Easter for the Boutaris actually begins on Holy Thursday, when everyone colors eggs red (to signify the blood of Christ) and then goes to church. The family also attends services the next night, which is Good Friday, and on the Saturday evening that follows. "Thursday and Friday are very solemn," says Marina. "It isn't until Saturday night that the happy part of Easter begins. When we attend services on Saturday, each of us carries a red egg in our pocket, and at midnight, after the congregation says, 'Christ is risen,' we all crack our eggs and eat them. Sometimes we even take salt and pepper to church."
On Easter Sunday, the family gathers again, and sometime around noon, dinner begins. The appetizers, including a cucumber yogurt dip and stuffed grape leaves, are traditional holiday dishes, as is the fricassee of lamb with lettuce that follows. However, the french fries that accompany the lamb are, says Marina, an Athens adaptation. "When we have Easter in Thessaloníki, the lamb is roasted on a spit and served with roasted potatoes," she explains, "but in the city we eat french fries." For dessert, there are two choices--a halvah cake, another holiday recipe, and pastry-cream-filled phyllo--served with Samos, a dessert wine.
The wines that accompany the meal are chosen by Constantine and his nephew Stellios Boutari, 32, who serves as sales manager for the company. According to Stellios, the wine selections owe as much to tradition
as the food choices. "We start with Boutari Santorini, a dry white wine produced on the island of the same name," says Stellios. "The island is one of the oldest wine-producing regions in Greece, and Santorini is probably one of our best-known wines. It's lovely and aromatic, with enough flavor and body to stand up to the dips and the grape leaves. Then we always serve Grande Reserve Naoussa with the lamb. Naoussa, also named after the region where it's made, is a dry, elegant red wine that's synonymous with Boutari. Naoussa was the first wine my great-great-grandfather made when he founded the company in 1879." Stellios smiles. "If you asked anyone in my family what their favorite wine is, they'd say Naoussa."