By Celia Strong
Every year, as the holiday season gets closer and closer, we all have to make a plethora of decisions. There are three big “family and friends” meals between now and Jan. 1, 2017.
We have to decide which meals we’ll cook, what we’ll cook, who will come, what time, and, the biggest decision of all, what we’ll drink. Many plans tend to include separate wines for the kitchen crew.
As usual, finding the right wines for the meal is very important. Thanksgiving dinner, being the first of the three meals, is maybe the biggest deal.
The thing about most traditional Thanksgiving dinners is they have such a huge range of flavors and textures. Turkey itself is white and dark meat, but then there’s ham. Pink meat. And sauces. And seasonings. The list of what a wine might be expected to pair with is limitless. And, yet, we keep trying.
For turkey, both white and red wines can be good. Both can go well with the food, and people like both. Personally, I like to do a red and a white from the same winery. Matching labels has its appeal.
This year we have a new pair: Rascal Pinot Noir and Rascal Pinot Gris. These wines are from Oregon. The Pinot Noir is amazing, dark ruby colored with raspberry and black cherry flavors, hints of herbs and soft tannins. The Pinot Gris has apple, peach and citrus notes, some minerality and crisp acids.
For $14.99 they are both bargains. So you can enjoy more bottles!
For more adventurous white drinkers, some less-often-used wines are good. The fun of new grapes even adds to the holiday mood.
Viognier is a white variety that features peaches and nectarines, almonds and flowers, with enough body to hold up to the big meal.
Try the Fairview Viognier from South Africa. It has pear and jasmine aromas followed by baked pear, nutmeg and perfume flavors. For $18.99.
From the Alsace region of northeastern France, a blended “Eidelswicker” is perfect. Hugel’s is lovely, refreshing and clean. All the Alsatian grapes are in it and yet no one variety stands out in its flavors, much like all the foods mixed together on our plates. For $13.99
A white Torrontes from Argentina is a third option. It is fruity and musky, aromatic and dry.
Terrazas Reserve Torrontes is stylish, refreshing and well suited to the whole meal … and cocktails before. At $14.99.
For red wines, Zinfandel has always stood out as a good choice. It is, after all, an American wine. And Thanksgiving is an American holiday. Synergy!
Zins can vary in style from lighter to heavier; they can be fruity, spicy and even higher in alcohol. High Valley Zinfandel from Mendocino is a bit of all these styles. For $16.99.
The last red that stands out as an obvious choice is Nouveau Beaujolais. This is a light, crisp French red, made from Gamay grapes, that is the first wine of their 2017 harvest.
It is legally released for sale on the third Thursday of November, just in time for the fourth Thursday, which is Thanksgiving Day.
Nouveau is fruity and grapey and is considered the red wine for white wine drinkers.
These wines are always ordered months before they arrive, so supply is limited. It’s always nice to include them on holidays because they are a celebratory wine. They are usually between $12 and $15.
If your dinner includes a ham, just think pink. Pink wine for pink meat. The right balance of weights between the two, the right amount of acidity (helps with the saltiness), a lovely color (if that matters), and it’s served at a temperature between reds and whites.
Jolivet Sancerre Rosé, a Pinot Noir from the Loire Valley in western France, is a winner.Also, a rarer wine, because Sancerres are usually white, so a treat for a holiday table. With red fruit flavors, like raspberries and cherries and cranberries, hints of white pepper, medium bodied, and a long finish. At $17.99.
So, a wine for all of our food. And friends. Hope it’s a great time and dinner and a glass for everyone! Enjoy.