Just look around the corner… it’s Thanksgiving!
Put aside your political comments and be thankful for one another (even for family members’ who voted for the “other” party!). Really, put the phone down and STOP commenting on your family members Facebook posts! This is a day to celebrate our differences and (family)! Be thankful.
Let’s talk instead about solid bird pairings and also good ‘just drinking’ Thanksgiving wines.
You see a lot out there discussing what makes a perfect wine pairing for Thanksgiving dinner. But this got me to thinking. I am a mom who cooks A LOT of food, and so I barely sit down. Most of my holiday wine drinking is done while standing and cooking, not while eating… the irony of a day built around food. One year we had 70 people at our house – 70 and two birds. I don’t recall eating. But yeah, I did drink! My thoughts: in addition to wine for dinner, get a good wine for the standing around and cooking – AND pick up Champagne!
Here are my picks for the season:
This year, I have the Bedell cellars Viognier (Long Island) for my friends who love white wine. Viognier is not an easy wine to make, given the grape’s sensitivity, but when you find a good one, it’s amazing. California has some great examples too. This wine is very floral, light and pleasant to drink.
This is pretty much on everyone’s list. Why is it perfect? It tastes great with food, and it is also crisp, fruity & easy to drink. A perfect match before, during and even after a heavy dinner. There are many, many expressions of Rieslings. Try local out of Niagara, NY, or go for Oregon or even California (where Roberty Sinskey makes a great wine called ‘Abraxas’), or try more traditional wines from Germany and Alsace. In Germany, look for Riesling wine labeled ‘Kabinett,’ which is going to be a drier example (if you’re not a Riesling fan, Pinot Blanc is a great alternative, more dry in nature, crisp and well priced!). For a well priced wine try Chateau St. Michelle dry Riesling for around $10.00
A full-bodied white wine that has it all. It is a crowd pleaser – most people are not going to turn you down on a glass of Chardonnay. Try a less-oaked version – maybe pick up one of my favorites, Russell Hamilton Chardonnay (and Pinot Noir) out of South Africa.
White Burgundy happens to be my ‘other’ go-to white wine for Turkey Day! There are different levels of quality in price, so I’ll give a quick rundown.
White burgundy is typically Chardonnay and red burgundy is Pinot Noir. Simple enough, right? Beyond that is a maze of classifications, appellations (called ‘climats’), and basically a lot to figure out. There are five main wine-growing regions: Chablis, Cote d’Or, Cote Chalonnaise, Maconnais and Beaujolais. A hierarchy of appellations ranks the top wines from the best sites/climats as Grand Cru and Premier Cru (with the wine label telling you which sites the grapes were grown on), moving down to the village level (where the name of the associated village appears on the label) and regional wines. Note that ‘Grand Cru’ only applies to Chablis and Cote d’Or wines.
So, quick version: Look for Bourgogne Blanc, Macon and Puilly Fuisse Borgogne – solid Chardonnays made outside of Burgundy’s famed (and expensive) Cote d’Or.
If you really want to spoil yourself, look for a Grand Cru/Premiers Cru such as Meursault, Puligny-Montrachet, Chassagne-Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet.
The crus will be typically aged in oak. The lower-priced wines are typically aged in stainless steel. These wines are light, with crisp acidity with a solid fruit profile.
A shout out to Chablis, which is also in the Burgundy region, but the wines are considered to have a very different taste profile. Look for Chablis Grand Cru, and my blog next week about Chablis!
Who doesn’t love a little bit of bubbly? This is surprisingly a MUST for Thanksgiving dinner. After all, what’s not to be thankful for?
If you don’t want to spend the money on Champagne Bollinger or Dom Perignon, try Cremant d’Alsace. It is a sparkling wine made in France (Alsace) in the ‘traditional method’ (aka Champagne method) using similar grapes to Champagne – Pinot Noir and Chardonnay – but also allowed are Pinot Blanc and Riesling. It is a bargain in terms of price. Other regions in France make cremants (Bourgogne, Loire, Limoux, etc.) but this one stands out!
For a solid ‘merica brand, try Schramsberg, J Wine, or Gloria Ferrer – or try something extra fun called “sparkling Shiraz” (a red sparkling wine, sweet and tart, out of Australia!).
Go for a ‘Beaujolais Cru’, wines made in a series of French villages in the Burgundy region, using the Gamay grape and vinified via semi-carbonic maceration (carbonic maceration, another blog for another day…). Moulin-à-Vent or Morgon are my favorites, with fresh, pure fruit and a bit more body, but the elegant Fleurie is lovely too. These wines are easy drinking and low in tannins, with lots of bright, red fruit – a perfect complement to turkey day (tip: don’t get Beaujolais Noveau). Aside from Beaujolais wines labeled Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon, and Fleurie, look for Brouilly, Côte de Brouilly, Chénas, Chiroubles, Juliénas, Régnié and St.-Amour.
This is my go-to. Pinot Noir sips well on its own, and it really holds up well to turkey & stuffing – and especially the cranberry sauce. However, Pinot Noir or red Burgundy can be spendy. Meiomi (https://www.meiomi.com) makes a good quality Pinot Noir at a lower price point.
My other PN choices would be Drouhin (both in Burgundy, France & Oregon), Domaine Serene and Evelshem Wood out of Oregon. Also, California produces a slew of more fruit-forward Pinots out of Carneros and the Russian River valley.
Other reds worth trying out for Thanksgiving: Barbera d’Alba or d’Asti (Northern Italy), Merlot (California, Washington), and Côtes du Rhône (Southern France).
Let me know what you’re drinking and tag me on IG/Twitter/or FB @winenotwhinemom! Let me know what your favorites are!