Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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Thanksgiving – Feasting with Wines

November 27th, 2013 by brynn grimley

Mary writes:

Thanksgiving launches the season of food centric get-togethers with family and friends. When you think of Thanksgiving, visions of roasted turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy, pumpkin pie and a well set table surrounded by loved ones dance in your head. These visions of the great American feast require wines to make the dinner special.

More wine, in my experience, is sold for Thanksgiving Day dinner than for any other meal of the year. And with good reason, with so many different flavors and palates, your wine choices should be many. With the variety of strong flavors, whether cranberries, brussel sprouts, oyster dressing or green bean casserole, it’s smart to have several different all-American wines gracing the table.

Because the most important consideration is taste, there is only one hard and fast rule for selecting the right wines, buy what you like.  So here are some suggestions:

Always begin the feast with a sparkling wine as nothing says Celebrate! like the pop of a cork. As guests are arriving, with a bottle and a dish in hand, get them settled with a flute of Gruet Brut Sparkling, from New Mexico or my other go to sparkler, Woodbridge Extra Dry by Robert Mondavi, Napa, California. Gruet is a tart green apple bubbly and Woodbridge, being extra dry, is actually slightly sweeter than brut.

For the Whites:
The most popular grape in America, Chardonnay, is a no brainer so let’s consider other whites. For a feast of this magnitude, a refreshing, tangy and fruity Oregon Pinot Gris – Duck Pond is packed with flavor and easy on the wallet. Another easy white from California is Meridian Pinot Gris, easy to find, easy on the wallet and easy to sip.

Riesling and Gewurztraminer own the Thanksgiving Table. And none other than Washington State has some of the best to offer with lovely, complex fruit flavors, and a touch of minerality. Hogue Gewürztraminer has the stuffing with its lychee sweetness and crisp acidity. Pacific Rim’s Columbia Valley Riesling is also crisp and slightly sweeter, a lovely wine from a blend of vineyards around Columbia Valley made in an off-dry style at 3.1% RS.

The Reds:
You can serve red wine with turkey because you, your best friend and Uncle Jim love red wine. Younger wines with their buckets of plums, blackberries, cherries, and raspberries are better suited than aged bottles because they are distinctively fruity with crisp acidity.

And no other wine embodies this than  Zinfandel. I’m partial to Sonoma’s Cline Winery. Their Zinfandel is made the old fashioned way and has wonderful black cherries and enough body to pair well with the main course.

Grenache would be another good choice for its fruity personality. From Washington, Maryhill and Renegade. But the very best for flavor and price are red wine blends, IMHO. Love Maryhill’s, Marietta’s and Desert Wine’s Ruah.

For pumpkin pie, let’s go with this season’s most popular wine – Muscat. Versatile, sweet and sometimes slightly bubbly, this wine can make you and Momma smile. Go with the frizzante style that has a slight spritz that keeps the wine from being too cloying. With so many to choose from, I’d go with the pioneers of Early Muscat in Oregon, Sylvan Ridge. They’ve been making this wine for almost 15 years in a refreshing, semi-sparkling, sweet style reminiscent of the Moscato d’Asti from northwest Italy.

We have much to be thankful for.  Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

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