Wines to Enjoy with your Thanksgiving Meal

thanksgiving wineFor my readers in the U.S.A., Thanksgiving will soon be upon us.  Next week!   This means a feast of turkey or ham, or perhaps shellfish (the Northeastern Indians incorporated clam chowder into their diet long before the albarino-wine-0810-mPilgrims landed).   Turkey, Ham, Fish – sounds like white wine to me – right?  Not exactly.  While there are no hard and fast rules about which wine to drink with what food, it is a beautiful thing when the wine and food complement each other to bring out the best in your meal.

There are many lovely white wines out there, and yes, they go beautifully with Turkey, Ham and Fish, but when enjoying a day like Thanksgiving, fennel and citrus saladdon’t limit yourself to white wine.  Definitely start with white.  Start with a Prosecco or sparkling white.  Enjoy your deviled eggs, baked brie or iced shrimp while sipping an Albariño or Pinot Grigio.  Enhance your Fennel and Citrus Salad with a Grüner Veltliner, Vermentino, or Vinho Verde.  Yes, these are all white wines and they pair beautifully with your apps and saladssyrah.  Now, when moving onto the main course, think red.  Instead of a Pinot Noir, think about serving a light-bodied Syrah, one grown in a cooler climate such as Washington or Northern Rhône.   I recently enjoyed a lovely Syrah; a 2014 Les Vignes d’ à Côté from Yves Cuilleron.  If you are unsure of the region where your Syrah comes from (no information on the bottle), check the alcohol level.  The lighter syrahs will be under 14% ABV.

A light-bodied Syrah will allow the flavors of the turkey or ham to come through and will not overwhelm any seafood you are serving.  Another light bodied red to consider serving to your guest would be a Côtes du Rhône.

cote-du-rhone-winesThere is a lot to learn about a Côtes du Rhône wine.  I’m not going to expand on it now, but I will tell you these are the basic wines of the Rhône region.  They come in a red, white, and rosé variety.  I’m talking about the red right now.  The reds contain a blend of Grenache noir, Syrah, Cinsault, Carignane, Counoise and Mourvèdre grapes varieties.  Not all reds will have all varieties, but they will all have Grenache in the blend.   Look for a Southern Rhône, one that is medium to light in color.  You can pair this wine without worry.  This wine will not upstage anything you’re serving to your guests for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner; turkey, goose, ham, pork roast.

If you really want a white wine to go with your turkey, then try to find a roussaneRoussanne.  Roussanne is a white wine grape grown in the Rhône region of France, typically used as a blending grape, this grape makes a fabulous wine all on its own.  You will also find this grape in Châteauneuf-du-Pape.  This grape is also found growing in California, Washington as well as Australia, Italy and Spain.  My favorite Roussanne wines come from France.   With honey and pear notes, together with a light acidity, you will find a French Roussanne is the wonderful complement to your turkey.

Of course you will be serving much more than just the protein.   You will certainly have potatoes, perhaps both mashed and sweet, and a thanksgiving dinnergreen vegetable, possibly a green-bean casserole or asparagus with parmesan cheese.  If you’re not serving sweet potatoes, you’re sure to have butternut squash.  Carrots may make their way to your table, along with corn and onions.  And, if you’re serving turkey, don’t forget the stuffing (I make mine with apples and sausage), and cranberry sauce.  For those of you serving ham, you’ll need to add some bourbon-orange glaze to this list.  Now, just how well will a Roussanne, Syrah or Côtes du Rhône wine go with all of this?  Perfectly!

Has anyone mentioned pie lately?  For dessert, you will want to sherrybring out a different style of wine.  If you’re serving pumpkin pie (yum, my favorite), try to steer clear of the sweet dessert wines, look for something with a little raisin and hazelnut flavor to it.  Something along the line of Amontillado style of Sherry.  Yes, Sherry.  This will bring out the cinnamon/nutmeg goodness of your pumpkin pie.

pie and wineFor apple pie, one leaning towards the tart side, I would suggest a rich white dessert wine, perhaps a German Riesling or Sauterne.   Pecan pie calls for Madeira.

If you are completely stuffed and cannot eat one more bite, end your festivaties with Iced Wine.   I particularly like the Ice Wine that comes from the Finger Lakes area of  Up State New York or the Quebec region of Canada.  Okay, so you may want iced wine and cheesea slice of aged cheddar or Vermont Plymouth Blue Cheese to go with this, go ahead, it’s Thanksgiving.

 

bon appetite

 

 

 

 

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Fall Into Wine

hello octoberThis is a wonderful time of year.  Autumn.  I love the colors and the weather.  Living in New England is a fabulous experience during the Autumnal months.  Figuring out what wine to drink is not as wonderful.  One day the weather is 70 or higher, the next day the temps are in the 30’s.  Sunday dinner is Barbeque Ribs, Tuesday we’re eating Chicken Stew.  How do you know what to drink with this up-down thing?

With the onset of the cooler temperatures, I’m tempted to put decoyaway most of my whites and dry Rosés.  This seems reasonable and logical but it is perhaps not the best course of action.  If you’re in a colder climate, you can definitely put away the Vino Verde and the Albarino wines, these should be consumed when the weather is hot and they are chilled.  The Sauvignon Blancs and rounded Chardonnays that you have from the Northern Hemisphere will still be something to enjoy.

zucchini pastaYou can pull those Northern Hemi Sauvs and Chardonnays out when you’re serving a white based pasta dinner such as Chicken Alfredo or Zucchini Pasta II, or anything with mild seasonings.  Add a White Burgundy to your Roast Chicken dinner, it will pair beautifully. Just because the temps are getting cooler, doesn’t mean you need to put all of the white wines away.

However, if you’re like me, and turn to fall winethe comfort food when the weather starts to chill, then you’ll need to stock up on the reds.  Not the Big Bad Boys (Chianti, Barolo, Super Tuscan), more along the line of the gentle, kinder reds.  Reds such as Gamay (Beaujolais), roasted pork Grenache, Pinot Noir and Malbec.  Other than the Pinot Noir, these are reds that are not in the usual rotation of red wines, but they are fabulous for the foods we’re cookingiced pumpkin cookies during the Fall season.  Think of these reds when you’re serving a Herb Roasted Pork with a Tangy Glaze, yum.  The Pinot Noir would be the obvious choice but the Grenache would be my choice.  Save the Big Bad Boys for January, when you’re cooking robust stews and Baked Ziti.

For a super Fall FoliagCotes-du-Rhonee Dinner, serve an Autumn Pork Roast, complete with Butternut Squash and Applesauce, add some roasted new potatoes.  For desert, try Iced Pumpkin Cookies.  I would open a  Côtes du Rhône  with this dinner.   Now is the time to bring out the root vegetables (carrots, snowpotatoes, onions, parsnips) served roasted with rosemary. you can dish up this group of veggies with any braised or slow cooked meat.  Open a Cru Beaujolais, you’ll be glad you did.

Although many say October is the time for “Pumpkin Everything”, I would rather say October is the time for a “Well Balanced Wine with Anything”.

And don’t forget – November 7th is International Merlot Day – yes – November is the perfect month for drinking Merlot.

November 7th International Merlot Day
November 7th
International Merlot Day