PA Wine Pairings for Your Virtual Easter or Passover

This spring holiday season, we’re forging new traditions. Families across the country will be gathering in fresh configurations and using technology to stay connected.

While you prep for your Zoom Passover seder, log on to a live stream of Easter Mass, or FaceTime a friend to send good wishes, keep the menu classic — seasonal staples will offer a taste of joy and comfort.

A classic menu provides a welcome opportunity to get creative when it comes to the beverages. We’ve gone ahead and paired traditional holiday foods with Pennsylvania wines, which you can get by ordering online or picking up curbside at your favorite winery. It’s a win-win: Introduce something delicious to your meal AND support local businesses.

For Easter:

Hot Cross Buns paired with Sparkling Vidal Blanc

There has never been a better time to bake. These sweet yeasted rolls, dotted with dried fruit and topped with icing, will be a welcome addition to your Easter lunch/brunch spread. Another welcome addition: a bottle of dry, effervescent Vidal Blanc. Crisp and invigorating, this sparkling wine will bring the spirit of celebration and allow the sweetness of the buns to shine.

Braised Lamb Shanks with Lentils and Tomato Sauce paired with Pinot Noir

Lamb on the table is a harbinger of spring and there are about a million ways to prepare it, from grilled chops to braised shoulder to formal roasted rack. But we’re partial to this easy, homestyle dish that can be adjusted for any number of eaters. Just cook up a stew of aromatics, lentils, and canned tomatoes in a Dutch oven. Then add the shanks and braise the whole thing in the oven until the meat falls off the bone. Pick a lighter red like Pinot Noir with a big dose of earthiness to underline the gamey-ness, acid, and depth of the dish.

Honey-baked Ham paired with Riesling

Ham today! Ham sandwiches tomorrow! Ham and eggs forever! A honey-baked ham is a gift that keeps on giving and giving and giving, providing enough sustenance to last for eight nights — wait, we might be mixing up the holidays. No matter how many mouths you’re feeding, there’s no reason to forgo this tradition. Hey, you can even freeze ham cubes for your future soup needs. We like a wine with a combination of residual sweetness and high acidity here. Try an off-dry Riesling. The cold white will really make the salt and sugar of the ham sing.

Spring Vegetable Quiche paired with Sauvignon Blanc

Eggs are another ingredient synonymous with Easter. Pick up some vegetables that say spring — asparagus, ramps, peas, new potatoes — and toss them into a rich mixture of eggs and cream. If you’ve never made pastry from scratch, give it a go (though the pie shells from the supermarket are A-OK, too). Bring out the grassy notes of the produce with a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc; its high acidity will also activate the taste buds, doing the same thing that a squirt of lemon does to cooked veggies.

For Passover:

A quick note that we’ll be focusing on Pennsylvania wines, which are not kosher. But even if your family keeps a kosher home, we hope the varieties listed below can still inspire you.

Gefilte Fish paired with Concord

A pantry item that requires no cooking and no prep — besides a healthy dollop of horseradish on the side — this is an ideal starter for folks stuck away from their favorite family cooks. One slightly kitschy Jewish classic deserves another: Eschew the Manischewitz for a Pennsylvania-made Concord wine. Grape-y and sweet, this native varietal will provide a shot of sunshine and pair well with the spicy horseradish.

Matzo Ball Soup paired with Rosé

Honestly, this comfort food is welcome on any day of social distancing, but it’s a requirement at the Passover table. Add some schmaltz (chicken fat) to the matzo ball mixture for extra flavor, and be sure to make your stock from scratch. A sprinkling of fresh dill also goes a long way. Something so warm and savory calls for a wine that’s cold, dry, and fruit-forward. Grab a Pennsylvania rosé lauded for its berry notes.

Roasted Chicken with Lemon and Fresh Herbs paired with Saperavi

Roast whole birds or a few pieces on a bed of onions, occasionally basting with a slurry of olive oil, herbs, lemon juice, and lemon zest. It will be simple and delicious. Serve the chicken with potatoes or rice to soak up the juices and a bottle of Saperavi. Originally from the country of Georgia, this full-bodied wine has a lot going on — high acid, bold tannins, dark fruit flavors, and earthy notes — making it a great wine for the peak of the meal.

Coconut Macaroons paired with Port-style Wine

Set out a plate of chewy, flour-free coconut macaroons and then pour everyone a dessert wine glass full of Port-style wine. The fortified sipper — which can be made from grown-in-PA grapes such as Chambourcin, Cabernet Franc, and Cayuga — is indulgent and complex. It will be restorative alongside a sweet treat, post-seder singing, and epic conversation that stretches into the night. Raise a glass, whether you’re in person or simply connected. L’Chaim!