Its time to select a Thanksgiving wine
Thanksgiving is a little less than two weeks away. Its time to start thinking about what wines to select for your feast. Selecting wines that pair well with the many flavors and textures of your traditional meal can be a daunting task for many. What wine to choose that wont contrast with the roasted turkey flavors, or over-power those creamy mashed potatoes, or be lost in the flavors of that savory bread dressing? Should you choose a red or white wine with turkey? What about the contrast of flavors from appetizers to main course? The simple answers to these Turkey Day dilemmas is easy select a separate wine for the appetizer course, and a suitable red and white wine for the main faire, and a dessert wine that complements your dessert. Now if you or your guest just wont drink anything but a red or a white wine, then your task is made simpler by choosing a good wine, the color of your choice, that will pair with your meal. I like pairing a few varietals to the meal and then everyone is happy, and you will have the added pleasure of enjoying the effect a certain style and varietal has upon a food.
The old rule of thumb, red wine for red meats and white wines for white meats really doesnt hold true for the Thanksgiving meal. Finding wines that pair well with the main flavors of your meal, the flavors from the spices and herbs you use in preparation, should be the guide in selecting whichever varietal or varietals you choose. Typically, wines that offer a light- to medium-body and present themselves with lower tannin levels and less complexity are better suited to the vast array of flavors the wine is meant to complement. For more on tannins, visit http://us.f571.mail.yahoo.com/od/winebasic1/g/Tannins.htm.
For pre-dinner appetizers, a crisp refreshing white wine with enough acidity is a good choice. The higher acidity level of the wine will cleanse the palate after each bite, creating a refreshing, clean and light-tasting experience, that should whet the appetite for you and your guest for the feast to follow. A nice Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio, or a dry Riesling from Washington state or Alsace region of France would go nicely with most light appetizers. I like a nicely chilled sparkling wine: They make for very good refreshing aperitifs.
For the main course select wines that are not too big or over powering. After all, the food is the star of the day, the wines job is to enhance the dining experience. Generally light in body, with soft texture, a Pinot Noir is a popular choice for a red wine. Beaujolais Nouveau is another good choice. This reasonably priced, first wine of the season from the Beaujolais region, is light and refreshing, and is better when served slightly chilled, which adds to the refreshing aspects of a Beaujolais Nouveau. A good Merlot, one that is balanced, with good tannins, will also go well with any Thanksgiving menu. The soft fruitiness of a Grenache or Malbec, or a blend of any of these reds would pair nicely with a traditional turkey dinner.For those of you that do require a bolder red for the meal, look for a fruit-forward Syrah from California, or a Shiraz from Australia for a wine with more pronounced fruit flavors. Another full-bodied, big red would be a Californian Zinfandel. On the lighter white side, look for an unoaked Chardonnay, that has a soft creamy mouth-feel to complement your meal. Chardonnay makes one of the better pairings for turkey, and many of the traditional side dishes. California, Australia, or Chile offers some very good Chardonnays to choose from. Two whites which many steer clear of, but whose contrasting flavors and over-all refreshing traits are a natural for the holiday meal, would be a Californian Gewurztraminer, or a nice dry Riesling. A crisp, refreshing California Sauvignon Blanc would enhance the flavors of each bite of the meal as well.
Dont forget the dessert wines. This would be a perfect time to try a late-harvest wine that is served well-chilled to go along with the pumpkin pie. Look for a late-harvest Riesling from the Sierra foothills, or a Moscato. Both will complement the flavors of pumpkin pie. For a daring, and pricey adventure, look for an ice wine a dessert unto itself.
WhitesFor whites, two wines from semi-local Nevada City Winery come to mind: The 06 Gewurztraminer is very aromatic, with a soft and creamy mouth-feel, and a slightly sweet and crisp finish. Nevada Citys 06 Sonata, a blend of Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc, is another good choice. Flavors of pears and green apples with crisp citrus undertones, and a crisp dry finish would add to your Thanksgiving meal. Mason 05 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc from Napa has a grapefruit nose, with flavors of citrus and fig. This well-balanced crisp wine has great acidity.RedsFor reds, Flora Springs 05 Poggio Del Papa, a blend of Sangiovese and Cabernet grapes, creates a very food-friendly, well-balanced red wine. Flavors of tart cranberries with nuances of cherry and raspberry, with balanced tannins and acids.One of the best Pinot Noirs Ive tasted recently is the 03 Fort Ross Reserve, Sonoma County. This wine has a soft and luxurious mouth-feel, with luscious flavors of juicy raspberries, soft and balanced finish.The 06 Fleur Carneros Pinot Noir has aromas of cherries and cranberries, with hints of spice. This soft, fruity wine would be delicious served slightly cool with your Thanksgiving meal, from appetizers to entre. Truckee River Winerys 02 Nevada County Merlot would also be a fantastic choice. This balanced wine with enough tannins and acidity to meld well with your meal shows flavors and aromas of dark plums and pepper.Many of the wine shops in the area will be featuring some of their Thanksgiving favorites, and as always the knowledgeable staff can lead you in the right direction for choosing a wine for your meal, be it one that can be enjoyed from appetizers through the main meal. Janice Jones is a Truckee resident and wine consultant. Reach her at email@example.com.
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