THANKSGIVING IS A hectic time, and wine pairings tend to end up playing second fiddle. Sure, Beaujolais is popular choice for its freshness and fruit-forward character. But consider attracting attention with these creative (and tasty) offerings:
Running With Bulls Tempranillo 2010 ($22): Who knew Australia was growing Tempranillo? It turns out the prime wine-growing Barossa region in South Australia is producing a lot of the traditionally Spanish red, and it’s quite good. This one, bottled by Rafa Vineyards is rich and spicy on the nose, with notes of cherry fruits. It’s nicely balanced with with medium acids and bold, but not overpowering tannins. If your Turkey sides trend towards the tangy and savory, this is a lovely choice. It may be even better in five years.
Wild Horse Cheval Sauvage Pinot Noir 2008 ($60): Along with Beaujolais, Pinot Noir is the most commonly suggested Turkey Day wine. Balanced fruit and smoke, along with very mild tannins, make good Pinot Noir a versatile food pairing wine. Cheval Sauvage, from California’s Santa Maria Valley AVA is a solid entry. Spicy and medium weight, there are tannins up front, but the lingering finish is one of sage and dried plum. Perfect against stuffings, cranberries and vegetable dishes, in addition to the big bird. Added bonus: Visit the Wild Horse Winery tasting room in Templeton, and your donation (instead of the usual tasting fee) will go to support the San Luis Obispo Food Bank.
Anna De Cordorniu Brut Rosé ($13): This sparkling Cava out of Spain works as an icebreaker before dinner, a tangy digestif after dinner, or an innovative pairing wine with the main course. More people are finding that sparkling wines work magnificently throughout the dinner hour, and the body given this rosé by the Pinot Noir (70%) is aided by the finesse of Chardonnay (30%). Buy an extra bottle or two—you’re going to be glad you did.
Echelon Collection Chardonnay, Napa Valley 2010 ($15): When it comes to white wines and Thanksgiving, you want something full-bodied, aromatic and flavorful: Viognier, a drier Gewurtztraminer, or an Argentinean Torrontes spring to mind. For the Chardonnay lover, Echelon, a California icon recently re-launched, pays homage to classic California Chards without going full-on oak and butter with their Collection Chardonnay. The color is a little darker than many of the current crisp Chardonnays, the nose fruity and floral, but still lean and clean. On the mouth, it is round and full, with a good balance of fruits and acids, and a bit of weight on the mid-palate. A hint of spicy minerality reminds you this is 2011, not 1985, and will cut heavy Thanksgiving fare beautifully.
Domaine du Tariquet Classic 2010 ($10): Another food-friendly white, this dry fruity, floral wine is crafted from 70% Ugni Blanc and 30% Colombard (the grapes most commonly used for Cognac). Importer Robert Kacher is a longtime advocate of whites from the Gascony region of southwestern France (and the Grassa family’s innovative wines in particular), and their casual, approachable nature. While this drinks beautifully with a charcuterie/cheese appetizer before sitting down to dinner, the subtle earth notes will also complement a savory fall menu.
Thirsty for more? Check out National Spirits Examiner or NY Drinks Examiner.
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FTC Disclaimer: The author sometimes receives product samples for review, which carry no cash value and cannot be re-sold, and sometimes attends press events such as lunches or cocktail parties, designed to promote a given product. The author is not paid by any alcohol manufacturer, retailer or distributor, or provided compensation apart from revenue from an assigning publishing company for editorial publication. Opinions are the author’s own. By the way, you should be 21 or older to read this page. The author has received samples or attended events for all these wines. But they’re still really great options for Thanksgiving. Moreso than Aunt Emily’s marshmallow and sweet potato casserole.