Easter and the rebirth of the Wine
This period is crucial for wine as it was for Jesus. We are celebrating his resurrection after a pause of meditation in the sepulcher, and the same does the wine.
During April wine usually tries to reach its balance; after the vinification and some months of aging in the cellars, it’s time to taste the wine to see if it’s ready to come back to the Light. The transition is equally traumatic, because it’s a sort of rebirth: only now, after the shock of being racked, filtrated and then bottled, its destiny will be decide.
The lamb is the king of every Easter menu. But we should ask ourselves how we want to prepare our lamb, because the lamb is a staple food spread all over the world. From Mediterranean countries to New Zealand, passing through Patagonia, there’s a global, but unique, selection of meat, thanks to more than 200 breeds, so let’s tackle some lamb recipes from the world to replace the usual roasted lamb.
Lamb Tajine (طاجين) with dried plums and almonds
It’s a dish to give serious consideration to revive our table. Intense flavors, spiced—ginger, cinnamon and saffron—where the tangy flavor of the lamb marries the plum and onions’ sweetness, with which must cook very slowly. The result is incredibly delicious, you can feel the meat melting in your mouth and the plums add a sober roundness to the plate, making it balanced and elegant, especially if you bring the tajine to the table. There’s just one caveat: let’s add some sesame or almonds that will help with a bitter hint. Which wine should we pair with this delicious lamb dish? You need steady tannins, a mighty body and a bevy of spices that can back up those on the dish, therefore a three-four years old wine should works fine. Montepulciano, from Pietrantonj Winery, Abruzzi. A sumptuous wine that, besides a fruity generosity refined by a superb oaking, expresses stylistic rigor and depth, with plenty of coffee, violet jelly and autumn leaves aromas punctuating a moonlight of spices.
It means roasted on a open fire, usually referring to a whole lamb put on a spit and cooked slowly until is tender like butter. But in our case better to limit ourselves to a handy leg. It’s the traditional dish of the Eid al-Adha (عيدالأضحى), the day of the sacrifice, to commemorate the sacrifice of Ishmael that Abraham was going to do to please God. This doesn’t sound like a big deal: the art of grilling is spread all over the world, so what does make it so special? It’s the marinade, because the meat must rest for a full night in the Chermoula, one of the most precious gift of the Maghreb cuisine. Normally it’s made with olive oil, garlic, cumin, lemon juice and zest (not the white one, because is bitter), cilantro and onions. But let’s come back to the lamb: after the marinade, our tiny lamb is ready to graze in the pit. After the roasting miracle, the transformation is amazing: simple nevertheless incredibly rich, with plenty of shades that will seduce your tongue. The meat keeps all its juice and in the meanwhile the wild, pungent flavor of the lamb is tamed. Accordingly, the chosen wine must have a rocky body and a lot of balsamic freshness to support all the spicy waves of the recipe, but keep an eye on the whole piquancy, because of pepper and Harissa, which is often served with Mechoui. Sangiovese Pradello, from Monticino winery, Colli di Imola. Earth, truffles, fern, flint, pine bark. After a shower of fruits and flowers in alcohol, here come a melody of sweet, creamy spices, exuberant, but well toned: they do not scratch the fruit freshness and a wonderful saltiness that accompanies the tannin towards immortality.
Agnello cacio e ova
Lamb with Pecorino cheese and eggs. Simple as that. You can prepare this recipe, from Abruzzo, in few minutes. Roast the lamb in pan with olive oil, garlic, pepper and a sprinkle of salt, after a couples of minutes deglaze with a cup of wine and when it’s ready put in the beaten eggs with the Pecorino cheese and make the magic happens. A sprig of rosemary adds a welcome touch. The wine to be paired with this rustic lamb dish is of course a Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, from Praesidium winery. A great wine, with an initial burst of crashed black cherries, anise, thyme and currants, that seems perfect for the creaminess of the eggs. Pushed by an electrifying acidity and rounded by the right dose of spices—cinnamon, clove and above all pepper—this Montepulciano is the right wine to bridle these few, but zestful, ingredients. The fact that it is a highly and deliberately organic wine bring to the table that particular snappy, rebel soul that makes the wine blazingly unpredictable: it seems that it must escape from the glass at any moment.
This is the apotheosis of the Lamb. Conceptually similar to the Parmigiana recipe, but among the eggplant layers somehow have sneaked some stewed meat, tomato sauce, onions, parsley and a touch of cinnamon. A seal of Besciamella (white sauce), flavored with a couples of bay leaves, is put on the top. The wine to be paired have to resist to the fatty background and at the same time blend with the tomato, get along with the spices and not to be too tannic to tilt the aubergines. The Corallo Nero, from Gallegati winery. A proud wine from Romagna that knows hot to combine a warm soul—a dream of red fruit jam—and a roaring freshness that keeps the wine always straight. On your palate resonate nuances of rhubarb, radish, tamarind, humus, pine resin, juniper, eucalyptus and cherry pie, all in a tantalizing balance that will fit marvelously with the texture of the eggplants.
Delightfully simple, with a marinade of garlic, lemon, olive oil, mint and oregano, but you can thrown in all the herbs you prefer to create your own marinade. And is the marinade to dictate the tempo to the wine. If you prefer a more tangy marinade with nutmeg and cumin let’s pair a full flavored Syrah, crossed by vanilla and cocoa flushes and with a fruit undertone flashing orange marmalade and cherry jelly: the 2009 Cortona Syrah il Bosco, from Tenimenti Luigi d’Alessandro, is the right one. Otherwise, if you like a not so racy marinade and more freshness for you Souvlaki, maybe paired with a splash of Tzatziki, you could bet on a cutting wine like the 2009 Noto Nero d’Avola Patrono: zappy, highlighted by precious sticks of cinnamon, licorice and wild bushes of thyme, incense, black tea and propelled by a skyrocketing acidity featuring a marvelous potpourri that make you dream about the Arabian Nights.