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What I’m Drinking Now: Thanksgiving


I am sure we all have great Thanksgiving traditions, mostly revolving around good food.  For me, I always start the day watching the parade with a glass of Champange, then non-traditional cooking and enjoying a beautiful dinner with friends and family over great wine, hopefully after a Cowboy’s win. 

As shopping approaches here are a few ideas for wine selections that will pair nicely with your turkey dinner.  Some have been sent for editorial consideration, some were just meant for Thanksgiving feasting.

Beaujolais is considered the wine of Thanksgiving.  If you want to try many selections before you buy make sure to attend this year’s Beaujolais Festival Friday night.  Tickets available here.  If you just want to pick up a few bottles without a prior taste test George Deboeuf  always puts out a solid product, that is always dressed for a celebration.  In stores just before the holiday, in celebration of the run from Beaujolais to Paris on the third Thursday of the month of November just after bottling. Beaujolais, like all Gamay, should be drunk young, and is light, fruit forward and an easy pairing with a hearty Thanksgiving meal.

Zinfandel is a good go to for Thanksgiving, and there are a few that stand out. 

Quivira’s 2008 Zinfandel from Dry Creek in Sonoma County is filled with ripe blackberry, plum and cherry mixed with subtle spices.  It is a big wine, that is slightly acidic, which will likely pair nicely with a Thanksgiving dinner as the wine can cut through some of the rich flavors in the meal. 

Frank Family’s  2008 Reserve Zinfandel is filled with lots of jammy, fruit forward flavors of blueberry, blackberry and cherry pie with baking spices of cinnamon and nutmeg.  I had this wine with a pairing of grilled salmon with a blackberry glaze and it was fantastic.  So, if your Thanksgiving dinner is a little on the unconventional side it would be a great pairing with smoked or grilled salmon.

I recently had another that was really reasonably priced, and quite good – Sledgehammer Zinfandel from the Northern Coast of California blends 9% Syrah and 11% Petite Sirah to add additional depth and round out the spicy, fruit forward flavors of blackberry and cherry, with black pepper and nutmeg.

Pinot Noir is a grape that should pair nicely without being overly intense, but still bold in flavor.  Adelsheim’s Calkin’s Lane Pinot Noir comes from vineyard which was a former hazelnut and walnut orchard, which adds a layer of nuttiness to this well structured Pinot Noir with lots of black fruit wrapped around flavors of coffee, cocoa and roasted nuts. 

Ancien Pinot Noir  from Carneros is on a quest to produce well balanced and expressive wine with structure, style and elegance.  The 2008 Hayne’s Old Block does this well with lots of strawberry, raspberry and violet aromas leading to chocolate, cherry and tobacco flavors that linger on the palate.

Smoky Syrah is always a good wine for feasting, especially on roasted or smoked turkey.  Yarden Syrah from Galilee is filled with smoky bacon and ripe, red fruit aromas followed by blackberry, red cherry and raspberry jam flavors with hints of sweet spice.  

Napa Valley’s Rocca Family Vineyards  2007 Yountville Syrah is bold and spicy with layers of earthiness, anise and vanilla mingled with bing cherry and raspberry.

On a recent trip to Livermore I stopped and tasted at Concannon’s new tappas bar, The Underdog Bar and enjoyed a glass of their Captain Joe’s Petite Sirah.  Concannon was one of the first in the country to make Petite Sirah and they do it well.  This one is filled with plum and blackberry fruit flavors with hints of rosemary, toasted nuts and black pepper.

Chateau St. Jean  makes good wine, at reasonable prices.  Their Sonoma County Chardonnay is always a good go to wine, but their 2007 Sonoma Merlot was one that I think would be a good pairing for Thanksgiving, especially if you want a little heartier wine without a lot of tannin.  Filled with black cherry, cola, and nutmeg followed by hints of currant and chocolate the wine is well rounded and structured that will pair well without overpowering the meal.

Another Merlot that is outstanding is Newton; their 2006 Unfiltered Napa Valley Merlot starts with wildflower and lavender aromas blended with blackberry jam and subtle earthiness, apparent in many 2006 reds from Napa.  20 months of French oak aging ads cocoa powder, licorice and spice flavors to the bright red cherry and blackberry flavors.

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