Daily Chronicle

Uncorked: Wine suggestions spice festive Easter menus

Juice Pusher is an extraordinary title to list on a business card.

But that, along with the usual contact information, appears on the card of Advintage Distributing’s Lindsay Smith. In a phone interview to discuss what wines she’s noticed are in demand for Easter, she also settled for the title of sales representative. As the person responsible for filling the blank space on wine store shelves, she has a unique perspective as to what is in demand.

This week, Smith and Paola Embry, the wine director at Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix, offer their tips on selecting wine for Easter brunch or dinner, and detail what trends they’ve spotted in the industry.

“A lot of people are looking for rosé this time of year,” Smith said. “All the northern hemisphere has their fresh vintages coming out, and people are trained this time of year to look for it.”

Embry has checked the books at Wrigley Mansion, and Easter brunch is not your typical weekend dining experience – people are in a more festive mood.

“Now that we are in spring, I love rosé, those are so fun,” Embry said. “I’m thinking for Easter, people drink a lot more. They go to church … at 10 a.m., and are ready to party. When I run my reports, brunch has the same tally, but people drink three times as much.”

Therefore, Embry will have plenty of other options available. Sparkling rosé is one of her favorites. A Cremant d’Alsace and cava offer celebratory bubbles for customers because she “loves sparkling wines from all parts of the world.”

At her family gathering Sunday morning, Smith will pour sparkling wine, as well. She’ll use it to make a refreshing brunch cocktail.

“It’s sparkling wine for me,” Smith said. “With my family, we tend to do Aperol spritzes on Easter morning or some sort of hybrid, where there’s prosecco and Aperol with a splash of orange juice. It’s a little more than a mimosa.”

While Smith had a creative take on her brunch service, there’s plenty of room to be imaginative when it comes to selecting a wine. If it’s a ham dinner that people will gather for, Embry called for a cru Beaujolais because it’s “good with everything, white meat or red meat.”

If there’s a large crowd, Embry has always leaned on pinot noir or cru Beaujolais, barbera and dolcetto.

Lately, she’s delved into Corsican wine. The French island, that probably is more closely identified with Italy, has what she said are fun red wines with “crunchy red fruit, pomegranate cherry and cranberry with granite notes.”

With Mother’s Day next month, Father’s Day the following, and summer fast approaching, both women are busy yet looking forward to the return to normalcy after a long stint of COVID-related restrictions.

There’s the Second Annual Wrigley Mansion Wine Festival, a four-day food and wine extravaganza that runs April 28 to May 1. Smith has welcomed the return of winemakers to meeting the public, and the impact they can have on telling the story of a winery.

“It makes a big difference, especially for smaller brands when it comes to moving their products,” said Smith, who added that Birichino, Scribe Winery and Spanish wines Kiki and Juan, which come in one-liter bottles, are also great choices for Easter. “The assistant winemaker at Brooks wine came out on a visit, and it was really exciting to have her talk. She makes the wines herself, and people get excited to ask more technical questions and hear more about that.

“We try to tell [the] story of small places,” Smith said. “It helps to have a voice directly from the winery; we like actual celebratory events, it’s like we are sharing a glass together.”

• James Nokes has been tasting, touring and collecting in the wine world for several years. Email him at jamesnokes25@yahoo.com.