goulash, but nowadays we seldom cook lamb. We should, especially because we have a particular species bred only here called "racka" but the "normal" lamb gives great meat as well. It is easy to prepare, the simplest way is to place it in the oven with garlic, rosemary and salt & pepper. We can also follow the shepherds and make stew or goulash and we can cook something similar to our southern neighbours in the form of meatballs or sticks grilled on the open fire.

Wine writers agree that Pinot Noir, the famous grape of Burgundy is the best choice for lamb. Don't be surprised at the colour: due to the thin skin of the grape berries, Pinot Noir is pale in colour, just like an easter egg dyed lightly. The elegant taste will make you forget the colour, and due to its delicate taste, it does not overpower the mild flavour of the lamb. If you are lucky enough to spend the Easter holiday in Villány, visit Gere Attila Winery and its Mandula restaurant, where the lamb comes from the own farm of the estate and it is paired with Gere Pinot Noir.

Smoked ham with fireworks

Barrique wine (even white) may be the obvious choice with our traditional easter smoked ham, since ageing in small burnt barrels adds smoky, earthy, tobacco notes to the wine. However Antal Kovács Hungarian sommelier champion (three times, so he holds the title "forever") recommends something else. He refers to the happy marriage of spicy Asian meals and sweet wines, not that the sweetness of the wine could compensate for the hot character of the food, it is more of an exciting contrast. According to him no wine could catch up with smoked ham, therefore it is better to find something extreme, like bubblies – the result can be fireworks in our mouths. This pairing fits in the trend of having a glass of bubbly for breakfast, since most Hungarians enjoy the easter smoked ham for breakfast. Try smoked ham with a glass of Hungarian sparkling wine, even an aerated sparkling wine will do!

Eggs, fertility, happiness

Easter egg is the symbol of the rebirth of nature and fertility – and also one of the biggest enemy of sommeliers, as an article of British wine magazine Decanter explained some years ago. Fiona Beckett renowned British wine writer, and master of food and wine pairing does not see egg as a huge challenge. She believes that most egg meals are perfect with a glass of dry sparkling wine. She prefers Spanish cava or Champagne, but we can try a bottle fermented Furmint from Tokaj or a bottle fermented sparkling wine made from our local Ezerjó grape – it is also great to prepare for the 2nd International Ezerjó Day on 16 May –a great example is made by Frittmann Winery in Kunság.

Easter sprinkling for adults

In Hungary there is a tradition associated with easter: boys visit girls on easter morning and sprinkle them with water or some eau de cologne. It was way more efficient than our today's applications: boys could immediately check the sense of humour of a girl by sprinkling her with a bucket of water and girls could have an immediate impression of the boy's taste through the chosen eau de cologne. Today this tradition is practiced only in the country and mostly by kids to collect sweets and pocket money. Let us revive the tradition in a creative way: visit the girls with a gift, a bottle of wine made of aromatic grapes like Irsai Olivér, Traminer or Cserszegi Fűszeres. These wines are like gardens of flowers captured in a glass. And for the beloved one give a bottle of Tokaji Aszú – she will appreciate the fabulous scent of the wine full of apricot, citruses, candied tropical fruits and much more.

Happy Easter Holidays!