This Thanksgiving shake things up a little. Yes, I could be talking about cocktails, but that’s Greg’s arena. And no, I’m not talking about excluding friends or family members from your table. What I am talking about (again) is wine. Just say no to Beaujolais Nouveau and try to stretch your imagination beyond Pinot Noir (which, I’ll admit can be fabulous, especially from Anderson Valley. And admittedly its cheery cherry goodness goes with nearly everything). Dig deeper into your wine tasting memory bank to find some interesting, reasonably priced unexpected pairings for your traditional Thanksgiving fare. (The first of my Thanksgiving Wine Tips is you do NOT have to forgo Champagne. I would never recommend that.)
More Thanksgiving Wine Tips:
Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Why not crack open a 2015 Indaba Chenin Blanc, the Cape’s signature white? This intensely flavored and balanced wine offers notes of apple, pear, and tropical fruit would be great with a squash dish featuring quinoa or mushrooms. The list price is a bargain at $12, but I found it online for $7! Not only that, but a portion of sales is donated to a fund for training educators. That’s something to be thankful for.
Rosé from California. Not just a summertime sipper, a rosé made from Cabernet Sauvignon will stand up to brussels sprouts with pancetta. I recently tasted a sustainably farmed, fresh, floral rosé made from Pinot Noir that goes with just about any dish if you really must have Pinot Noir at your Thanksgiving table. Unfortunately, the 2015 Lazy Creek Vineyards Anderson Valley Rosé I tasted has sold out, but keep an eye out for the 2016!
Merlot from Washington state. Disregard Merlot’s unpopularity among the uninformed. Merlot can be a juicy, aromatic and spicy partner to that hearty porcini mushroom dish you prepared for your vegan friend. Fabulous finds from Washington run the price gamut from $11 (2013 Columbia Crest “H3”) to $85 for the 2013 Leonetti Walla Walla Valley Merlot, 94 points from Robert Parker which pretty much guarantees a burst of big black fruit supported by structured tannins.
How about a Petite Sirah from California? Well, there’s nothing petite about the 2013 Frank Family Vineyards Napa Valley Petite Sirah– this wine is intense, its aromas of fresh baked black fruit crumble translate to tart blackberry and blueberry flavors topped with creamy vanilla on the palate. The long finish allows you to sip and savor a spicy caramelized onion soup or aged gouda and camembert cheese course.
If you plan to serve some bubbly with dessert – and you should – you can save some cash (hey, that means you can buy more bottles) by choosing a nice $13 Spanish Cava, a sparkling Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend from the Anderson Valley like the widely available and highly drinkable $24 Roederer Estate Brut, or even a $15 French white or rosé Cremant de Limoux. I’m not a fan of Lambrusco at any price, sorry.
The last of my Thanksgiving Wine Tips is simple. Eat up, drink creatively and responsibly and enjoy your time with family and friends. Though it may not always feel like it, there is a lot to be thankful for this Thanksgiving. KEN