Thursday, November 20, 2014

Wining through the holidays…

It’s that time of year again. The “holidays”. You throw a party, or you go to a party. For a huge meal. It could be a traditional roast turkey, accompanied by stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and pumpkin pie. Or it could be roast goose or duck, or a Honeybaked ham. Or (shudder) a turducken.

Regardless of what you, your friends and family choose to share, it’s going to be a big meal with a lot of different elements, so you’ll want to choose wines that will enhance and not conflict with the flavors found in your meal. You can play it safe and offer Chardonnay or Pinot Noir with your turkey, but how about trying something different to spice up your feast?

The Goddess of Wine tends to favor wines with good acidity to counter the fatty content of many of the tasty accompaniments to a hopefully moist and well-seasoned turkey. Oh, and I tend to lean more towards red wines, so here are some suggestions, all of which are locally available.

Zinfandel is a variety of black-skinned wine grape. The grapes typically produce a robust red wine with red berry fruit flavors like raspberry in wines from cooler areas such as Dry Creek, while blackberry, anise and pepper notes are more common in wines made in warmer areas like Paso Robles and Lodi.
Suggestion: 2012 Mauritson Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel - Raspberry and cinnamon aromas are followed by layered flavors of cherry, sage and white pepper. $25

Cabernet Franc is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, making a bright pale red wine that contributes finesse and lends a peppery perfume to blends with more robust grapes. Depending on the growing region and style of wine, additional aromas can include tobacco, raspberry, bell pepper, cassis, and violets.
Suggestion: 2010 Buttonwood Estate Grown Cabernet Franc - Notes of violets and berries and vanilla bean. The silky texture delivers cherry, red plum and dried raspberry fruit notes with cinnamon and mocha, with a long finish of herbs and crisp minerality. $26

Syrah is responsible for some of the darkest full-bodied red wines in the world. When you taste Syrah you’ll be greeted with a punch of flavor that tapers off and then has a spicy peppery note in the aftertaste. You may find elements of smoked meats and black pepper in the nose and on the finish. Olive, pepper, clove, vanilla, mint, licorice, chocolate, allspice, rosemary, cured meat, bacon fat, tobacco, herbs and smoke may be found depending on where the grapes are from.
Suggestion: 2013 Andrew Murray "Tous les Jours" Santa Ynez Valley Syrah - A blend of Syrah from Paso Robles and Santa Ynez Valley vineyards, it is a soft, smooth Syrah full of ripe berry aromas and flavors. Tous les Jours has been praised as one of the best wines under $20 by Food & Wine Magazine. $13

Okay, okay, if you must have your Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, here are a couple you might enjoy as well:

Everyone knows about the stereotypical oaky, buttery Chardonnay. If that’s your preference, cool. Go for it. The Goddess prefers a leaner, more elegant style with firm acid, great minerality, neutral oak and a long finish to pair with…well…anything, but I think this will pair really well with a roasted turkey, or glazed ham.

Suggestion: 2012 Joseph Drouhin Mâcon Lugny – Robert Parker said this: “The 2012 Macon-Lugny is the first release from Maison Drouhin and comes from the higher part of the plateau. (Incidentally, it comes under screw cap.) It has a light, grassy bouquet that is crisp and simple. The palate is fresh and vibrant with hints of apricot infusing the citrus fruit, with fine clarity and focus on the finish.” I think that says it all! $15

Pinot Noir is that most overhyped grape of the last ten years, especially in California. After much discussion about overripe Pinots allegedly supplemented with Syrah, how about a light-bodied, ruby red wine with scents of crushed stone and peppery herbs?
Suggestion: 2013 Alta Maria "Carbonic Beaujolais Clone" Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noir – Antonio Galloni said, “The 2013 Pinot Noir Carbonic is bright, focused and nicely delineated in the glass. Crushed flowers of all sorts and sweet red berries abound. This is another decidedly lifted, intensely aromatic Pinot…”

Happy Thanksgiving!

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