On this Thanksgiving Eve, with your pies in the oven and your turkey (I hope) brining, many of you are probably thinking about what you will be drinking with your divergent feast tomorrow. If you are entertaining, I am sure you are all set by now with a variety of libations, from aperitifs all the way through to dessert. But, what wine have YOU decided to drink during the main event? This year I have given this a lot of thought.
Pinot NoirLong a Thanksgiving staple for red wine drinkers, Pinot Noir is a good choice because of its light body and versatility; it will go with just about anything on the table.
GamayAs I mentioned last week, Beaujolais Nouveau was just released and is a fine accompaniment to Thanksgiving. Similar to Pinot Noir, the Gamay grape is also very versatile. If you do not want the fruitiness of a Beaujolais Nouveau, try a more mature Gamay and pick up a Beaujolais Cru.
My Pick I know I have proclaimed myself a seasonal wine drinker, but after much thought, I have decided to drink a white wine with tomorrow’s Thanksgiving meal. With the variety of dishes and flavors on the table, I just feel a cool, crisp white is a better pairing for the actual meal. My pick is a medium dry Pinot Gris from Alsace, France. With hints of peach, spice and minerality and a long, crisp finish, I think this wine will be perfect with the various items on my plate.
Whatever it is you decide to drink tomorrow, make sure it is something you enjoy; whether it pairs well is secondary. May your Thanksgiving be filled with peace, love, laughter and good wine. Happy Thanksgiving!
Since 1985, every third Thursday of November, the Beaujolais region in France releases a red wine at 12:01am (local time) made from recently harvested Gamay grapes. Known as Beaujolais Nouveau, this very fruity, young wine is celebrated throughout France with parties and fireworks; the main festivities are in Lyon. Millions of bottles are also shipped around the world beforehand, but kept under lock and key until the official day.
Hand-harvested, the whole grape is used in production (no bitter tannins from the skins) and the wine is bottled 6-8 weeks after harvest. Meant to be drank immediately, it is best served with a slight chill to bring out all the red fruit flavors – cherry, strawberry and raspberry.
In France, the celebration will run through the weekend and revelers will enjoy platters of charcuterie and cheese. Smoked ham, dried sausage or mild, soft cheeses are a perfect pairing for this young wine. Dinners of hearty stew and roasted meats (chicken or pork) will also be consumed throughout the long weekend celebration.
Beaujolais Nouveau has been around as early as the 1950s, but it was not until the 1970s that a national event was established. With all the media coverage surrounding the event, it became known internationally in the 1980s. Thanks to a group of marketing gurus, the official release date was finally established in 1985 as the third Thursday in November, the week before Thanksgiving.
So whether you have it this weekend or with your Thanksgiving dinner, make sure you have a bottle of Beaujolais Nouveau before it disappears until next year.
Every November 7, lovers of this globally grown dark blue-colored grape come together to celebrate International Merlot Day. Getting a bad wrap in the 2004 book and movie, Sideways, Merlot’s reputation did take a slight hit, but is now one of the most popular red wines amongst consumers and is successfully produced in almost every country around the world. Utilized as a blending grape, Merlot is also used on its own in varietal wines.
One of the primary grapes used in Bordeaux wines, Merlot is the most widely planted grape in this region. An early ripener, it produces a medium-bodied wine with intermediate alcohol levels and acidity, and red fruit flavors. Merlot planted in New World regions like California are harvested later and produce wines that are fuller in body, with higher alcohol and deep plum, blackberry fruit tastes and aromas.
As a blending grape, the role of Merlot in Bordeaux is to add softness to Cabernet Sauvignon. In Italy, you will see the use of Merlot to balance out the high acidity in many Italian grapes. Similar to Bordeaux, it is blended in “Super Tuscans” to soften the Sangiovese grape. In California, Merlot was mainly used on its own as a varietal wine, but for years now, it is also being blended in the Bordeaux-style as well.
Lighter Merlots pair well with salmon, shellfish, chicken, particularly grilled or roasted, and also mushroom-based dishes. The fuller Merlots make a tasty accompaniment to beef, grilled or roasted, and filet mignon, as well as pasta dishes with tomato-based sauces.
So, don’t be like Miles in Sideways – order that bottle of full-bodied California Merlot if it is to your liking. Or try a traditional Bordeaux – 2015 is a good year. Whatever you decide to do, just have a very Happy International MerlotDay!