Columnist reveals tasty, affordable picks for the Holidays!
As I get older, the holidays seem to come by faster and faster. I can’t believe that Thanksgiving is almost upon us. I have mentioned my friend Terri in Georgia before and she has already started on her guest list. The menu gets done over several times as she checks what she has put up over the summer and fall. As her husband is an avid hunter, there will always be game on their table in addition to the more usual offerings that most of us serve.
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and to some extent New Year’s Eve are the most difficult in terms of food and wine pairing. In addition, I have self-imposed monetary constraints regarding what I think should be spent on wine. For everyday drinking, no more than $10 or so for a standard bottle, and for special occasions and holidays around $20 for the same size.
A wide range of tastes present themselves this time of year! Sweet, salty, sour with different proteins — all of which call for different styles of wine.
When I was still having the entire family over for Thanksgiving, it wasn’t unusual to have 24 or so in for dinner. I would have shrimp cocktail, raw oysters, cheese and sausages as appetizers.
Dinner would start with soup and proceed to the main course, which would be turkey with bread stuffing and fresh ham stuffed with sausage and served with apple cider gravy. Of course, there would be veggies ranging from asparagus to stuffed mushrooms with turnips, sweet and mashed potatoes
There would be several styles of bread and desserts, varying from homemade pies (Mom’s apple and minced) to store-bought Italian pastries. Cannoli were always a favorite! This feast would start around 2 pm continuing until 7 or 8, with many a break from the table.
So at best, wine presentations will require a compromise.
I suggest the following wines – two whites and two reds — as possibilities for your holiday table.
New Age from Argentina. This is the most popular white wine in Argentina. It is served in a pitcher with ice and a whole squeezed lime. Due to the acidity inherent in the wine and from the lime, this wine cuts through the fat and sweetness of many of the Thanksgiving offerings.
Jaume Serra Cristalino from Spain. This Cava (sparkling wine) is another white, which can pair with virtually anything. Sparkling wine has an appeal to many as it is perceived as elegant and festive and adds a great presence to the table. I recommend the Extra Dry, which has a nice balance of acid and sweetness while not being bone dry.
2015 Beaujolais Nouveau from France- This red is a young, fruity, low-in-tannins wine that pairs well with turkey, pork, ham and to a lesser extent venison and game. This wine‘s taste appeals to almost everyone and is served chilled. It is relatively low in alcohol and can be served with both the appetizer, soup and main courses. Probably will go well with chocolate desserts but not pies!
Meiomi Pinot Noir 2013from California-This red is among the best ‘under $20’ Pinot’s that I have found. Most Pinot’s are in the $30 and up category. This wine pairs with everything on the holiday table including the desserts. It has an elegant taste and a good aroma. A wine to be drunk early, as it isn’t suitable for prolonged aging — no more than three years in my opinion.
LE BEAUJOLAIS NOUVEAU EST ARRIVE
Beaujolais Nouveau will probably be the youngest, freshest wine you will ever drink. Six to eight weeks before you pick up your glass, this wine was bunches of grapes hanging in a French vineyard.
Celebrated in both Beaujolais and Lyons, the cult of Beaujolais Nouveau is attributed to Georges Debouf who came up with the idea of having a race to see who could get the Nouveau wine across the Atlantic the fastest.
This tradition started around 1985 and became wildly popular. Apparently, this wine has traveled by every mode of transportation from the Concorde to hot air balloons. Today, the wine is shipped early and released at 12:01 on the 3rd Thursday of November.
Made from the Gamay grape, the wine is produced by a process known as Carbonic Maceration where whole berry grapes are placed in an atmosphere containing no oxygen only carbon dioxide. The grapes at the bottom are crushed and fermentation begins releasing more carbon dioxide.
The remaining grapes are fermented from the inside of the berry and when the berry splits the juice is already wine. This method produces a wine with virtually no tannins and a very fruity taste with aromas of bananas and red berries.
This is a wine that is meant to be drunk chilled and drunk enthusiastically — not sipped! If pressed (no pun intended), this could be the only wine that you need to bring to your Thanksgiving feast.
Due to the strength of the dollar this year, I am hoping that the Nouveau will be offered at around $10-11 for 750 ml bottles. Almost every wine store will have some in stock. If you enjoy the wine, wait a while before buying more as some stores run specials to dispose of the unsold stock due to its shorter lifespan.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING, EVERYONE!!