Thursday, November 15, 2018

Wines for Thanksgiving!

For most of you, Thanksgiving means only one thing, TURKEY or i.e. the big bird, accompanied by a myriad of side dishes that include different textures, colors and flavors; from salty to sweet, to savory, it can make the choosing of a Thanksgiving wine a true challenge! So hopefully here comes some help :)

The bird is after all, a white meat, so most people will tend to choose a white wine, but I would not discard reds! Especially if they are fruit forward and soft. Yet please do avoid tannic wines at all cost! Since tannins will overpower the bird and their structure and dryness will collide with the sweetness of some of your side dishes and not in a good way.

My first choice of red is Beaujolais Nouveau.   

This wine is the first sold after the vintage, so do look for 2018 bottles. Beaujolais Nouveau is sold on the 3rd week of November, just in time for Thanksgiving or on the day of to be exact. Many stores will display a sign saying Beaujolais Nouveau est arrive! Announcing its arrival. It is red, light and fruity, with aromas of refreshing cherries and raspberry mixed with bubble gum and banana notes. Light in body and not tannic, it is probably one of the few reds that you can drink slightly chilled. If your store doesn't have Beaujolais Nouveau, a Beaujolais Villages will work too.

A second choice for reds is my favorite grape, Pinot Noir. Elegant and seductive Pinot Noir will feature strawberries, black cherries but also leather notes and mushrooms. If you can afford it, buy from Burgundy (and expect to pay at least $50 for a good village wine, more if it is 1er Cru or Grand Cru). But, if you prefer a fruit forward style, go to the New World, like New Zealand, California or Oregon. Light and with bright acidity, it will be a good match not only for turkey but also for duck.

A third choice for those that want red wines with more body, is California Zinfandel. Fruit forward and soft on the palate, it can be a great way to say thanks by drinking a wine produced domestically. Zinfandel will showcase plenty of alcohol, some samples reaching up to 14% and will feature aromas and flavors of figs, prunes, raisins, not precisely a shy wine!Now if you like Rosé wine, Turkey will be a great match to dry rosé. Choose samples from the South of France or Spain (where they are known as Rosados). 

Now if you can afford it, also try bubbly Rosé, either Champagne, Prosecco or new world sparkling. Their nice acidity will cleanse your palate, besides that everything is better with bubbles!

Now if you must have a white wine with white meat, I have three white wine recommendations for you, the first one is German Riesling, Kabinett or Spatlese (off dry). Spatlese is made from grapes that are left in the vineyard for a longer time, and therefore riper. Riesling is delicate, light, floral, crispy but with a bit sweetness. Sweetness that will match with all those sweet sides; cranberry sauce, sweet potato casserole, pumpkin pie, roasted carrots, etc. German Riesling is naturally low in alcohol, Germany's Mosel is after all one of the coolest wine producing region, some samples will not reach 11% alcohol, but this is a great thing! finally a wine that will not make you drunk with the first sip!My second white recommendation is another aromatic choice, Gewürztraminer, especially from Alsace. Gewürztraminer will feature lychees, roses, orange blossom aromas, but it will have a bigger body than Riesling, higher alcohol and spices. Do not let Gewürztraminer’s aromas full you! When made in Alsace these wines are dry, but there are also samples with some sweetness, like VT (Vendange Tardive).

Finally, a third choice for a white is Chardonnay, especially from California and Australia, meaning with a bit of oak or if you are like me, with a lot of oak. The creaminess and butter notes of CA Chardonnay will match with the bird very nicely, especially if we compare textures, big with big.

Now with dessert, why not try something sweet and fortified? Fortified means with alcohol levels that go from 15, 5 to 20 %. Port or Sherry comes to mind. Either Port or Sherry will be a great match to all the flavors in pumpkin pie, coconut custard pie, sweet potato pie, pecan pie, etc. For Ports I will choose a Late Bottled Vintage from a good producer. And when choosing Sherry, I would prefer a sweet Oloroso (smelly in Spanish).

So here are my brand recommendations: *

    German Rieslings (from the Mosel):Dr Loosen, Selbach Oster Kabinett, JJ Prum, Egon Muller, Balthasar Ress.
    Alsace Gewürztraminers:Hugel et Fils, Trimbach, Lucien Albretch, Weinbach.
    California Chardonnay:Kendall Jackson, Chateau St Jean, Beringer.
    Prosecco Rosé or Rosé Champagne/ Sparkling:Lamberti Prosecco, Pol Roger Rosé Champagne, Ruinart Rosé Champagne, Gloria Ferrer Sparkling, Tattinger Rosé Champagne, Krug Rosé Champagne.
    Still Rosé: El Coto de Rioja Rosado, Muga Rosado, Hecht and Bannier Rosé, Jaboulet P45 Rosé.
    Beaujolais Nouveau or Beaujolais Villages:Georges Duboeuf, Louis Jadot, Joseph Drohuin.
    New World Pinot Noir:Matua Pinot Noir, Babich Pinot Noir.
    Burgundy Pinot Noir:Domaine Faiveley, Louis Jadot,  Meo Camuzet, Jacques Prieur.
    California Zinfandels:Ravenswood, Rancho Zabaco, Ridge. 
    Ports:Quinta Do Crasto LBV Port, Churchills LBV, Dow LBV, or Graham’s.
    Sherries:Lustau, Barbadillo, Sanchez Romate, Gonzalez Byass (make sure all of these are sweet).

Salud, Santé, Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving! 

*prices vary per brand, and some of them can cost $30 and above (Burgundy, Champagne, Sherries for example).