Χριστός Ανέστη, or Christós Anésti̱, means “Christ has risen” in Greek. This week is Orthodox Easter. Midnight mass, red hard-boiled eggs and lamb are just some of the traditions that accompany this Christian holiday, which celebrates the resurrection of Christ. Orthodox Easter holds a special place in my heart, bringing back many wonderful childhood memories still practiced in my family today.
Aside from lamb, wild greens, fresh feta and roasted potatoes with rosemary are some of the staples at my Easter table. And, of course there’s the wine. Wines made from the Agiorgitiko grape of Nemea, in the Peloponnese, pair nicely with Easter fare.
But, what about dessert? My favorite is Tsoureki (tsoo-REH-kee), the traditional bread of Greek Easter. Tsoureki is a sweet yeast-based bread made of eggs, milk and butter. A staple during Greek Easter, a Tsoureki loaf is formed into a three-strand braid that symbolizes the Holy Trinity. A red-dyed hard-boiled egg braided into the dough symbolizes the blood of Christ. As a child, I used to watch my Yaya (grandmother) Davis laboriously kneed the bread dough, brushing it with melted butter prior to cooking to give it shine and topping it off with sesame seeds.
So, dessert for me was always a slice of Tsoureki slathered with boysenberry, blackberry, olallieberry, Marionberry or some other dark berry jam. As an adult, Tsoureki with jam is still my go-to dessert. But now, instead of finishing off my Tsoureki with—well, in my case—soy or almond milk, I enjoy my jam-laden bread with a modest pour of Zorba desert wine.
Zorba, a California red dessert wine produced by Odyssey Winery and Vineyards in Chico, California, was inspired by the Mavrodaphne dessert wines of the Greek Peloponnese. Unlike the actual variety, which means “black laurel” in Greek, Zorba is 60 percent Zinfandel and 40 percent Barbera. The 2008 Zorba belies the 20.1 percent alcohol content, which quickly blows off, giving way to dark berry and black cherry fruits enveloped in plum and raisin, complimented by caramel and chocolate notes with a hint of coffee.
Viscous, dark and rich—yet delicate—this desert wine may not have been made in the traditional style (which includes the process of initially vinifying the wine in large vats exposed to the sun), but Zorba will definitely delight your senses and leave you wanting more. Yasou!
Zorba was a Gold Medal Winner at the 2012 San Francisco International Wine Competition.