My column is usually calendar challenged – as I am trying to present food and wine thoughts far in advance of when you will actually see them, making the relevance often more than a bit difficult, but the moon and stars have aligned. You will in fact actually be reading my thoughts as both Thanksgiving and Christmas are yet in the future, so in fact the information contained within this Whine will still be relevant.
You are on your own as far as recipes go so I hope you’ve still got the torn out pages from past issues with my turkey and dressing recipes and if not just send an email and I’ll be happy to refresh your supply, so let’s so bottle up!
I’m not claiming any great news with suggesting you match Pinot Noir with turkey, they’ve actually have been happy partners for a very long time. What I thought I’d relate is why Pinot Noir is my favorite and staple at the Thanksgiving table.
Pinot Noir (PN) wines are generally light to medium bodied in taste weight in comparison to powerful, full-bodied wines such as Cabernet Sauvignon that can easily overpower a turkey-centered meal. Additionally, because the Thanksgiving meal usually lasts several hours, the lighter style of PN will allow Uncle Joe to remain upright at the table longer – assuming you want him to.
As to a flavor profile that works with all that is Thanksgiving, PN has a lot of juicy red and black cherry and berry fruit that are good partners with turkey or stuffing especially if it has bacon and sausage in it as my recipe does. The savory and earthy notes, spice and sometimes floral note make it an easy wine to pair with the many different turkey preparations, the stuffing as well as the cornucopia of different side dishes.
Acid and tannins are important factors in all red wine and usually bright acidity helps bring out the juiciness in the turkey (especially if you brine the turkey) as well as the flavor in the sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, mushroom dishes etc. Normally gentle tannins marry well with all the green vegetables, as well as the proverbial dish of green beans.
O.K. so this is truly an American holiday and while there are some wonderful wines made from PN in many other countries we are blessed with quite a few American wine regions making excellent PN.
Pinot Noir is a fickle, fussy grape and expensive to cultivate and California has done a terrific job of developing great PN after many fateful attempts. The Carneros, that spans both Napa and Sonoma counties, is one of the most successful and where my wife and I learned its secret while riding in the back of a wine makers truck 10 or 12 years ago when I asked him why PN had finally worked and his insightful response was, “We learned where not to grow it.”
In addition to Carneros, the most successful regions are the cool Russian River Valley (Sonoma), Sonoma Coast (especially from the most westerly vineyards) where nothing was growing 10 years ago, Anderson Valley (Mendocino County) cool again as well as the cooler Central Coast (Santa Rita Hills, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria Valley).
The Willamette Valley is the most important area in Oregon for PN but also look for wine from these regions: Chehalem Mountains, Dundee Hills, Eola-Amity Hills, McMinnville, Ribbon Ridge and Yamhill-Carlton. These wines are made in bit more of a Burgundy style and are very well-structured, focused and capable of long ageing.
One final piece of advice before we get to bottles is don’t be afraid to chill the wine a little before serving. Room temperature with everyone in our generally over-heated living or dining rooms will turn out to be more like 70 or 75 degrees, especially if Aunt Edith is chilly so try to serve your reds at 60 – 65 degrees, as the cooler wine will show its fruit better and be a taste contrast to the all warm food.
To bring you some local insight as to What Goes With What for Thanksgiving dinner I consulted with two of my local wine managers, Ray Denton now at the Binny’s in Elmwood Park and Jeff Sukowski, Wine Director at Famous Liquor’s in Forest Park.
Ray suggests two whites if you need to go in that direction and starts off with a Chardonnay from a well know PN producer, imagine.
2014 A to Z Chardonnay – Willamette Valley Oregon – Buttery apple fruit with cinnamon with refreshing mineral flavored acids with a nice hint of toast. Rated 90 “best buy” $12.99
2014 Gundlach Bundschu Gewurztraminer – Sonoma
Made in an Alsatian style the wine is dry and is 90% stainless-steel fermented. It has flavors of ripe stone fruit, crisp acidity, clean with very little oak intrusion. Rated 91 $16.99
He then takes us to Pinot land with these diverse selections. Please say hi to Ray for me when you stop in at Binny’s
2013 Don Rondalfo Pinot Noir – Mendoza Argentina (and yes that is the America’s)
Aromas of smoked peppercorns, gherkin, chocolate toffee and grilled cherries with a silky, dry-yet-fruity medium body and a roasted nut, herb, and baking spice accented finish. Rated 87 “best buy” $9.99 Uncle Joe’s wine.
2014 Practical Matter Pinot Noir – Santa Barbara Central Coast
The wine has aromatics of cherry and strawberry along with a healthy dose of spice and earth. The palate is has good structure and flows seamlessly into a lingering finish. Rated 90 $17.99 this could be the sleeper of the year.
2013 Cristom Mt. Jefferson Pinot Noir – Willamette Valley
It begins with strawberry and cherry fruit and then gathers strength in its core, while maintaining an elegant, well-structured acid/tannin frame. Rated 91 “great value” $27.99
Jeff has these wine suggestions for white’s are:
2014 Joseph Carr Chardonnay – Sonoma Coast
Aromas of toffee-covered caramel apple, crème brûlée invite you into this light-bodied, expressive wine. Rated 88 ready to drink $19.99
2013 Reserve Gustave Lorentz Gewurztraminer – Alsace, France
Floral aromas of peony, lychee, and peach lead to a silky, fruity-yet-dry medium body and a finely balanced citrus, apple, and earth accented finish. A benchmark gewürztraminer, rated 94 $21.99
2013 Parducci Small Lot Pinot Noir – Mendocino
The wine offers aromas of juicy, ripe raspberries and strawberries. Its berry flavors are full and rich on the palate, picking up a hint of cedar in the finish. $9.99, Uncle Joe’s wine
2014 Bread & Butter Pinot Noir – California
The 2014 is brimming with beautiful black cherry fruit with floral notes on a background of earthiness and spice. $13.99
2013 Byron Pinot Noir – Santa Maria Valley CA. – Lots of caramelized cherry, black raspberry, sweet oak and spice, it hits the palate with a seamless, silky, gorgeously pure texture that carries plenty of fruit and finishes clean and dry, with notable tannic grip. Rated 91 $22.99
I hope to see you at one of the Famous wine events in December and let me know what Uncle Joe thought of his wine.
Please have a wonderful holiday season!
That’s my Whine…and I could be wrong
Woody Mosgers, cooks, caters, drinks and matches wine and food at www.woodythewineguy.com