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

 

 

 

 

What Wine Will You Be Drinking Easter Sunday?

For many of us, Easter Sunday is April 5, 2015,  and we will be celebrating with family and lambfriends.  Traditionally Easter dinner is Ham, Lamb or perhaps Fish.  Even if you’re not  celebrating Easter, you may want to take advantage of the lower prices on these items this time of year.

If  you’re  serving a lamb dish, one that has garlic, velvet devilherbs and salts, or mint, or perhaps even lemon, you would do well to open a bottle of a nicely rounded Merlot.   Merlot wine will allow the seasonings of the Lamb to come forward and will not obscure the flavor of your entree.  We recently had a lovely Merlot called The Velvet Devil.  This wine is produced in Mattawa, Washington.   The price on this Merlot should run about $12.00 to $15.00.   I enjoyed this wine for the fruit forward plummy taste which was accented with a bit of chocolate.  Very soft tannins and a nice  finish on this wine.

For those of you serving Ham, I’d go with a white wine.  If you’re going with the traditional easter_hampineapple/orange sauce and brown sugar, you would do well with a medium-oaked Chardonnay or a White Burgundy.  The Chardonnay would be something along the line of  Hess, Kendal Jackson or my favorite, Reata.  Generally speaking, if your Chard comes from the Napa/Sonoma area or Lodi (Central Valley) region of California, it will have a bit more vanilla and butter flavor to it.  If  it comes from France or the California Coast, you will have more crispness to it.

These wines are dry enough to keep the sweetness of the fruit sauce from becoming too sweet.  They will counter balance your ham and the spring vegetables (Asparagus, Spring Beans, Fennel, Peas) you may be serving with your ham.   If you’re going with a spicier version of ham, one with spicy mustard, cloves and coriander, then you will want to reach for a Dry Riesling.   Make sure it is a Dry Riesling, any other Riesling will be too sweet and should be served with dessert, not the entree. Dry_Riesling My favorite Dry Riesling is  Chateau Ste. Michelle from the Columbia Valley.  This wine will hold up to any spicier dish, especially if you’re leaning towards the Asian or Indian influence in your seasonings.  It will pair beautifully with Spiral Ham with Mustard Glaze and roasted potatoes or Au Gratin Potatoes.  This is also a nice wine for an aperitif.

If you want to serve a red wine with your ham, try a Pinot Noir from Oregon or France.   The Pinot Noirs coming from Oregon or France will be subtle enough to allow the flavor of the ham to come through and not over power it.   If you’re serving a sweet, fruity ham, a dry Rosé wine (Cab Franc based)  is as red as I would go.

If fish is your entree of choice, your wine decision should be based on the style or sauce that you’re serving with your fish.  Basically, if it’s a lightly herbed or lemon based, such as a roasted salmonRoasted Salmon & Asparagus with Lemon Oil (recipe here)  then you want a light, delicate white such as a Chablis, Chenin Blanc or Steel Aged Chardonnay.  My pick fopine ridger this would be the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/ Viognier  (This is just a beautiful white to have in your house at all times).

If you’re going with a spicier style of sauce or grilled shellfish (recipe for Spicy Grilled Shrimp here) then you’ll want to go into the more complex whites such as a White Burgundy or Dry Riesling.  Finally, if you’re doing a tomato based sauce then you can get away with a Sangiovese (a true Sangiovese, not a Chianti) or perhaps a Malbec or Pinot Noir.  Choose a red that is robust in flavor but not overly tannic.  Lean towards the dark red fruits.  I would choose a Rosso di Montalcino.  The rules for a Rosso di Montalcino make it a true Sangiovese, not a Chianti which helps to keep the tannis down and the fruit forward.

Now, with all of this Easter entree talk, I don’t want to leave out the Easter brunch cbanfirowd.  Basically, if I was doing an Easter brunch, I would offer either Mimosas (Champagne and Orange Juice)  or a slightly sweet Prosecco as an aperitif before the meal.  Banfi Rosa Regale is a beautiful slightly sweet prosecco that would be a lovely way to start the day.   I like to add a clean, de-stemmed strawberry to the bottom of my glass when serving a Prosecco.

If  you’re going with the quiches, eggs, stratas, then stick with the lighter whites such as a Pinot Grigio,   If you want bubbles, then choose a dry Prosecco such as Mionetto Prosecco DOC Treviso Brut.  The flavors of this Prosecco lean towards peaches and apricots with light hints of lemon and toast. This is a very affordable option and usually available.

If you’re celebrating Easter or not, I hope you have a lovely Sunday this first week in April.  I’m serving ham, what will you be serving?