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Thanksgiving Wines You’ll Gobble Up PDF Print E-mail
Written by Bill Citara - BT Contributor   
November 2011

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

Pix_for_Vino_11-11This is a Thanksgiving Day wine column, and by the shop rules of the Union of Barely Employed Scribes, I’m required to list some of the things for which I’m thankful. So here goes…

I’m thankful the turkey is a slow, stupid bird with more meat on its bones than New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie; otherwise we’d be eating something a lot easier to catch, but not nearly as tasty, like tofurkey.

I’m thankful the Detroit Lions are finally a decent football team so we don’t have to watch them lay another giant egg on our TV screens this year. Our own hapless Dolphins will do that, instead.

And I’m really thankful for the batch of wines I discovered for this Thanksgiving Day column, because pairing wine with all the whackadoodle elements of the typical turkey day dinner is a real bitch, and every one of these is a winner.

I discovered something else, too -- that the best wines for your Thanksgiving meal are found outside the Cabernet-Chardonnay-Merlot Axis of Domination, especially at our column’s price point. Also that focusing on inexpensive bottles from France and Spain can yield wines that are sexier and more interesting to drink than one more flabby, oaky Chardonnay or sweet, grape juicy Cabernet Sauvignon.

The secret, I think, is balance. A good Thanksgiving Day wine has to be one helluva multi-tasker, playing nice with everything from mild-flavored meat to savory gravy to candy-ish sweet potatoes to tart cranberries to spice-laden pumpkin pie. So I went looking for wines with distinct but restrained fruit, soft tannins, and acidity, and with lower alcohol to help them better complement food. Also so you can drink more without getting hammered.

There’s a lot to be thankful for regarding the 2010 Spanish Quarter white wine blend. It costs $10, is available at Publix, and is such a terrific wine that I’d buy a case of it even if a holiday weren’t approaching.

The wine is a blend of 60 percent Chardonnay and 40 percent Albariño, combining the richness and tropical fruit flavors of the former with the floral, peach, and spice components of the latter. Full-bodied yet light on the palate, with soft lemon-lime green-apple acidity, it’s one of the best affordable white wines I’ve tasted all year.

A winery with a silly name, but serious intent, is Cupcake Vineyards. Though located on California’s Central Coast, it sources grapes from all over the world; in the case of its 2010 Mosel Valley Riesling, from Germany. The cute blue bottle and yellow label is festive enough, but what’s inside is even better -- a mouth-filling wine that hits you right off with a burst of ripe peach, mango, and melon fruit, quickly segueing into creamy Meyer lemon. With all that and only 9.5-percent alcohol, it’s a good choice for wine novices.

Rosé is considered a go-to Thanksgiving wine, as the 2010 Sauvion Rosé d’Anjou confirmed. It’s all bright raspberries and strawberries with the juiciness of ripe fruit (and an initial trace of sweetness), followed by a refreshing citrus acidity that slowly reveals itself on the back palate. Another rosé, the 2010 Chateau du Coudray Montpensier, was a nice enough wine but so stingy with fruit and briskly acidic, it’s better suited to seafood than the Thanksgiving table.

Two red varietals almost always mentioned as Thanksgiving staples are Pinot Noir and Beaujolais. The Fog Bank 2010 Monterey County Pinot Noir is another of those run-right-out-and-buy-a-case-of-this-stuff wines. For a $10 Pinot, it exhibits impressive varietal character, hints of earth and spice and toast and Burgundian funk in a light-bodied, very well-structured wine that, despite its youth, is eminently drinkable today.

Where the Fog Bank is lighter than most of its varietal brethren, the 2009 Louis Latour Beaujolais Villages is heftier than most of its fellow villagers. There’s earth, black olives, and anise in the nose. On the palate, there are tangy berries, soft orange and lemon, a little spice, and enough richness to stand up to heartier dishes.

For something heartier still, there’s the Luc Pirlet 2010 Minervois, a 50-50 blend of Grenache and Carignan that blasts open with aromas of mushrooms and olives, cherries and plums, then carries all those over to the palate, along with spice, soft tannins, and a short, tart finish -- something else to be thankful for when we’re passed out in front of the TV, stuffed like a Thanksgiving turkey.

 

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