Food vibrant in spice and flavor inside of a bland building
November 18, 2020
Even if turkey isn’t on your menu, these wines should be
This year may be a unique Thanksgiving for you and your closest circle of family and friends. Turkey is optional in 2020, as it yields a lot of leftovers for a party of two to four people. A beef roast, chicken, or lasagna may be on your menu, which could generate new ideas on side dishes. My take on a meal with diverse flavors is to select middle-profile wines — ones that have balanced acidity or tannin, are very food flexible, and aren’t heavy in body or alcohol. These wines will not overpower your food, and will please most palates.
If you’re shopping by grape, here are some to look for:
White varietals: Dry Riesling (Kabinett), white Burgundy, chenin blanc, pinot gris, white blends, or dry Tokaji
Red varietals: Cabernet franc, merlot, Rioja, Chianti Classico, pinot noir, gamay (Beaujolais)
Rosé: Pink wines are a good choice with fowl and fish. For a wine with more body, select those that are made from malbec, cabernet sauvignon, or cabernet franc.
Below are some of my recommendations based on what you’re serving. Please do send me an email if you have any questions on other wines to pair with your special menu. I’d be happy to send a recommendation as part of our Concierge Thursday!
Suggested aperitif wines that can follow you to the table:
La Croix du Prieur 2019 Cotes de Provence Rose, France (Whole Foods, $19.99)
This winery has been in business since the middle ages. The wine has a delicate acidity, strawberry and spice notes.
Regaleali 2019 Le Rose Terre Siciliane, Sicily (Foxcroft, $15)
The grape is nerello Mascalese. An elegant rosé, with strawberry, cherry and rose petals on the nose and palate. Refreshing, with enough body to serve with your meal.
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne (Foxcroft, Arthur’s, winestore, $75)
A lovely salmon color with an elegant, rich white mousse aroma, light biscuit and strawberry nose, and a fresh, lively palate.
Juvé & Camps Sparkling Pinot Noir Cava, Spain (widely available, $20)
A dark pink sparkler with a ripe, intense cherry nose, and hint of yeast. The hearty palate is dry and acidic with red fruit. If you prefer sparkling wines, this wine will complement your meal.
If you are serving chicken, fish, or vegetarian fare, try the following:
Carpinus Family Wines Harslevelu, Tokaji, Hungary (Mere’s Cheese, $20)
Lovely golden hue with notes of honeysuckle and lime on the nose, medium body, flavors of peach and apricot, medium acidity. The Tokaji region is known for sweet wines, but there are also many good value table wines made from furmint and harslevelu that are slowly making their way to North Carolina.
Combeval Grande Cuvee (winestore all locations, $12.99; on sale $9.99)
A blend of sauvignon blanc, gros manseng, and colombard; the blending of grapes softens the high sauvignon acidity to yield a well-balanced wine with notes of pineapple and pear. Refreshing.
Falanghina del Sannio Fontana Vecchia 2019, Torrecuso, Italy (Pasta & Provisions, $13.99)
Apricot and lemon zest on the nose, creamy texture, stone fruit, mineral and orange blossoms on the palate – this wine would complement your salad or fish course. The grapes are grown in volcanic soil near Mt. Vesuvius.
Louis Michels Petit Chablis (Foxcroft, $31.99)
Well-balanced all-around chardonnay with honey, minerality, citrus, medium finish and medium-plus body. This wine is assertive enough to work with chicken, turkey and pork.
Lester Family Chardonnay Deer Park Ranch, Santa Cruz Mountains, California (Foxcroft, $45)
This is a well-balanced chardonnay with orange peel, almonds, and honey. Long bright finish – this is not your buttery, oaky California chardonnay.
Pascal Biotteau 2019 Anjou Blanc, Mary Taylor Portfolio (Foxcroft, $14.99)
Dry chenin blanc with honey notes, integrated acidity, pear, mint, and apricot. A very affordable, flexible white that will compliment your asparagus or squash dishes, fish, and fowl.
Wines to consider for hearty meats and complex dishes:
Trevini Sangiovese Rubicone, Emilia-Romagna, Italy (Bond Street, $13.99)
Bright acidity, cherry notes with thyme and sage, this wine is crying for food. It pairs with Brussels sprouts, turkey, red sauce, and beef.
Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch 2017 Wild Ferment Pinot Noir, Victoria Australia (Whole Foods, $26.99)
I had to try this wine – what a perfect label for Thanksgiving! And it did not disappoint. Medium body with raspberry, black cherry, earth, warm spices. The winery is located in a cool climate region of the Strathbogie Range.
Candea 2016 Monterrei Galicia Spain (Petit Philippe, $21)
Made from a blend of indigenous grapes from Galicia, which borders the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal, it has good minerality with sour cherry, white pepper and cranberry. Medium+ body, serve it with grilled or roasted meat or hearty fish, like salmon.
Red Wines for fowl, most fish, pasta with delicate sauces, autumn produce:
Domaine Laporte Le Bouquet Cabernet Franc, Val de Loire, France (Mere’s Cheese, $20)
Red fruit flavors, spice notes, balanced acidity, good wine to pair across various foods.
Juggernaut Russian River 2018 Pinot Noir (Arthur’s, $19.99)
Well-balanced California pinot noir with pepper and cloves on the nose, cherry, medium body, smooth finish on the palate. The cool growing region yields elegant fruit.
Big Table Farm 2018 Willamette Pinot Noir (Petit Philippe, $54)
This is a splurge wine that is worth the extra spend. Black cherry, balanced tannin, and cranberry notes make this a lip smacking, medium-plus bodied wine with a long finish.