Monday, November 22, 2010
Annual Thanksgiving Hit List
Here are a few pairing tips and recommendations from our selection. We’ve picked traditional options at different price points so there is something for every wallet. And for those of you feeling a bit more adventurous, I've thrown in a few non-traditional choice as well, which is more along the lines of what we'll be drinking on turkey day! The wines will have a special “holiday pick” tag on the shelves and if you purchase any four of these wines for your celebration, we’ll give you a 10% discount. And we’ll be featuring 5 of these wines in our Tuesday Night Holiday Wines Tasting, so come in and try to see what will best suit your menu!
For the wide array of flavors on the Thanksgiving table, sparkling wines are a no-brainer. Bright acidity, fruit and yeasty undertones make bubbly extremely food-friendly. Especially good are Brut rosé and Blanc de Noir, which can take you from the lox or chevre hors d'oeuvre to the vinaigrette salad right through the turkey and potatoes and onto the pie. The Pinot Noir grapes in these wines provide body, some tannin for texture, red-fruit character, complexity and acid balance. And in general, the bubbles from natural carbonation from the yeast, in concert with the wine's acidity, help cleanse the palate for the next course.
Our Pick: Pierre Sparr Cremant de Alsace Rosé, $18.99; Schramsberg Rosé, $32.99 or Taittinger Cuvee Francais, $44.99
White wines with lively fruit and acidity and little to no oak are also versatile. With its aromas and flavors of citrus, apple and pear and zippy acidity plus herbal notes, Sauvignon Blanc pairs with everything from butternut-squash soup to green salad to turkey with a dressing made of briny oysters and herbs. Even notoriously tough-to-pair Brussels sprouts will sing with Sauvignon Blanc. Alsatian and German whites like Rieslings, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris with their tropical fruit, citrus, green-apple, pear and mineral notes combined with thirst quenching acidity, work with almost any Thanksgiving dish except the cranberry sauce.
Our Pick: Drytown Sauvignon Blanc, $12.99; Sineann Pinot Gris, $18.99; Pierre Sparr Riesling, $14.99, Vino Noceto Pinot Grigio, $16.99, Caseglio Arneis, $16.99
"Serious" dry rosés made from Pinot Noir, Sangiovese, Syrah or Mourvedre grapes or blended proprietary rosés have acidity to balance the citrus, red and stone fruits and usually sport structure and a long finish but light tannins.
Our Pick: Houchart Rosé de Provence, $14.99; Terre Nere Rosato, $17.99
Fruity reds like Beaujolais are a favorite "go-to" pick for Thanksgiving. They brings soft, easy drinking affordability to the table that's perfect for the cornucopia of flavors and large group setting that Thanksgiving entails. With their bright fruit flavors, they can perk up the milder dishes and enough have structure to hold their own with the more robust courses made with sausage and herbs. As an alternative, a good Dolcetto or lighter style Barbera can offer similar characteristics and are real crowd pleasers.
Our Pick: Pierre Chermette Beaujolais, $15.99, Paitin Dolcetto, $15.99, Castello Poggio Barbera, $15.50
Syrah and Zinfandel have the spice, dark fruit and berries to bring out the best in cranberry sauces as long as the wine has soft tannins and ripe, forward fruit and the sauce is balanced -- moderately tart and not too sweet.
Our Pick: Drytown Red on Red, $12.99; Driven Primativo, $26.99; Nicholson Ranch Syrah, $19.99; Runquist 1448, $16.50.
The best single wine to choose for Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir. This versatile varietal has tangy red fruit of strawberry and cherry, with nice acidity to balance and low levels of tannin. With elegance and a touch of earthiness to lend complexity, Pinot Noir will subtly support most things on the Thanksgiving table without overpowering them. Cranberry sauce and dessert are exceptions again, with the sauce too tart and the dessert too sweet. Something a little more adventurous, but with a similar profile could be an Etna Rosso or a Sicilian Cerasuolo.
Our Pick: Ramspeck Pinot Noir, $15.99, Surh Luchtel Russian River Pinot Noir, $24.99; Moises Yamhill Carlton Pinot Noir, $39.99; Paul Garaudet Monthelie, $27.99
Planeta Cerasuolo, $23.99, Frank Cornelissen Contadino Etna Blend, $28.99
So there you have it! But remember the most important thing is to drink wines that make you happy with people that make you smile, because that is what it's all about!