If you want to break out of your wine rut and try something fun for Easter, we have the wines for you. And, don’t feel like you can only drink these wines for Easter. Feel free to drink them all year. These wines aren’t your standard fare but they are fun, flirty and funky. These wines are approachable – they don’t need to age in your cellar (or your dark closet) for a few years or decades to be at their best. You can grab them at the wine shop and drink them the minute you get home. In other words, low maintenance.
We know that some of these wines are not the easiest to fine. They live among the “weird” or “unusual”. But, that is what makes them so great. Other than Viognier, these wines are tremendous values for what you get. They zip, have fruit without being fruit bombs and go with a range of foods, from pork to chicken to pasta to sushi. For those of you that live in larger urban areas, head to a good wine shop – they are likely to have some of these wines. For those of you that live in smaller or more suburban/rural areas, check winesearcher.com or try some popular wine sites, like winehouse.com or klwines.com.
Here are some picks for fun wine for Easter. Note that these great wines to drink in Spring and Summer.
Passerina – a fun little wine from the Marche region in south-eastern Italy. It supposedly comes in still, sparkling and sweet versions, but I have only seen the still. The lore is that this wine is named after the local sparrows, passero, who love to eat the tiny grapes, ina, resulting in the name of Passerina. Passerina wines have notes of apple, pear, persimmon and a perfume quality of honeysuckle and white flowers. Try the Santa Barbara Marche Bianco IGT Passerina.
Viognier – this lovely varietal hails from the Rhone Valley in France, although it’s origins are thought to lay elsewhere and it was transported to the Rhone by the Romans. Historically, it was grown in a small patch of land in Condreiu. It has expanded beyond it’s historical boundary to other areas in the Northern Rhone, Southern France, the United States and Australia. We say that this wine is lovely because it has a floral, perfume quality and a beautiful mouth feel. Try the Vidal Fleury Cote du Rhone Blanc, which is made predominantly with Viogner and is offered at a steal of a price.
Portugieser – this spicy gem is very popular in Germany and Austria. It’s allegedly named Portugieser because the grapes were supposed to have been brought to Austria from Oporto region of Portugal. But, this tale has never been confirmed. Once established in Austria, it was exported in droves to Germany. While flabby in other regions, this grape retains its acidity in the cool growing regions of Germany and Austria. These fruity wines have low tannins and notes of raspberry, strawberry and currants. Try the Schaffer Portugieser from the Rheinhessen in Germany.
Brachetto – this wine is becoming increasingly popular in its sweet, sparkling form known as Brachetto d’Acqui and is the red cousin of Moscato d’Asti. However, limited quantities are also produced in a dry, still style. And, its delicious. The wine is light bodied, low in tannin, high in acid with notes of strawberry, raspberry, cherry and rose. Interestingly, often 10% of it is used to produce Ruche. Try the Sottimano Mate.
Ruche – this is a wine for lovers of Pinot Noir. The origins of Ruche are unknown. Some theorize that it’s native to Piedmont where it is grown and produced and others say it was brought to Piedmont from Burgundy. Back in the day, the monks moved back and forth between Piedmont and Burgundy, which is one of the reasons that both regions are known for quality and share similar characteristics. Today, Ruche is grown on only 100 acres of land in Piedmont. However, I am sure that once people discover it, that may change. Try the Montalbera Ruche. We purchased it at a fabulous price – we purchased it for $20 a bottle.
Photo courtesy of Montalbera