THANKSGIVING WINES: PLANNING FOR THE BIG DAY
The Wednesday before Thanksgiving is the busiest wine sales day of the year in the U.S.A. Wine shops bring in extra cash registers. Be prepared to make sound selections for your friends. Thanksgiving is the finest hour for you to please and to impress your guests with an assortment of exciting wines. When you write out your wish list, keep some basic factors in mind:
I. Guest considerations: Aunt Lucy drinks wines once a year (maybe twice) and thinks dry wines are sour. Provide her with an off-dry wine; a German Dornfelder, a Lambrusco Amabile, a Moscato. Uncle Ethan doesn’t drink at all. For him, how about an autumnal apple cider? Hot shot Louie gulps only hulking, oaky, high alcohol Cabs with 98-point ratings. Although such wines overpower turkey, you should do what you can to make him happy.
II. Turkey: Since domesticated turkeys are mutations of wild turkeys (game birds), Pinot Noir works best for me. It doesn’t have to be a lordly Burgundy at an aristocratic price. How about a Willamette Valley Pinot Noir from Oregon?
When paired with turkey, light white wines leave me with a metallic, bitter aftertaste. I suggest trying a fuller, oak-aged California Chardonnay or a rich Pinot Blanc or Pinot Grigio from Alto-Adige, Friuli, or Alsace.
III. Festivities: Make Thanksgiving sparkle with a Champagne toast. Or it could be a Prosecco or a Cava, but top shelf only. Your guests deserve the best.
Beaujolais Nouveau has just arrived! Salute the new vintage. We are all obliged to try the new wine, at least once. Actually, once is enough for me. Look for Californian or Italian versions (Vini Novelli), but these may be harder to find.
IV. Other foods to be served: This is where the fun ascends to a higher plain. With hors d’oeuvres, antipasti, pasta, vegetables, root or otherwise, there is an opportunity to show dozens (well, quite a few) of various wines. Try a rose from Provence.
V. Save room for dessert and dessert wines: I like Vin Santo with pumpkin pie. You don’t have to like what I like, but keep the party going.
VI. Really special wines: If you’re feeling inspired, break out a large format or an old vintage you’ve been saving. Why are you saving it? Thanksgiving with friends and relatives is the reason why.
VII. Ask your wine shop owner and clerk: What do they recommend? More importantly, why?
VIII. Other beverages: Check your stocks of beer, spirits, soda, etc. for the malcontents.
IX. Bring out the cots: Everyone will need to take a nap. No one leaves hungry. No one leaves drunk. If necessary, no one leaves.
X. Post-nap activities: Play cards, watch football games, make turkey sandwiches, tell the same stories which you have been spinning for the past 20 years.
Next week, I’ll let you how I made out. Let me know how you did. Happy Thanksgiving!