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Thanksgiving Wine Selection - made easy!


Thanksgiving Day is the ONLY holiday every single American celebrates.  It is a day observed ladling up traditions at every opportunity; even if you're not doing what historically you have done, admit it - you're thinking or reminiscing about those things! But when it comes to wine selection there tends to be less tradition in play. For some that is the best part of the holiday - the vinous world is your playground! For others, what to serve or what to bring can overwhelm. We get it.

As part of our "made easy" series, we are offering up a few suggestions for going home with a winner or two.

If we can help with your specific feast or preferences, whether a consultation or shopping or both, don't hesitate to Click 2 Inquire. We relish overturning every rock (no minerality pun intended) to find stellar wines perfect for this time of year. And our holiday special is in play NOW through December 31, 2014!

Winning Whites

Noble white varietals are thought the darlings of Thanksgiving. The best hail from cooler climates, offer mesmerizing aromatics which lure you in, are lower in alcohol, a tiny bit "fleshy," yet deliver a crisp, mouthwatering brightness.

- Et Fille "Deux Vert Vineyard" Viognier ~ Willamette Valley, OR

- Szoke "Mantra" Pinot Gris ~ Hungary

Weinguut Jurgen Leiner "Handwerk" Weissburgunder (Pinot Blanc) ~ Pfalz, Germany

Gundlach Bundschu DRY Gewurtztraminer ~ Sonoma, California

Rabble-Rousing Reds

We hang our hat on discovering earthy, lightER bodied reds - with backbone. Beware of selecting a wine that's too big, which will just weigh you down given all of the food before you.

- Ravines Pinot Noir ~ Fingerlakes, NY

- Dominique Piron Coteaux Bourguignons ~ Burgundy, France

- Elena Walch Schiava ~ Alto Adige, Italy

- Ameztoi "Stimatum" Txakolina ~ Getariako Txakolina, Spain

Remember, with such a big, intense meal with so many different parts and varied traditions, there are countless wines to choose from. When it come to Food & Wine Pairing, the endgame is BALANCE!



Fun in the sun - with red wine!

It's summer in the city and yet I am drinking just about equal parts red, white and rose. What gives? The temperature - of my red wines, that is! Talking to people every day about wine I know there is a misconception out there that red wine shouldn't go in the fridge. Believe me when I tell you that's far from the truth. Personally speaking, I've found the notion is reinforced when you go out to eat. More often than not if you go to a nice restaurant they are missing the mark with the temperature they serve their wines; it is a challenge for them to keep their glass pours cold enough because they are often refilling glasses or uncorking new bottles and the wine either never goes back into the wine fridge due to the turnover, or it comes from too warm a place on the shelf behind the bar where it is easily accessible.

At home you have the 'luxury' of getting it right. Remember, nowadays room temp is higher than it used to be. And in the summer that's even higher! My house sits at about 80 degrees during the day. My cellar is around 72 degrees in the summer. Red wine (depending on the grape and region it comes from) shouldn't really be served higher than 60 degrees! Here's a chart which breaks it down fairly well.

If you're wondering if it really matters at the end of the day, it does. A wine that's served too warm is wearing a mask - none of its personality has a chance to show let alone shine. Wake up the wine by simply putting it in the fridge for 20 or 30 minutes to get it to serving temperature. That's about the time it takes me to kick off my shoes after my day, flip through the mail and get dinner started. All you have to do is grab the bottle off the rack and get it in the fridge before you start your Unwinding Process!

Of course, there are also wines that fall into the "Chillable Reds" category. These wines don't just loose their mask they virtually frollick in the glass once they get the 40 minute fridge treatment! Beaujolais (France - grape type: Gamay) and Loire Valley Cabernet Franc are fans of a little enclosed "AC" aka your fridge; Nebbiolo, Barbera, Sangiovese, Sciava and Frappato are Italian grapes that are also chill-loving; Spanish Tempranillo that hasn't seen a lot of oak mind it either. If you are entertaining grab the chill bucket and give the wine an ice bath for 10 minutes and you are good to go. Refill the bucket with ice and let your guests enjoy the good life - and learn a new trick!



turning the corner

Many people assume that wine professionals consume all styles of wine in their leisure time.  I am here to tell you this is not so. Wine professionals tend to respect all styles of wine. I.e. a wine can be well made, show all of the right varietal nuances it should as well as (what we call) a sense of place (terroir)), but it may not tickle our own fancy. Remember we are actually in the business of wine; while I don't know anyone who isn't also passionate about our field, the reality is, when we come home at the end of the day, having a glass of wine is not "new" to us - we've been working at it all day. Literally. (I'm sure I've said it before here, but there is a lot of crappy wine on the market. It is our job to suss it out and filter it out of the pipeline so that you, too, will not suffer.) As such, we are certainly apt to discriminate (possibly even more) when choosing a wine to enjoy at our leisure.

This all said, we are human, too. Our preferences can shift, just like yours. And respect can turn to personal appreciation.

For my part I've turned the corner this year in a few areas. One particularly worth noting as fall begins to knock on our door is Beaujolais. Beaujolais is a village in France that is part of Burgundy making a style of wine by the same name from a grape called Gamay. That's right - while Burgundy should be directly associated with Chardonnay (on the white side of the spectrum) and Pinot Noir (on the red side of the spectrum), Beaujolais itself is an area that is just north of the Rhone. Its climate is its own, one where Gamay has its optimal home.

Beaujolais is perhaps known best for the unique winemaking style they employ there - carbonic maceration. Long story short, this process means that the grape juice ferments inside of the grape skins. This process creates a style of wine that is much higher toned, bursting with fruit and few tannins. Apply this process to an already fruity, high acid, light skinned grape (Gamay) and you have a wine that surely follows suit.

For a long time I could respect these wines but struggled to get on board despite the fact that there is actually a fairly dynamic range of flavors/styles within the Beaujolais category itself. (I'll save those differences and why for another post.) Suffice it to say, I've turned the corner. We've encountered several wines of late that have less of the funky circus peanuts meets bubblegum flavor profile I find off-putting - so much so I've not only enjoyed several Beaujolais at home, but I've even found myself opting for it off of a wine list full of other desirable options!

My point today, dear reader, is you never know when you're going to have a new appreciation for something even after years of being in your 'rut'. So keep tasting, keep exploring, and keep an open mind! You are apt to discover new friends.



Women and (Red) Wine (Pairing) - plus Dr. Vino's sipped/spit list

How many articles have you read where the bone being picked is over who gets the wine list in a restaurant, the man or the woman? This week I stumbled on another, which parlayed a bit off of the recent Brigham study about women, wine and their weight. Take a look at this one and report below what is your experience on the topic. I can't help but wonder if this is a regional/cultural thing, because I can't remember the last time someone didn't hand me the wine list. I have no real beef on this one - at least here in Boston. You? Next up, if you don't yet know what are some great options for pairing wine with fish - or are looking for at least one new idea - check out this piece.

Last but not least, if you enjoy a good laugh with your wine, go here for Dr. Vino's recent "sipped or spit" piece. For me this occasional Vino post theme is a lovely, not so guilty, pleasure!



Wine news for all to contemplate

Image care of: week there's a little something for everyone  by way of wine news, regardless of your specific interest in the science behind wine. Some way, somehow, these headlines are sure to hit close to home. Let's jump right in! I'm a visual, tactile person so I usually embrace every opportunity to better engage my senses to remember something. In the wine world, that usually means taking my time to engage ALL of my senses as I evaluate a wine. But can aromas be visualized? Do we need them to be?  For better or worse, the folks at Aromicon are taking this idea for a test drive. Check out this article at Springwise to get the scoop!

I couldn't find my related post about pests in the vineyards (sometime last year, I believe), but there's a shocking bit of news coming out of UC Davis regarding work to mitigate - or eliminate - the nematode problem perplexing California vineyard managers and winemakers. Apparently the Dept. of Nematology at Davis is being shut down, despite the fact that the problem has yet to be resolved. Wines & Vines didn't report on the politics or economics or whathave you happening behind the scenes there. But here's an update on the situation plaguing Northern California in particular. If you know a bit more on this, please weigh in below!

In other news, somehow I missed last year that Boisset decided to ship Beaujolais Nouveau in plastic bottles - to reduce costs of shipping the historic, annual November wine. (I wonder why they chose plastic over bag-in-box...). And, it seems this year Japan is taking things one step further by selling the wine as such - without re-bottling it in glass first. Did you see or hear any further news on this plastic-ization of BN last year - or more recently?



No need to stress: Tips for Turkey wine success

I'm cooking a harvest-themed feast for a few friends this year and couldn't be more thankful to avoid the madness of travel including, but not limited to: airport delays; someone else's Aunt Tilda and her generous supply of lipstick and perfume; and the screaming baby in the seat across the aisle. I'm not a Bah Humbug for Christmas, but I've lived through too many challenging Thanksgiving trips to want to head elsewhere for the otherwise great event.  An entertaining parade that inspires nostalgia, football (no matter how bizarre the match-up), a feast chock full of friends and good humor and a great bottle of wine (or two or three) are all the ingredients I need for a lovely day of giving thanks. If you haven't made it to your wine shop to select a bottle of wine this year, today might be a good day to drop by. It will only get trickier to navigate the aisles as mid-week approaches. And if you don't already have a favorite Pinot Gris, Riesling, Beaujolais Villages, or Pinot Noir picked out, remember to consult your shop's wine buyer. There are some fun things on the market this year you won't want to miss. (Two that come to mind are the Michlits Frizzante Pinot Noir (the winemaker made it for her wedding a few years ago and it was so amazing, her importer asked her to make it a regular in her repertoir) or the Clos de Rochers Pinot Gris, a very cool, slightly sweet Pinot Gris from Luxembourg - you don't see that everyday!) No doubt having a little one-on-one help will certainly ease your pre-holiday stress.

But even if you wait to the last minute or the wine managers on duty are helping other customers, for heaven's sake, don't panic! There is too much parking lot drama at every grocery store and fine wines shop this time of year, you don't need to add a little something I like to call "Bottle Stress" to your life. Even if you are meeting your boy/girlfriend's family for the first time, here are two stress-reducing strategies for Thanksgiving Wine-Selecting Success:

Option A: Simply stick to one of the classic Turkey varietals I listed above. You'll be A-OK on optimal food pairings.

Option B: If those varietals aren't your bag, select a bottle or grape YOU like; it's probably just the balm you need! (Eric Asimov and his eno-friends recently reiterated the point beautifully (and comically) at The Pour....)

For those of you ahead of the rest, won't you help your friends with a little insight? What do you plan to pour this Thanksgiving?



Beaujolais Nouveau release at Midnight tonight!

Before Harry Potter book signing parties, there were other parties, wine parties, that came more frequently than those of the Harry Potter variety. They came every 3rd Thursday in November to be precise. And the tradition lives on.... Just one week before Thanksgiving stacks of the colorful Georges Duboeuf's famous Beaujolais Nouveau are sent out to wine shops from Beaujolais, France (think Southern Burgundy where Pinot Noir thrives). Wondered what it is? Beaujolais is a wine made from a grape called Gamay. The Nouveau style is made through a fermentation process called carbonic maceration and is released super-duper fresh, i.e. from harvest to bottle to market within mere weeks! It is intended consumers drink this wine young, and certainly no longer than 6 months. Why? Well, Gamay is a low-tannin varietal, which makes it optimal for those who prefer a light-styled, fruity, fruity wine. But even with it's naturally high acidity (another "age-worthy" component for wine), the fact that the wine goes through carbonic maceration hurts the wine's natural ability to age.

The hoopla of this catch-and-release process began in the late 1800s. Locals recognized this light-styled red wine was perfect for the transition between seasons and the unofficial 'switch' from white to red wine drinking - and they made a party of it (just imagine! pitchers of wine from the barrels were on offer!!) while the more grand Beaujolais wines were still working their mojo and evolving. The French government decided to reign in the revelry a little bit in 1938 and then in 1951 declared the "3rd Thursday in November" rule.

I don't mean to mislead you, however. Georges Duboeuf isn't the only producer of Beauojolais Nouveau; he's just the most famous because he produces so much of the stuff. Regardless who's Nouveau you select to sip, expect tooty-fruity red berry flavors. It's not my bag, though I have come to appreciate Beaujolais/Gamay when on offer from one of the premiere villages where the wine hasn't been quite as fast-tracked, e.g. Moulin-a-Vent, Morgon, Fleurie and Brouilly. Those wines tend to offer a bit more complexity - a touch of earth, a touch more depth, and a touch of tannin to offset all of that boisterous fruit! Their light style, much like Pinot Noir, is indeed a great complement to your turkey dinner.

So the question is... will you Nouveau?