Last chance whites

By Celia Strong

As Thanksgiving Day rapidly approaches, I’m sure there are knots in many stomachs — just looking at mile long lists of what still has to get done before “THE” day can lead some to think it’s too close. There is no way to avoid its coming. The only options at this point are to dig in and do what has to be done, or change your plans. All of a sudden the invitation to go to your old aunt’s house is looking better. Or, my favorite, making a reservation at a restaurant, giving up all the cooking and cleaning. (But then there are no leftovers, so maybe not a great option.)

Whatever you end up doing, make sure you have plenty of wine. It helps while you’re cooking, eating, cleaning up, waiting to leave to go home (or the opposite, waiting for everyone to leave your house so you can relax). You know you need it. This week we’ll review a list of whites, and we’ll come up with reds for next week. Then all you have to do is count how many bottles you need and get them home.

Here are some recommended white wines for Thanksgiving, in alphabetical order, so choose the favorites that will best compliment your meal.

Borsao White ($7.99). A Spanish white that is medium bodied and neutral enough in its flavors to pair well with all the flavors and textures that are a part of this meal. We all tend to eat too much — not because we’re gluttons, but because there are just too many choices, too many good foods. This wine is made from a grape called Macabeo. Just try and tell me saying that several times  won’t be fun during your holiday dinner. Or try “Viura,” another name for the same variety. The vines are 25 to 30 years old; the wines are medium bodied, smooth yet dry, minerally with stone fruit flavors. Perfect.

Ferrari Carano Bella Luce ($13.99) A California blend of 11 varieties — some we’ve heard of and drunk often, some we’ve never heard of and have no way of knowing if we have or haven’t ever drunk them. Together, though, they make a lovely wine. A very unique wine, probably why I like it so much. Also, this is one of the far better pairings for a turkey dinner. Clean, crisp, fruity and refreshing. This wine can be drunk very cold, if that’s how you like it, with turkey, white and dark meat, ham, sweet potatoes, broccoli casserole.

Hecht & Bannier Côtes de Provence Rosé ($19.99) For sure we have to include a wine for ham. It’s that old “pink wine for pink meat” thing. This Côtes de Provence wine is excellent with ham, but why save it just for that? Turkey, duck and pheasant all will go well with it also. It has mild strawberry and red currant flavors, great dryness and acidity, smooth textures and beautiful, beautiful rosé color. A holiday in a glass if I ever saw one.

Marc Roman Terret ($6.99) A “more than its price leads you to expect” wine. It doesn’t happen often, but once in a while a wine comes in at an unexpectedly good price. And we all ask “Why?”  Well, who cares! It’s a great wine for the price and our job is to know when to use it. Like when you have a crowd of people, some who know nicer wines than others. But you can’t buy separate bottles for everyone and that’s when the Marc Romans come out. Terret is a dry white variety with less puckery acidity than Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio, and less weight and oakiness than Chardonnays. Add in their red wine (Malbec) and their Rosé (Syrah) and you’ve got the whole day covered. And your budget safe.

Pierre Sparr Pinot Blanc ($14.99) One of my favorites, all year long. This is by far one of the best food wines. Ever. Which shows you what can be the problem with reviewing wines for special occasions — I like them all anyhow. And the few that make the “Last Chance” list are always really good ones. Pinot Blanc is related to Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris/Grigio. More green-colored skin. A pretty full-bodied white, without oak, that for a long time was thought to be related to Chardonnay. And it fills in nicely for a Chardonnay. For a turkey dinner, or ham, or duck, or whatever, an Alsatian Pinot Blanc, like this one, is a great choice. More neutral than a Chardonnay, so it blends with the foods’ multiple flavors better.

Stags Leap Wine Cellars Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99) A Napa County wine, with all the history and prestige to go with it. A stellar winery, known possibly more for their reds than whites, but when you’re good, you’re good. A full-bodied white with ripe pear, melon, herb flavors and hints of baking spice and vanilla from some oak aging.  Made to really go with a big meal. Which is, I think, what we’re talking about?

It’s really difficult to come down to a final choice for the right holiday wine. I suppose budget is part of what each of us will drink. How well what we like to drink is shared with our family and friends at the table. A lot of thought is involved. And, we still have red wines to consider. Here’s my proposal: This week think over your whites. Choose two or three to taste one last time, if you can’t narrow it down to one final winner. Write down your choice when you make it, and put it in a safe place. Next week, do the same with reds. That way you will have decisions made days ahead of time, and that means you can relax and have a nice holiday. Enjoy.

All these wines can be found at Bill’s Liquor on Lady’s Island.

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