A Basketful of Wine Recommendations for Easter

We love drinking wine at Easter time. And we're not talking about communion wine. Easter is a holiday known for its amazingly diverse varieties of "brunch." This often includes everything from quiche and lamb to ham and fruit. Choosing a wine for Easter is not for the faint of heart.

So we asked Valley restaurant chefs and wine experts to weigh in on what to purchase. If you're attending an Easter meal as a guest, wine is a totally appropriate gift for the hosts.

Joe Busone is the owner of a locally owned neighborhood gem Fired Up Grill. Busone says, "A lighter style of Malbec works well with lamb because the acidity cuts through the fattiness, while the sweetness of meat works in harmony with the fruit. I would also serve the combination of Red Bordeaux for a more rustic taste on the simple cuts of lamb including loin chops and racks of lamb. For Easter ham dishes, I would serve a fruity yet dry, Riesling with a rich texture."

See also: - Easter Brunch Roundup - 10 Easter Dining Options at Metro Phoenix Restaurants

He also recommends Massimo Malbec from Mendoza, Argentina ($8 to $10/bottle); Black Stallion Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley ($24.99/bottle); Bordeaux Chateau La Papeterie St. Emilion ($24.99/bottle) and a great crowd-pleaser Chateau Ste. Michelle Dry Riesling ($8 to $12/bottle)

Alliance Beverage Distributing Company's Sarah Shneider's recommendations vary by the type of dish being served. For egg dishes, keep it light. If you're serving quiche, she recommends a mimosa of Stellina di Notte Prosecco and OJ or a glass of Provenance Sauvignon Blanc. With a frittata dish, the choices are a bit bolder -- try Chalone Pinot Blanc, Stellina di Notte Pinot Grigio or Chalone Estate Chardonnay.

If pork is being served, try a merlot such as Sterling Napa Valley Merlot or Provenance Napa Valley Merlot.

Luciano Frascarelli, assistant GM and "wine man" at Taggia at Kimpton's FireSky Resort and Spa, paired some whites and reds that work well with lamb or ham, including Cecchi 'Litorale' Vermentino- Toscana Italy; Benzinger - Chardonnay- Carneros California (whites) and Terre De Trinci 'Sagrantino di Montefalco' Umbria, Italy; Sartori-Amarone-della valpolicella, Italy and Etude Pinot Noir-Carneros, California (reds).

If you're willing to spend between $25 and $40 on a bottle, Sassi Restaurant's sommelier, Stephen Plunkett, recommends starting light with "Moscato d'Asti: slightly sweet but also bright and clean with flavors of peach and apricot." Moscato D'Asti, Vietti 2011 is on Sassi's wine list and retails for about $25.

With seafood, pasta with vegetables or mild cheeses, he recommends "fresh, intense wines with flavors of citrus, grapefruit, smoke and herbs," like Sauvignon Blanc Ronco della Melle, Venica and Venica 2010 from Sassi's wine list, about $40 at a wine store.

For heavier items like meats, pasta with tomato sauce, or chocolate desserts, he likes a medium-bodied red wine, with a hint of cherry like Barbera D'Asti Camp du Rouss, Coppo 2010, which retails about $35.

Sarah Falconer, wine sommelier of Del Frisco's Grille, has some suggestions for wines to pair with Easter dinner for $50 and up:

"Lighter body Italian red wines go great with lamb. They offer some nice spice as well as earthy notes," she says. Try Gaja Barolo DaGromis, Barolo DOCG, Italy ($155) or 2008 Franco Serra Barbaresco DOCG, Piedmont, Italy ($48).

For whites, she recommends going with a clean, crisp Pinot Grigio like Jermann Pinot Grigio 2010 Pinot Grigio ($55) which has great acidity and minerality.

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Kate Crowley
Contact: Kate Crowley