By Celia Strong
Yep, only weeks to go and those big fat turkeys will on our tables. I thought maybe it would be a good idea to go back over some of the whites we’ve talked about that will be good with our meals. Some of the wines we’ve covered are just the right ones for this holiday meal, and I see no point in not enjoying them again. I am also keeping in mind that turkey is not the only thing on the table, so those of us with hams, and game hens, and duck, and whatever else, will all be covered too. (Next week we’ll do the “Red Wine Revue.”)
Now, in alphabetical order, by grape variety, and then the blends after, so no one thinks one is more special than another, here are my 10 favorite Thanksgiving white wines.
1. Chenin Blanc from Biltmore Estate, North Carolina: This wine is so well suited for turkey day! Like most of the wines from Biltmore, this Chenin is almost all California grapes. I know we all tend to veer away from Biltmore wines, but it’s not necessary. Their Chenin Blanc is dry, medium bodied, has hints of baking spices in its flavors (from some oak aging) that lay on top of apple, orange, mango, pineapple and floral notes and a long finish keeps it with you while you eat. $9.99.
2. Malvasia from Cavicchioli, Italy: This is a sparkling wine, remember the bottle painted with pretty flowers? This Italian bubbly is on the fruity side and is, bar none, the best dessert bubbly we’ve had in years without costing $50. Clean and still crisp on the finish, this Mavasia will not only go with all your pies and cakes and cookies, it will also make great cocktails. The best way to start or finish up a holiday meal! $9.99.
3. Pinot Blanc from Valley of the Moon, Sonoma County, California. This grape is a member of the Pinot family but, in actuality, tastes close to a Chardonnay. You may remember when we talked about this wine, we went over how for many years it was thought that Chardonnay itself was a member of the Pinot family. Not true, says DNA testing. This wine has a creamy texture, which means soft acidity, with apple, pear and lemon flavors. And it’s perfect with all the layers of flavors we pile on our Thanksgiving plates. Usually $15.99, now $9.97, until we run out.
4. Pinot Gris from Elk Cove, Oregon: This Pinot Gris is big and full bodied. Because the soil and climate in Oregon are close to those of eastern France, Pinot Gris from here is more floral and fruity than Italian Pinot Grigios — with peach, honeysuckle, golden delicious apple, a hint of baking spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) and almond flavors. The weight of this wine is more than most, even from our Northwest, and stands up well to even the dark meat of a turkey dinner. $19.99.
5. Riesling from Urban, Germany. You may remember this is the first German wine I’ve ever bought myself to drink. (I like it for Sunday brunch with smoked salmon, cream cheese, etc.). From the Mosel area, the winery that makes this Riesling is St-Urban Hof and last year one of their Spatlese Rieslings got 98 points in Wine Spectator. But, the Urban Riesling is medium body, has soft acidity with full fruit flavors of lemon, pine needles, mango and pear. Although not sweet, technically, this wine is also liked by those who prefer a bit of sweetness in their wines. Like most German wines, this is not a very alcoholic wine, but, guess what? That makes it easy to sip more of it all day long! $10.99.
6. Torrontes from Trivento Amado Sur, Argentina: The label says Torrontes with little bits of Viognier and Chardonnay, this medium-bodied wine has intense fruit flavors (white peach, yellow apple, red pear, pink grapefruit and cinnamon). The extra bits of the two latter varieties add layers to the whole package. Good acidity makes it go well with food, and this wine tastes as good very cold as it does at room temperature. $10.99.
7. Viognier from Peirano, California: Viognier is always a good match for Thanksgiving dinner. This one has some oak aging so it’s big and flavorful. Viognier always has peach and apricot and almond and hazelnut and floral perfume flavors and then add the cinnamon/baking spice of the oak and this one is quite something. Usually $12.99, but a deal for $9.99. Lucky us!
8. Dogajolo White from Carpineto, Tuscany, Italy: The label on this bottle is a picture of olive tree branches. Made from Chardonnay, Grechetto (an indigenous variety in Tuscany) and Sauvignon Blanc. We all have a hard time with the name of this wine, so we just call it Dog White. This wine is a great package of flavors and textures, clean and dry, a bit earthy, but that makes it go well with potatoes, mushrooms, sage and breading. $12.99.
9. Parallel 45 Cotes du Rhone from Jaboulet, France: White Cotes du Rhone wines are much rarer than the red ones, but, when you find a good one, there’s nothing like it. This one is made with 50 percent Grenache Blanc and some Marsanne, some Viognier and Bourboulenc. The key to really enjoying a white Cotes du Rhone is don’t get it too cold. I always do just 30 or 40 minutes in the fridge. That way the heavy weight of the wine comes through and it pairs perfectly with lots of food. $9.99.
10. Scaia White from Italy, the Veneto region. Maybe you remember this one — I thought it tasted so much like a California wine that I would have guessed wrong without the bottle. A blend of Garganega, Trebbiano and Chardonnay, it’s smooth and mellow. This wine’s bottle is pretty too, clear with just some gold lettering. $13.99.
And, that is my White Wine Revue. If I were coming to your house for Thanksgiving, I’d be happy with a glass of any of these. Happier maybe with a glass of each, but some of us have to work the next day. Or go mall shopping at midnight after eating and drinking all day. Ugh!
Just so you know, I didn’t repeat any of the wines that we’ve talked about just in the last month. I assumed, or hoped at least, that those we all still remember. Enjoy!