The Biscayne Times

Jul 17th
A Toast to the Turkey PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Citara, BT Contributor   
November 2016

Red, white, and you: Agreeable wine for $12 or less

TPix_Vino_11-16here are a few things less likely in South Florida than finding a single wine that pairs well with the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and its sundry trimmings.

A politician not on the take, for example. An uncongested stretch of I-95. Low humidity in July. Good service at a Miami restaurant. Mosquitos that don’t bite. A Dolphins team that doesn’t suck. Actually, that last is more like finding a needle-sized unicorn in the world’s largest haystack. But that’s for someone else’s column.

It’s not that the typical T-Day turkey ’n’ trimmings are any weirder than the foamy spherical gels that turned molecular gastronomy from a mildly interesting phenomenon into an annoyingly pretentious joke.

It’s that the meal most resembles the fabled elephant assembled by a collection of blind men -- most of its various components are about as compatible as Donald Trump and Megyn Kelly. It’s enough to make even the most dyed-in-the-tongue cork dork give up and reach for a beer.

Here at Vino, however, we’re made of sterner stuff. Or perhaps we’re just more delusional. Whatever. But we did come up with a handful of wines of varying grapes, styles, and provenance that should partner nicely with your Thanksgiving Day grub. My advice is to pick two distinctly different wines, thereby doubling your chances of satisfying your T-Day drinkers. Or at least halving your chances of failure.

The 2014 Castle Rock Pinot Noir is a creditable example of affordable California Pinots. It’s a little grapey -- fairly common at this price point -- but decently balanced, with black cherry and plum fruit, and a hint of cloves, toasty oak, and that subtle funk that makes Pinot Noir so intriguing.

The 2014 Smoking Loon, on the other hand, is an unfortunate example of why buying inexpensive Pinot Noir is a crapshoot. This wine already tastes old and starting to oxidize, its unpleasantly earthy aromas matched by its candied, cough syrupy flavors. Next....

Thanksgiving may not be much of a holiday in Spain and France, but that’s no reason why Spanish and French wines shouldn’t find a place on your table. The 2014 Campo Viejo Rioja Garnacha drinks much better than its $11 price tag, with unusual complexity and balance. Think aromas and flavors of fresh strawberries and red cherries, a touch of sweet spice, dusky notes of tobacco and black olives, all in a medium-bodied, food-friendly package.

From France comes the 2013 Buti Nages Rhône blend. Leading with Syrah and backed up by Grenache and Mourvèdre, it offers vibrant black cherry-berry fruit, a good shot of toasty oak and subtle anise flavors, all without being jammy or ponderous. If, like me, you smoke your Thanksgiving turkey, this is the wine to choose.

Pairing white wines with the typical T-Day meal is a bit more challenging. I prefer wines on the fruitier, less-acidic side, the better to withstand the rigors of sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, fruit-laced stuffings. Yalumba’s 2014 Barossa Riesling is not only a very nice wine, but at $10, a very nice value. Though you can taste the floral-honeysuckle-tropical tones, the wine is definitely not sweet, just engagingly ripe, balanced by a soft lemon-lime-grapefruit acidity.

Susana Balbo is one of Argentina’s best and best-known winemakers, and her 2015 Torrontes does nothing to harm her reputation. It’s floral and citrusy at the same time, showing off both tropical fruit and lemon-lime, with a rich, creamy texture uncommon in Torrontes. If both poultry and seafood are on your Thanksgiving menu, check out this wine.

Can’t find a red or white wine that speaks to your holiday table? Think pink. More specifically, think rosés from Provence. I’d be happy to pour the 2015 vintage of either Domaine des Martyrs or Domaine de Paris. The latter is light-bodied, best with seafood or a minimally garnished turkey, with elusive orange and berry flavors, lemony acidity, and winning minerality.

There’s no sacrificing with the Domaine des Martyrs. It feels both light and rich on the palate, with appealing citrus-strawberry aromas and flavors, and the characteristic Provençal minerals. It’s definitely something to be thankful for, even if the traffic is horrendous and the Dolphins still suck.


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