Considered one of the most sacred holidays in the Greek Orthodox faith, Easter is the day we prepare the biggest and most memorable feast with our family and friends. Every household takes special care and attention to the offerings that will be served and featured that day. At the same token, I will prepare you with the wine offerings for our special Easter feast.
As we depart from church after the acknowledgment that “Christ has risen” on Saturday night (the night before Easter), we make our way home to officially kick off our Easter feast with the customary Easter lamb soup also known as mageiritsa, which translates to small cooking. As noted in the cookbook, “The Olive & The Caper”, mageiritsa is a soup that is only prepared for Easter that is made with small morsels of lamb combined with an egg-lemon froth. The soup is hearty but light enough to restore energy to the faithful worshipers that are weak from lent. The choice of wine that best suits this flavorful soup is non-other than the traditional selection of retsina. Yes, retsina, a light and crisp wine with tints of aromatic pine, pairs well with the combination of the silky structure and lemon accents from the soup. The choice to select is from the winery Malamatina that is based in Thessaloniki. Malamatina retsina has the been producing retsina for over a century and has become the staple wine of Northern Greece. Malamantina is a very pleasant white wine, with a fading presence of resin to give it that perfect balance for a retsina.
All sorts of mezedakia are being made ranging from cold to hot ones for the introduction to the flavorful lamb that is being roasted on the spit by the men of the family. Traditionally as the lamb is being slowly roasted on the spit, which could take up to six hours, typically it’s a time for the men to socialize over good tsipouro or tsikoudia as they also nibble at sections of the lamb to test its readiness. Tsipouro, which is a spirit distilled from left over grape skins, grape seeds, and/or stems is very smooth and aromatic. The Lazaridis winery in Drama makes an excellent tsipouro called ‘Idoniko’ that would be the right fit for that social moment. ‘Idoniko’ is also produced with a touch of fennel or ‘glykaniso’. Tsikoudia is similar to tsipouro, but originates from the island of Crete and is also produced from distilled grapes. The aromas of grapes are more present in tsikoudia. A selection that I would highly recommend would be from the Varvaki Distillery.
Once again, there is plenty of great food and great wine throughout this wonderful day. We finish off the evening with a room full of sweet offerings and desserts that range from cookies, pies, cakes, and Greek sweet wine from Samos.