Easter eggs

Okay, as far as the world’s great food and wine matches go – Port with Stilton, Champagne with Oysters – wine with Easter eggs may seem a little obscure. Yet matching wine with chocolate is one of the trickier wine and food pairing propositions, and Easter Sunday is often a day when some good wines are opened. I have a friend who starts each Easter Sunday with a glass of sparkling Shiraz and his first chocolate egg of the season, so I thought I’d investigate which wines go best with Easter’s favourite chocolate treat.

xI lined-up a variety of wines that I hoped might make for interesting matches, and for the choccie eggs I turned to the beautifully presented, upmarket range made by Rita Farhi and available in Waitrose, John Lewis, Selfridges, House of Fraser and Partridges stores amongst others.These are Easter eggs with a rather adult appeal, made as a fresh ‘collection’ each spring and featuring fillings like mocha, hazelnut and pistachio, with the ‘crunch’ series in hard sugar shells.

My first wine-matching proposition was with a fizz, in this case Berry Bros & Rudd’s own-label Blanquette de Limoux. Lovely with Farhi’s hollow chocolate eggs, but only a partial success with the delicious sugar-coated eggs, where the rich, dark, nutty chocolate fillings melded beautifully with the fruitiness of the wine, but the sweetness of the shells and the dry, apple acidity of the wine rather butted heads. I moved on to a second wine with a gentle fizz, but this time from Italy: Michele Chiarlo’s gorgeous ‘Nivole’ Moscato d’Asti.

Now this was food matching heaven, with the sweetness and soft pillow of bubbles creating a glorious mélange with the chocolate. The sugar shells also worked much better with the sweetness of this wine, the whole effect being crunchy and vivacious in the mouth. And so I moved on to wine number three: a contrast this time, with the big, rich, sweet-fruited style of the Bethany Grenache from Australia.

With Farhi’s milk chocolate egg this was really quite successful, developing into a rich, creamy, chocolate and dark, rich fruit compote effect in the mouth. With the hard sugar-coated eggs once again there was a little clash between the crunchy sweetness of the sugar and the tannin and acidity of the wine, though that is relatively low in this bottle. Maybe an even bigger, less oaky and more fruity example would have faired better, and so onto the final wine of this little experiment, the Taylor’s First Estate Port.

This was another heavenly match with the creamy chocolate of Farhi’s hollow Easter eggs, where the combination was velvety in texture and deeply creamy in flavour in the mouth. With the hard sugar-coated eggs this worked pretty well too – particularly with the hazelnut crunch centre, where the sweetness and nuttiness played to sympathetic notes in the wine. Yummy.

So there we have it. If I had to choose one wine to serve to your loved one on Easter morning as breakfast in bed (breakfast including an Easter egg naturally), I’d probably plump for the Moscato d’Asti from Nivole. Not only was it a delicious match for the choccie eggs, but the 5.5% alcohol should ensure an indulgent day, all the way through to bed time.