Saturday, November 19, 2005

Thanksgiving and Wine Demystified (PB)

The day of the feast is just around the corner and if you didn’t know by now, the old rule about white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat is passe. I have seen recommendations from the “experts” ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc to Dry Riesling which only underscores the foundation of all gastronomic pursuits where it all comes down to what YOU like. But that being said, there are certain considerations in pairing wine with a dinner as diverse of flavors like the Thanksgiving spread.

Think about it; you have the subtle flavors and aromas of your green bean casseroles, turnips and mashed potatoes, but then you have the pungent spices of a great giblet dressing, and the somewhat challenging flavors of the various types of cranberry relishes, sauces, salads.

So what wine goes with it all? In my opinion, nothing goes with everything really well (except possibly a good sparkling wine). On top of that you have the additional factors of styles of wine made from the same grape. All Cabernets are not made alike; all Riesling are not made alike, etc. So just grabbing a wine because it’s made from a particular grape can be disappointing.

I find the most difficult element in the dinner is the cranberry sauce. Take a bite of such a relish, then sip a Cab or Zin or Pinot Noir and you’re likely to get a rather yucky, bitter taste in your mouth with an accompanying mouth feel that says, Eww! What to do?

It’s pretty simple really. Select a couple wines you know you like. Give yourself some variety; a Pinot Noir and a dry Riesling will give you some diversity. If you don’t like the one with what you’re eating, go to the other one. What I find is that usually nearly everything on my table will go with a particular wine like a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir for example–everything except the cranberry sauce! So, just don’t follow a bite of cranberries with a slosh of wine! Take some potatoes and gravy first and then enjoy the nice cleansing acid of the wine and nice fruit to follow. Pretty profound huh?

Whatever you do this Thanksgiving spend a little more on the wine you buy. Why demean such a work of love as the Thanksgiving feast with inferior wine? And finally, remember that we will all be sitting down to tables over flowing with food and most of us will eat so much we will hurt. Many in the world do not enjoy such bounty and while we are gathered with loved ones, our troops are fighting a war so that we may eat without fear of harm. Give thanks to the One who has smiled on our undertakings. Then, raise a glass!


Anonymous said...

Excellent advice!

Finger Lakes Weekend Wino said...

Thanks for the ideas. I believe I will bring a nice Sparkling Burgundy, and perhaps a Riesling, as well as my own homemade Peach Chardonnay to Thanksgiving dinner.
In what order do you think I should serve these. Dry to sweet or start with the Sparkling Burgundy? This is a good idea for a meme. What wines will you be serving with Thanksgiving dinner and why. I will add it on my blog.
Weekend Wino

Anonymous said...

Well done. Great advice and God bless our troops.

Anonymous said...

Burgundy wine
(French: Bourgogne or Vin de Bourgogne) is wine made in the Burgundy region in eastern France.[1] The most famous wines produced here - those commonly referred to as Burgundies - are red wines made from Pinot Noir grapes or white wines made from Chardonnay grapes. Red and white wines are also made from other grape varieties, such as Gamay and Aligoté respectively. Small amounts of rosé and sparkling wine are also produced in the region. Chardonnay-dominated Chablis and Gamay-dominated Beaujolais are formally part of Burgundy wine region, but wines from those subregions are usually referred to by their own names rather than as "Burgundy wines".

Burgundy has a higher number of Appellation d'origine contrôlées (AOCs) than any other French region, and is often seen as the most terroir-conscious of the French wine regions. The various Burgundy AOCs are classified from carefully delineated Grand Cru vineyards down to more non-specific regional appellations. The practice of delineating vineyards by their terroir in Burgundy go back to Medieval times, when various monasteries played a key role in developing the Burgundy wine industry. The appellations of Burgundy (not including Chablis).

Overview in the middle, the southern part to the left, and the northern part to the right. The Burgundy region runs from Auxerre in the north down to Mâcon in the south, or down to Lyon if the Beaujolais area is included as part of Burgundy. Chablis, a white wine made from Chardonnay grapes, is produced in the area around Auxerre. Other smaller appellations near to Chablis include Irancy, which produces red wines and Saint-Bris, which produces white wines from Sauvignon Blanc. Some way south of Chablis is the Côte d'Or, where Burgundy's most famous and most expensive wines originate, and where all Grand Cru vineyards of Burgundy (except for Chablis Grand Cru) are situated. The Côte d'Or itself is split into two parts: the Côte de Nuits which starts just south of Dijon and runs till Corgoloin, a few kilometers south of the town of Nuits-Saint-Georges, and the Côte de Beaune which starts at Ladoix and ends at Dezize-les-Maranges. The wine-growing part of this area in the heart of Burgundy is just 40 kilometres (25 mi) long, and in most places less than 2 kilometres (1.2 mi) wide. The area is made up of tiny villages surrounded by a combination of flat and sloped vineyards on the eastern side of a hilly region, providing some rain and weather shelter from the prevailing westerly winds. T

he best wines - from "Grand Cru" vineyards - of this region are usually grown from the middle and higher part of the slopes, where the vineyards have the most exposure to sunshine and the best drainage, while the "Premier Cru" come from a little less favourably exposed slopes. The relatively ordinary "Village" wines are produced from the flat territory nearer the villages. The Côte de Nuits contains 24 out of the 25 red Grand Cru appellations in Burgundy, while all of the region's white Grand Crus are located in the Côte de Beaune. This is explained by the presence of different soils, which favour Pinot Noir and Chardonnay respectively. Further south is the Côte Chalonnaise, where again a mix of mostly red and white wines are produced, although the appellations found here such as Mercurey, Rully and Givry are less well known than their counterparts in the Côte d'Or. Below the Côte Chalonnaise is the Mâconnais region, known for producing large quantities of easy-drinking and more affordable white wine. Further south again is the Beaujolais region, famous for fruity red wines made from Gamay. Burgundy experiences a continental climate characterized by very cold winters and hot summers. The weather is very unpredictable with rains, hail, and frost all possible around harvest time. Because of this climate, there is a lot of variation between vintages from Burgundy.
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