When we received the call to help with a private wine tasting to be held in November, naturally an Autumnal theme came to mind. But with Thanksgiving not so far off, the event also provided the perfect opportunity to introduce guests to some stellar wines they could keep in mind for their own festivities - and would be sure to WOW their own friends and family come Turkey Time.
In classic form, we started the event with a sparkling wine to set the tone for the evening and whet everyone's whistles.
Off to a festive start, thereafter the focus was on wines that:
> Pair naturally with traditional fare &
> Are predisposed to keeping you from feeling weighed down.
A big feast is best mitigated by lifting, lower-alcohol, less-robust wines which, in their own right, never compromise on flavor or nuance. Meanwhile, there's no need to have 101 different wines on offer. We reigned in the options and focused on wines that were sure to be hits, no matter the palate in the room:
WHITE. We chose a DRY Riesling from the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York. Surprised? Most are, but Riesling can be vinified dry (like any wine!) for a stellar experience. The Riesling grape itself is actually low in sugar and high in acidity, and plays nicely in the salty/rich foods sandbox. These attributes predispose the varietal to Thanksgiving food-friendliness. Without use of oak during fermentation, the wine is 'leaner', preventing you from feeling so full, too.
Offering a DRY style also solves the Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay 'crisis' you may feel you face - it offers a clean, tart zip over a fleshier-textured wine satiating both preferences among guests. And everyone enjoys a pleasant surprise that the wine in their glass is actually... Riesling!
Ravines Wine Cellars' Dry Riesling adorned the tasting table during the event because it packs such power without giving up finesse - but we also chose this one over others the worldwide because it is produced domestically - and there's nothing more appropriate at Thanksgiving than to enjoy a stellar, American-made wine. (In preparing this post we discovered Eric Asimov quite agreed with our specific choice, too!)
RED. The best domestic Pinot Noir arguably comes from the Willamette Valley, Oregon. The natural cornucopia of flavors that this red grape offers especially when grown in the Willamette Valley are bar-none optimal for a classic Thanksgiving meal: cranberry, red apple skin, dried leaves and a gentle kick of spice are tasting notes we shared during the event; no doubt these are aromas and flavors predisposed to a Thanksgiving spread!
Seeking out your local fine wine shop and soliciting a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir recommendation will certainly add The WOW Factor to your table. There are both known, artisanal favorites and hidden gems among more usual suspects depending on what's available in your market. Use the holiday as an excuse to try a new to you or lesser known producer.
With these foolproof tips we know we've set your table for success! But most important, we wish you a safe, happy and healthy holiday!