Thanksgiving wine choices varied as foods

Posted: Wednesday, November 26, 2008

You probably don't have to spend a lot of time trying to figure out what to cook for Thanksgiving dinner. Tradition pretty well lays that out for you.

Turkey, of course, and maybe ham. Potatoes, yes, mashed and sweet.

Cranberry sauce, rolls, and deviled eggs. Maybe a few veggies and garnishes and then it's on to pumpkin and pecan pie.

But when it comes to what wine is to accompany all that, well, that is the question. It would be nice if we knew what the pilgrims drank and just followed suit, but it doesn't really work that way.

In fact, if we had what the pilgrims had, we'd probably be going to plan B in a hurry.

So what is the plan that is sure to please and not clash with the cacophony of flavors that will fill the plates of your guests? Or does such a plan exist?

The answer is probably yes and no. Yes, there are wines that can be served with a traditional Thanksgiving meal and will do reasonably well, and no, there probably is no perfect wine for the occasion.

The closest may be the one you don't usually think of as a wine for meals and that is Sparkling Wine, or Champagne. Yes, bubbly, the drink of celebrations and toasts.

What many people don't realize is that Champagne (or Sparkling Wine as it should be called when produced outside the Champagne region of France) is one of the most versatile food wines ever made. It can be served with brunch, light fare, seafood, vegetarian dishes, and foods that are difficult to pair with wines.

Think about it. Champagne flutes with bubbles rising all during the meal. What could be more festive and appropriate?

Two American comampanies that follow French tradition quite successfully are Mumm Napa and Schramsberg. Mumm Napa is an outreach of the Champagne house G.H. Mumm and uses traditional grapes and methodology to make sparkling wines that offer some of the best values available today.

Brut Prestige ($18) is a dry blend of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir with small amounts of Pinot Munier and Pinot Gris. It is rich and toasty with a bit of a bite.

Brut Rose ($23) fits the "pink Champagne" idea with the skins of the Pinot Noir grape adding the color and a bit of flavor to the finished blend. This is no sweet sparkler though.

Brut Rose is dry and the palate shows cherry and dark fruit, while the nose hints at rose petals. This is one I'll be pouring at my house this Thanksgiving.

A step up in price and elegance is Blanc de Noirs (white from black) and Blanc De Blancs (white from white). Both are priced in the mid thirties and will impress you and your guests with their flavors and lingering finishes.

As always, send your comments and questions, or offer up your sips or drips nominations to Until next time, happy pours.

Wine Guy's Pick of the Week

I had my pick already selected until I poured myself a glass of Dow's Trademark Finest Reserve Porto this evening. This is simply too good of a wine to take lightly and one glass soon led to another.

My wife commented on how good it was and I had to agree that it goes above and beyond the typical after dinner drink. This Port has a fruit forward beginning, but secondary flavors of pepper and spice give way to a long finish of ripe prunes.

You don't have to spend a fortune for Dow's Reserve, but you'll feel like you did. Priced around $20, this wine tastes like a million bucks.

Question, comment, tasting note, or tip? Write me at Until next time, happy pours.

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