During the holidays we often focus on the family reunion aspect, and we too often forget the "giving thanks" part of Thanksgiving. Let's change that this year by showing appreciation for the many good things we have in our lives, starting with good wine. In recognition of that, I'll stop whining and instead provide some suggestions and insights on potential wine pairings for Thanksgiving.
During the holidays we often focus on the family reunion aspect, and we too often forget the "giving thanks" part of Thanksgiving. Let's change that this year by showing appreciation for the many good things we have in our lives, starting with good wine.
In recognition of that, I'll stop whining and instead provide some suggestions and insights on potential wine pairings for Thanksgiving.
The key to pairing wine for Thanksgiving dinner is to think of everything on the table, not just the turkey. The traditional wines that work with turkey, and all of the other scrumptious dishes on the Turkey Day table, include California zinfandels or an Italian primitivo, since it is a close cousin to zin, and pinot noir or syrah for reds. Select reds that aren't overly tannic, which is why pinot noir works very well.
White options include Gewurztraminer, Riesling, sauvignon blanc, and Viognier. Other great choices are any dry, or slightly sweet, rose wine or any good sparkling wine. Did I mention that great sparklers are good anytime?
My suggestions for zin are anything from Ridge, and I like the pricier offerings from Rosenblum. My pinot noir recommendations are Bethel Estates, Cambria, La Crema or Stoller.
For Gewurztraminer or Riesling, I suggest any from Meyer-Fonne, Trimbach Weinbach or Zind Humbrecht from France's Alsace region. For sauvignon blanc, try Merry Edwards ($29) from California and Domaine Cherrier ($20) or Domaine Fouassier ($22), both Sancerre's from France's Loire Valley. Fans of New Zealand sauvignon blanc will find their preferred wine from this region will also work well. Dashwood ($12) is a nice one.
My Viognier selection is France's Laurent-Miquel ($18). It's awesome.
For rose, Westport Rivers ($12) from Massachusetts is one of my favorites and is reasonably priced. Savion Rose d'Anjou ($12) from France would also fit the bill nicely. Or ask your local wine shop owner for recommendations.
For sparkling wine, Westport Rivers RJR ($22) is delicious and inexpensive. Alternately, anything from Champagne is delightful, and Thanksgiving may justify spending more. What better way to celebrate it than by toasting good fortune with the gold standard for bubbly?
Don't limit yourself to just one kind of these wines; offer guests a choice of several. They'll love you for it and enjoy themselves this holiday.
While I'm on the topic of giving thanks this holiday season, one of the things I'm grateful for is how wonderful people in the wine business are. I was reminded of this after meeting two Italian winemakers recently. Italians exude a true joy of living and are among the most pleasant and fun winemakers.
Mario Piccini is head of Tenute Piccini, one of Chianti's largest wineries. Over lunch with him, I sampled a half-dozen of their Chianti and super Tuscan wines. They were enjoyable and offer respectable quality and good value. The 2005 Piccini Chianti Classico Riserva ($22) was a wonderful, velvety wine with unique rich character and a bargain at its low price for a wine of this distinctive taste and quality.
A few nights later, I attended a wine dinner with Giorgio Rivetti, a genuine Italian wine god and the talent behind Piedmont's La Spinetta winery. It's one of my favorite wineries, although it is known for expensive wines, with the exception of its superb Moscato that retails for $22.
La Spinetta wines are skillfully produced and grapes aren't exposed to any chemicals in the vineyards, reflecting Rivetti's purist philosophy. All are perfectly balanced specimens of some of the finest wines on the planet. While La Spinetta has now expanded its artistry into Tuscany and these are also exceptionally well made, I have a distinct preference for their Barolo, Barbaresco, Barbera, and Moscato wines from Piemonte.
The 2005 La Spinetta Barbera Gallina ($45) is a somewhat pricey, but terrific, example of the best that can be achieved from this grape with care in the vineyard and skill in the winery. Due to its low tannin, incidentally, it would be a good choice for Thanksgiving, pairing well with everything except dessert and the cranberry sauce.
Mark P. Vincent is a Shrewsbury, Mass., resident who has a passion for wine. Contact him at email@example.com.