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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

You picked a fine wine to serve me, Lucille

When choosing the right wine for Thanksgiving, balance is key...obscure Kenny Rogers references are also important.

By Steve Siciliano

When folks talk about all the Thanksgiving food they look forward to eating, invariably it's the side dishes they gush over most. I'm not saying the roasted, baked or deep-fried turkey doesn't get its due praise, it just seems that more often than not the bird has to share the spotlight with the stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, candied yams and countless other dishes that make up this annual November feast.

Because there are so many different flavors vying for attention on the typical Thanksgiving dinner plate, I feel that special care should be given when choosing the wines to accompany the meal. A big red would overpower not just the turkey but many of the side dishes as well. Conversely, a delicate white wine would be nothing more than a lackluster footnote when up against the bountiful flavors of the Thanksgiving table.

After many years of trial and error I've discovered that two varietals in particular are perfect accompaniments to the Thanksgiving feast, Pinot Noir and Gewurztraminer. A Pinot Noir's soft tannins, balanced acidity and bright fruits pair well with the flavors of the turkey, and the floral aromas and spiciness of a good Gewurtztraminer will help bring out nuance and character on even the most diverse menues.

Our wine buyer, Sarah "The Cheetah" Derylo, has made sure that our wine room is well stocked with both of these feast-enhancing varietals. A few of our favorites are detailed below.

  • Heron Pinot Noir 2010, $12.19  - "An elegant composition of sustainably farmed grapes from several of California's cool, marine influenced micro-climates. Ripe red berry and black cherry fruit balance its delicate spiciness."
  • Primarius Pinot Noir 2009, $16.49 - Silky with layers of fruit that unfold on the palate, this Oregon Pinot Noir lives up to its name: Primarius, Latin for distinguished. Sourced from high quality Oregon vineyards, Primarius speaks of the state's idyllic climate for producing Pinot Noir.
  • Firestone Santa Ynez Valley Gewurztraminer 2008, $13.59 - "Our Gew├╝rztraminer comes from the estate Firestone Vineyard in the Santa Ynez Valley. Th is historic site features a cool-climate, maritime-influenced climate that accentuates the character of the variety" (source).
  • Shady Lane 2009 Estate Grown Gewurztraminer, $14.39 - "This wine is a tribute to fruit and spice with tangerine and melon and a hint of rose petal. Perfect with any spicy dishes or your favorite shellfish."
Happy Thanksgiving!

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