By Celia Strong
This final week before Thanksgiving, here is a list of a variety of red wines just right for the holidays. In many ways it is easier to find a red wine to go with turkey dinners than it is to find a white wine. I guess, too, that can make it harder to choose just one wine. With all the choices, I, for example, like to not settle for just one option. That way, if I feel one way in the morning, I’m covered. And if I feel a change by mid-day, I’m still covered. And, again, if I feel like something else when all the food is ready, I’m still prepared.
Chandon Pinot Meunier ($19.99) To start with, we’re going to go back to a wine that I have been drinking for years, through multiple vintages. Pinot Meunier is a red cousin to Pinot Noir; same basic flavors but more intense and more body in the wine. It is the third variety used in the Champagne region, and, as you can see from the label, this still wine comes from the California sparkling house of Moët and Chandon. Red Pinots always pair well with a turkey dinner, as well as duck, pheasant and other poultry. And this one was described as “better than sex.” Maybe not, but that is quite a recommendation. At a discounted price even.
Côtes de Beaune-Villages ($25.99) Another blast from the past — a Pinot Noir from the Burgundy region of France. We need to remember not only how good this wine is, but what it’s name (appellation) signifies. Côtes de Beaune-Villages in not a town wine, where the grapes come only from the named town, it is a sub-regional appellation that is used to blend grapes from several towns. These grapes are way better than many town grapes, especially in this case with this specific producer. Pommard is a town, and an appellation, that makes red wines in this part of Burgundy. Drouhin’s Pommard costs almost $60 dollars a bottle. Because Burgundy wine laws say they can only make so many gallons of wine per acre, the leftover Pommard grapes go into another wine. And, guess which wine the leftovers get blended into? For less than half price, and a limited quantity, we get great Pinot Noir.
Finca La Linda Malbec ($10.99). From Mendoza, Argentina, this Malbec is medium bodied with intense plum and smoke flavors. Smooth and mellow, great for sipping and for a holiday dinner. This wine is 100 percent Malbec, made from hand picked and hand de-stemmed grapes that are grown at over 1,000 feet above sea level. Temperature controlled fermentation enhances the great fruit flavors. All under the watchful eye of the owner at the Luigi Bosca Winery. Over the last several years, Malbec wines from Argentina have continued to grow in both in popularity and availability. “The pretty little farm,” that’s what “Finca La Linda” means, has been a long time favorite.
Steele Shooting Star Syrah ($11.99) From California, Mendocino County, this Syrah is above and beyond its price range. Made by Jed Steele, this variety is his personal favorite and the Shooting Star Syrah is a pet project for him. This wine is made from grapes harvested from up to five different vineyards, giving it a complexity that only one or two vineyards can’t. Hand picked, fermented for eight days, eight months barrel aging in French and American wood, this really is a great wine for a fair price — more than fair. Smooth tannins make this a great choice for Turkey Day, with the food and sipping as you go through the day.
Thorny Rose Red Blend ($7.99) A Washington state wine made from several varieties — Merlot, Cabernet, Malbec and Syrah — that each gives its own flavors to this wine, so that, in your glass, it is very multi-layered, or complex, in wine speak, and more flavors are the sign of a well made wine. It’s the difference between having a plain hamburger or hot dog and having one with “the works.” This wine has plum, black and red fruits, smoke, vanilla, baking spices, caramel and more; pretty amazing when you look at the price. Not too heavy, but it can stand up to white and dark meat and all the fixings. And, for the price, you can make sure you have a few extra bottles handy for when you catch a minute to yourself to enjoy a quiet glass.
JCB No 69 Rosé Crémant de Bourgogne ($17.99) Another Pinot Noir wine, also from the Burgundy region of France. But this one is a bubbly. As with any holiday, bubbles become more important and more fun. A glass or two of bubbles is sort of how many of us know we are having a holiday. Besides being a deep rosé color, so it looks really pretty in your glass and on the table, this wine is absolutely lovely. Smooth and fresh and clean and dry, it will go especially well with the food. We did say Pinots would, but it gives the whole day a lift, and a lift on a holiday is always a good thing. Another tidbit on this wine? Crémant does not have as many bubbles in it as Champagne, about half as many, actually, which means it is easier to drink and easier to drink more of because there’s less air going into your stomach, you know. There’s enough hot air going around on Turkey Day, so keep it on the outside!
So, here we have some choices for holiday reds. As I looked back over white and red wine choices for the last couple of years, I found some of them were repeated, so it’s good to know that some of these wines started off good and have remained good, which is the great thing about wines. We can all always like our old favorites and we can all find new ones we like just as much. And, that is the best wine lesson ever! Happy Thanksgiving and Good Wines. Enjoy!
All the wines on this list can be found at Bill’s Liquor on Lady’s Island.