Thanksgiving is a time for giving thanks and reflecting on the blessings in our lives. It’s also the time for the traditional American feast, with turkey as the main attraction and side dishes galore.
For wine-lovers, this is perhaps the greatest of all holiday meals, given the various tastes and textures filling each plate. Turkey is unique in the fact that it can be quite good with either red or white wine. I try to have a bottle of each on the table at this family gathering.
The premier red wine for the occasion is Pinot Noir. Whether from French Burgundy or our own West Coast, the low tannins, good acidity and inherent softness of this quaff makes it an ideal match for the noble bird.
Another red wine that matches well is Syrah. In southern France, it is blended with Grenache, where it gives us Côtes du Rhône, a wonderful, food-friendly beverage that goes with all the different dishes on the table. In the northern Rhône, Syrah is unblended and reaches its zenith, but you have to do your research as the best wines are named by location.
For white wine fans, the choices have never been better. Riesling is the noble grape of Germany and goes together well with American turkey. Low in alcohol but with good acidity and fruitiness, it matches side dishes, as well as the main event. This versatile quaff is grown everywhere the climate is cold and the soil rocky. While Germany is its home, good bottles can be found locally in Pennsylvania, as well as upstate New York and Washington.
Rieslings’ cousin is Gewürztraminer, which translates into “spicy traminer.” It’s a delicious white wine that has sprung up on the West Coast, as well as New York and our own Keystone State. The best are still from Germany, but the bottles from Alsace are unique and tasty.
Most people are familiar with Pinot Grigio from Italy, but, to match our feast, we turn to Pinot Gris, which is the same grape with a French background. These wines are richer and have more fruit, while retaining palate-cleansing acidity. The finest are from Alsace, with the vintages from Oregon also showing well.
Grüner Veltliner is quite a mouthful to pronounce but shows itself as the major white grape from Austria. Considered a dry wine, the flavor profile is citrus with a hint of white pepper and palette-popping acidity. One unique feature is its ability to match asparagus. Worth a try.
The Loire Valley in France is home to the best Chenin Blanc from the Touraine region, where it is known as Vouvray. A white wine that is floral-scented with hints of honey, it is one of the best food matches for our banquet. It comes in many styles, but the one I like best is demi-sec. Delicious on your table.
81092 Chevalier d’Anthelme Cotes du Rhone Rouge 2018 $11.99
Garnet red wine. On the nose, this wine reveals notes of jammy black fruit, cherry, liquorice and spices. Round palate with a finish dominated by candied, spicy and above all peppery notes. Well-melted tannins. Serve around 16-18 ° C.
83047 Solena Estate Grande Cuvee Pinot Noir Willamette Valley Estate 2018 21.99 (quoted at $30.00)
Spicy oak is cast across ripe red berries and cherries and delivers a modern impression. There’s a fresh-earth edge here, too, with attractive, spicy notes and a very vibrant feel to the tannins, which carry a grainy cut that holds freshness into the finish. Drink or hold.
— 92 Points James Suckling
79261 Empire Estate Dry Riesling Finger Lakes 2017 11.99- Chairman’s Selection
Yellow-gold with gray tints. On the nose, fresh apricot, jasmine and orange zest. In the mouth, there’s lots of underripe nectarine, some lime zest and a gentle, smooth stoniness that leads to a lean, clean and austere finish. A bright and joyous Riesling.
— 92 Points Vinous Media, Dec 2019
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