Thank the lord, it is Thanksgiving time again. I am not one to be bothered by all those deals in the stores, waiting in line at 2:30am and fighting the throngs of people clamouring for $300 flat screen TVs. Oh no my friends, Christmas shopping must be done no earlier than 2 days before Christmas Eve. This time of year must be spent eating and drinking your way into an ‘itis that can only be cured by a sharp jolt from a defibrillator. I am of course speaking of Thanksgiving dinner and all of the over eating, over drinking family fun that I love oh-so-much. Now, you must already understand where this article is going. What is the best wine to serve at your dinner table next Thursday? By all accounts, this is no simple question to answer. Theories have been put across from every direction on what is the best wine to have with the most diabolical of all family dinners known to man.
Thanksgiving is such a mish-mash of flavours that you could drink just about anything. It is almost impossible to pick one wine that goes with the 18 different dishes and especially more difficult when you have that one strange aunt who just arrived back from a 10 year stint in Mexico and is trying that new gluten free, vegan, indiscernible dish that nobody wants to eat. Count it up; you have the turkey, cornbread or sausage stuffing, green beans, cranberry sauce, sweet potato, mash potato, gravy, collard greens, creamed corn, mac n’ cheese, broccoli casserole and whatever else your hipster cousin from Brooklyn is bringing from the farmers market.
Let me break this down. What you need to have is an entry/welcoming wine and no less than 2-3 wines for the main event. If you are keen for dessert wine, then by all means go for it. Something sweet and delicious that would work with all your favourites such as pumpkin pie and apple pie. This will most likely be a smorgasbord of more food that you reluctantly force down the old gully. Choose wisely and go with a dessert wine that would work with many foods.
Entry drink. Start with something light such as sparkling wine, champagne, rose or another white that won’t necessarily break the bank and is going to make everyone a bit more social. Choose a wine that you don’t mind buying a lot of and could still be used the next week or two as an every day beverage. We may recommend our Tariquet Vin Blanc, $13.95 from Gascogne (Gascony), France. It’s a blend from the region which is located just south of Bordeaux. I promise, you will not mind buying few cases of this, especially with its price tag, and, besides…it’s just the warm up. We do have a few other options but please come down and we can explore what is best for you. Here’s the shortlist:
Vitteaut Alberti Rose NV (Cremant de Bourgogne) $25.90
Thienot Brut NV (Champagne) $55.50
Parusso Rossato 2013 (Italian Rose) $22.00
The Main Event. As I said, have between 2-3 options for your guests to try. Remember, this is a family meal. No need to be too fancy, place the bottles on the table and let the guests serve themselves. Why impress your daughters new boyfriend? Let him drink water! To make this easier, let’s separate the wines and discuss reds, whites and others.
Pinot Noir is king when it comes to red wine on Turkey Day. My personal favourite is a good quality producer from Oregon. You get a great forward fruit profile, while still retaining a touch of earthiness and tannin that are also found in Burgundy Pinot’s. Oregon is certainly the best mix between new world and old world. We have a few options starting at A to Z and all the way up to the best single vineyard Pinot Noir available in Oregon.
Gamay is a versatile grape grown in the Beaujolais region of Burgundy. Don't get it twisted, this is not the grog you used to slosh back in college. The single vineyard Beaujolais we carry are some of the best the region has to offer. Great with red and white meat, these wines have delicious fruit profiles and will show your guests that you have the same taste as some of the best somms in the world! That's right ladies and gentlemen, Beaujolais is becoming en vogue in the wine world. If you feel that this is all a little un-American than we actually have an alternative that hails from the Monterey County region of California.
If you are looking for a wine with a bit more cojones then Merlot would be your best bet. Merlot has all that rich dark fruit that will stand up to the more savoury dishes but lacks that serious tannin that may not be well received from the wine novices in the group. There are number of options we have in this field such as those by Charles Smith, Bogle, L'Ecole, J. Lohr and many others. We even have some French (Merlot dominated) wines that are also phenomenal.
If none of these varietals work well for you, don't be shy. Drink what you want, we are merely here to guide you in the right direction and not tell you what you should like. As I said earlier, almost anything will go well with a turkey dinner. But please remember one thing: tannins need fat and fat needs tannin! Turkey is very lean which is why you should steer away from anything too “rustic". This includes young Bordeaux, Sangiovese and Nebbiolo.
Chardonnay, Chardonnay and Chardonnay! I cannot over emphasise the royal beauty this wine can bring to the table. Is that Queen Elizabeth sitting next to you? No, it's a kick ass bottle of Chardonnay that is owning that Butterball turkey. Many options are out there for you- France, Chile, USA and New Zealand; oaked or unoaked. Whether you like them buttery or bursting with acidity, we have the options and the tasting experience to guide you in the right direction. There are so many wines to choose from I would just bore you with mundane lists of names I can't even pronounce. Better to just come to the warehouse and make fun of my accent as I try to mumble those French producers that I love so much.
Viognier is another rich and aromatic wine than could stand up to all the flavours invading your palette. This can be a very lush wine with great acidity. It is also a difficult grape to grow, so when you do see it, chances are the quality will be present and again, prove to your friends and family that you are not afraid to veer from the status quo and be the new wine guru, the loathe of the whole table.
Riesling could be one of the most versatile wines in the world. You may never see one wine that is available in so many forms from the most bone dry sparkling German Sect to the most seductive, dark and orgasmic Trockenbeerenauslese (say that three times fast!). We recommend going with the dryer style German Rieslings and possibly one with a touch of residual sugar. That sweetness would complement those sweet potatoes and cranberry sauce and at the same time counter the salty, crispy turkey skin and other more savoury sides offered at the table. The main producer we carry, Reichsgraf von Kesselstatt has been around for at least 650 years. I think they know how to make a great wine. They produce those sparklers I love so much, some liquid gold they call Josephshöfer #6 Auslese 2011, $59.50 and everything else in between. Actually the more I talk about it, the more I see this wine on my table this Thanksgiving.
Others. Consider this to be the Joker of the night. Make this wine the Benny who will trump all other wines on the table. Pick anything, get funky. Try something nobody will ever see coming. A sparkling Chenin Blanc from Loire Valley (we have that), a rose made from Nebbiolo in the Piedmont region of Italy (got that too) or even do a Champagne. Remember, I did say that Chardonnay is a great choice, why not throw in some bubbles. Everyone likes drinking Champagne but nobody ever thinks to actually have it as the focus wine of a meal. Why does Champagne have to be reserved to cocktail parties and wedding toasts? Pick up a great vintage bottle of Blanc de Blanc such as our Deutz 2008, $89.75. 100% Chardonnay leading to 100% satisfied guests at your dinner table.
Above all else, pick something you are sure to enjoy. There is nothing worse than second guessing yourself and feeling disappointed that you made the wrong decision. Nobody needs any of your tears dripping in the gravy boat as you sob uncontrollably at the dinner table.
Go into this holiday season feeling confident, do your homework, get a bottle this weekend if you are not sure and try it before you serve it. Better yet, come to Discovery Wines on Saturday. We will be cracking up to four different wines that we feel are solid choices for your Thanksgiving dinner. We have a fantastic team here to help make this Thanksgiving one for the record books. Allow our team, to make your dream, come true.