Since there seem to be so many Thanksgiving Dinner wine recommendations, I can’t help but to add my own. After decades of laborious research, drinking and eating. I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no one single wine that goes with Thanksgiving Dinner. My recommendation is simply to have a variety of different wines. So, name your wine. You could have Chardonnay, Viognier, Aligoté, Gamay, Cabernet, Mourvèdre, Sangiovese or Meunier. They’re all okay. As far as pairing wine with thanksgiving dinner, the only real culinary faux pas would be to not have quantité.
Start a fun Halloween tradition with this tasty wine. This bold, earthy red wine, known as Bikavér in Hungary, is a blend of kadarka, pinot noir, baco noir and tempranillo. This wine stampedes across your palate, imprinting flavors of plum, blackberry, licorice, vanilla and black pepper.
Gard Vintners 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon (Columbia Valley) - Vanilla and dark cherry flavors saturate your palate then give way to secondary flavors of sweet tobacco, black pepper, violet and rosemary. The tannins are impressive and create a long, following finish.
I was stunned during my Sommelier training to learn how much the taste and characteristics of wine are influenced by the soil in which the vines are grown. As the vine roots burrow through the earth, they absorb the mineral characteristics of each soil-type or rock layer they penetrate. Rieslings from Germany are notorious for their slate-like taste derived from the layers of native slate between loose soil. The Terra Rossa soil (clay overlying limestone) found in the Coonawarra region of Australia gives the Cabernet Sauvignon produced there a distinctive, earthy, spicy characteristic. The same is true for the flinty tasting French Chardonnays from the Puligney-Montrachet region, whose roots are deeply entrenched in layers of flint rock.
Oregon wines also possess a regional taste. More specifically, the Willamette Valley possesses a variety of soil types from the various floods, volcanic activity and ocean sediment that has accumulated throughout the passage of millions of years. Each sub-region of the Willamette Valley has its own unique tastes and characterists particular to that individual locale. The red, silt, clay Basalt soils surrounding Dundee create earthy, truffle-like spices and red fruit notes in their Pinot noirs. Yamhill, McMinnville, Chehalem and Ribbon Ridge AVAs contain an ocean sedimentary soil which creates wines that possess black fruit, brown spices, tobacco and chocolate. The Eola Hills are composed of purely volcanic soils and produce a Pinot with notes of dark fruit, spice and mineral.
The next time you enjoy a glass of wine, you may attribute the flavors you detect to the winemaker or varietal of grape, but it is actually the soil that deserves the credit for the experience.
The wine-producing region of Piedmont, often called the “Burgundy of Italy,” is one of the most viticulturally versatile areas in the world. Located in the foothills of the Alps in Northwest Italy, Piedmont consists of 142,000 acres of vineyards. The region produces 7 wines that have received the highest distinction of quality, DOCG status*. There are also 44 DOC wines* with styles ranging from lightly, delicate whites like Moscato to the viscous and velvety Nebbiolo. The seven DOCG wines in this region consist of Asti, Gavi, Brachetto d’ Acqui, Barbaresco, Barolo, Gattenara and Ghemme.
Only the first two are white and the latter four all contain the Nebbiolo grape. In fact, both Barbaresco and Borolo only contain Nebbiolo, with the difference in style being a reflection of the variances in the climate and soil. The forty-four DOCs include Barbera d’Alba, Barbera d’Asti, Carema, Dolcetto d’ Alba, Erbuance di Caluso, Langhe, Monferrato, and Nebbiolo d’ Alba.
Some of the best wines in the world, including one of my favorites, Barolo, come from Piedmont. If you are not familiar with these wines, I would encourage you to sample the distinctive and diverse wines from this region.
* In Italy, wines are demarcated according to their consistency and quality by one of four designations - Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG), Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC), Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT) and Vini da tavola. DOCG is the highest designation, signifying wines of the best quality and consistency. DOC status is granted upon wines of very high quality, though not quite to the level of the DOCG wines.
When one thinks of German wines, one automatically thinks of big blonds…I mean white wines. You know, the typical Riesling, Müller-Thurgau or Silvaner. However, on occasion you will find a seductive red with great body that comes from Germany. The most common red German wines being Spätburgunder (pinot noir), Portugieser, Trollinger and Dornfelder.
I’ve discovered a wonderful Dornfelder wine made by Sander Winery just outside of Frankfurt. This organically grown red wine possesses notes of red currant and boysenberry with delicate tannins and low acidity. In other words, it’s gulpable. The Dornfelder grape was actually an experimental hybrid created from the Helfensteiner and Heroldrebe grapes, whose primary purpose was to add color to blended wines.
Dornfelder wines pair well with regional sausages, barbequed meats, sauerbraten, and dark chocolate. Just a thought….a glass of Dornfelder with a Ruben Sandwich would be sehr gut.
The most gratifying occurrence for any wine drinker is to discover a great tasting wine for less than you’d expect to pay. I’m not talking about that wonderful little Barolo for $9.99 that was actually missing a 9. I’m talking about the wine you find yourself buying again and again because it tasted good yet was relatively inexpensive, so you felt like it was a good value for your money.
As a Sommelier I'm always getting requests to seek out the Holy Grail of all wines; a well-balanced, well-made Burgundy for $9.99 or less. I think that’s called a pipe dream. I did, however, find wines that I would consider a good value. The actuary in me demands a specific calculation to quantify, in precise terms, what constitutes a “good value”. I’ve devised an equation which takes into consideration the price and quality of the selection, then minimally adjusts for numerical accolades and the dust-on-the-bottle.
An example of an OK value would be because, although the wine is considered superb, you’re paying a high price for that prestige. I would consider Gazela Vinho Verde for $4.99 a good value because the quality of the wine is moderate even though the price is low. William Fevre Chablis is a great value since the quality is proportionately higher than the price. Lastly, Daou Cabernet Sauvignon for $25 would be an outstanding value because at $25 you get high quality wine.
At any price, the best wine is the wine that makes you happy.
If you just so happen find yourself passing by the quaint college town of Chico, California, you should definitely go out of your way to experience the Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Hoptimum Beer tour. Not only will you be blown away by the caliber of the tour itself, but the amazing beer samples at the end are a treat not be missed. As a bonus, you’ll come out much more knowledgeable about the craft beer brewing process, such as how the quality of the ingredients affects the final product, what hops are and even learn about the illustrious history of the founders.
When you think of the traditional St. Patrick’s Day dish, Corned Beef and Cabbage, one automatically thinks of whisky and beer, not wine. That may have something to do with the fact that Corned Beef and Cabbage is difficult to pair with wines due to the meat’s strong briny flavors and bold spices. This particular dish requires an off-dry and fruity white wine or a fruit forward and highly acidic red wine. Sorry, Baileys Irish Cream doesn’t count as a wine.
The best white wines to pair with Corned Beef and Cabbage include Pinot Blanc (from Alsace), Riesling, Fume Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. These particular white wines have tropical, citrus and pear flavors, as well as high acids.
Red wines that harmonize well with this dish include Pinot noir, Chianti Classico, Grenache and Shiraz, all of which typically possess dominant fruit flavors and nice acid, which will stand up to the boldness of the beef.
Now that we are starting to be inundated with images of chocolate for Valentine’s Day, here are some simple guidelines for pairing your goodies with wine. These pairings will ensure that you’ll bring out the best qualities in both the wine and chocolate, while not allowing one to dominate the other or creating a clash of flavors. First, there are two important rules to remember when pairing wine and chocolate.
Rule I – The wine should be at least as sweet, if not sweeter than the chocolate you are serving it with. Otherwise, the taste may veer towards sour.
Rule II - When pairing wines with chocolate, it’s better to match lighter, more elegant flavored chocolates with light-bodied wines and stronger flavored chocolates with full-bodied wines
(Slinkard, 2007). Here are some examples of pairings that you may want to try:
White Chocolate - pair with Sherry, Moscato d’Asti or Orange Muscat.
Milk Chocolate (This also applies to creamy chocolate mousse or chocolate cheesecake) - pair with a light bodied red such as a Merlot or Pinot noir. These also go well with whites such as Rieslings, Muscats or dessert wines.
Dark Chocolate - pair with full-bodied wines which have notes of roasted coffee or chocolate, such as Cabernet Sauvignon or Zinfandel.
Annette Solomon, CS