Friday, November 16, 2007

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings

The following is my latest contribution to newsletter at the wine shop/bar where I work, entirely focused on wines for the upcoming holiday, and mostly kind-of autobiographical.

On the last Thursday of November (this year I’ve chosen to mark the event a week earlier), I like to take a little time to express gratitude for the things around me that I love. Wine, cheese, certain foods, friends, my parent’s small white dog, and various members of my family, for example. My mother has endearingly named this event “Thanksgiving,” and to express reverence for my thoughtfulness, she invites the family over to enjoy a lovely late-fall inspired dinner while listening to my speech of gratitude.

At these dinners my mother roasts a stuffed turkey and makes a beautiful gravy. My Aunt Edna makes a spiced sweet potato dish with large doses of nutmeg, ginger and marshmallows. My father makes seasoned cream and butter, into which he stirs a cooked potato or two. I make green beans with almonds and garlic, and my cousins make cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie for dessert.

My tribute meal is always superb, and every year, I have the honor of matching the wines to this spice-laden, butter-adorned seasonal dinner. I would highly recommend such a dinner event to anyone. It’s a wonderful excuse to eat turkey, eat spiced sweet potatoes, share time with your family, and of course, sip some of the loveliest wines, the types of which I’ll divulge below.

For whites, the lush consistency, spices, and sometimes even tartness of the meal calls for aromatic, spicy, sultry, full-bodied wines, or even whites with a little residual sugar to soothe the big flavors. A Gewürztraminer would certainly hit the spot, as would a Riesling or dry Muscat. Oaky whites are also welcome at this table, because, after all, what goes better with creamy, buttery food than creamy, nutty, or (dare I say) buttery wine? In general, I stay away from leaner, acidity-driven wines, since foods of gratitude really just want a little full-bodied loving to cushion their tart, spicy, or creamy character.

Of course you’ll also need some reds. Luckily, turkey is a generous, accommodating bird that is often happy with whatever red you offer. A key guideline for determining what varietal(s) to serve with your turkey is to consider the stuffing that you will pair with the meal. If you’ll be serving a heavier stuffing, say with garlic and sausage, chose a darker wine that’s heavy on the fruit and spicy, like a Zinfandel or Rhône blend (Syrah, Grenache, Mouvedre based). On the other hand, an apple and sage or classic bread stuffing might pair better with a lighter red, a Pinot Noir for example.

Below is a list of a few of the wines that I will be eyeing for my Thanksgiving table. I hope that you find some of them to your liking, and if you do, certainly give me a shout out when making your speech in front of your family.

Aromatic Whites:
06 Elena Walsh Kastelaz Gewürztraminer, Alto Adige, Italy: lychee, rose, ginger, dry.
06 Diel de Diel, Nahe, Germany: pear-like, gingery Pinot Blanc and Gris with a touch of flowery Riesling.
06 Ca’ del Solo Dry Muscat, Monterey, CA : heady, spicy, scents. Full-bodied.
05 Movia Ribolla Gialla, Brda, Slovenia : peach, mint thick, rounded.

Nutty, Toasty, Full-Bodied Whites:
05 Gainey Chardonnay, Santa Rita Hills, CA : like a caramel apple sprinkled with nuts
04 Domaine Bernard Millot “La Goutte D’Or” Meursault 1er Cru, Burgundy, France: creamy, minerally poached pear.

Lighter Reds:
06 Evesham Wood Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, OR : earthy, bright cherry

Darker Reds:
05 Eric Texier Brézème, Côtes du Rhône, France : all syrah, all blueberry and bacon
05 Lamborn Family Zinfandel, Napa Valley, Howell Mountain, CA : plush, dark fruit with a touch of spice.
05 Noceto “Original Grandpere Vineyard” Zinfandel, Sierra Foothills, CA : deep, soulful, old-vine berries

Stumble Upon Toolbar

No comments: