First Posted: 11/14/2008 10:04:25 AM | Last Updated: 11/14/2008 10:04:25 AM
Difficult as it is to believe, there is a new James Bond film is upon us. It hits theaters this week, in fact. This means we get to strap ourselves in for “the year’s biggest thrill-ride,” and then weep when this installment’s Expendable Bond Girl dies. It also means that Thanksgiving is upon us (it’s the Bond franchise’s standard release date), faster than we (well, I, at least) expected or hoped. Wine is hugely important to Thanksgiving, and it is incredibly fun to shop for the wines destined for this hallowed repast. I have some favorites to share, old and new, that are work beautifully with the panoply of flavors on the table.
That’s just the problem, of course (the panoply of flavors, not my unsolicited advice), and serving wine that will draw all of it together is not easy, but it’s not too hard either...for you could do no better than serving a robust rosé. I know it’s not summer any longer (though if this balmy weather keeps up, it won’t matter), but good rosé is good even in the winter, and it works brilliantly with Thanksgiving fare, whether you do the traditional turkey dinner or opt instead for goose, ham, partridge, et al. It’s crisp and zesty yet has tones of red wine fruit that will buttress all the disparate flavors invading your table and palate. I’ll probably do this, if I don’t do the next wine, which is...
...Charbono. Charbono used to be the majority in California’s grape population, but now there are only a handful of acres of it. The vines in these remaining locales are quite old and produce some intensely concentrated wines with a beautiful, plum-purple color. There are many hypotheses about this grape’s origin, but only two seem likely -- one is that it is actually the Dolcetto grape from Italy, and another is that it is the same as Bonarda from Argentina (which is itself thought to be an Italian import). Whatever the case, you can put an Italian stamp on your meal without anyone knowing, because it is excellent for Thanksgiving, just as are Dolcetto and Bonarda.
If you prefer white wine, and still don’t want to take me up on my never-ending recommendation of Riesling, then try Gewurztraminer. I am particularly fond of it with roast turkey (there is something about browned turkey skin and Gewurztraminer that is particularly satisfying). If you get a German Gewurz (say it guh-VERTZ), it’ll be off-dry unless it is labeled “halbtrocken” or “trocken.” If you get an Alsatian or New Zealand Gewurz, it’s most likely to be dry, and if you get one from elsewhere, ask your wine shop’s salesperson, who will know. Any of these options for Gewurztraminer would be fabulous, and the grape has enough character that it ties it all together well. I love to have Gewurztraminer with sausage stuffing. It never fails to delight me.
I have not recommended beer before in this forum, but I just had two beers from Allagash, a brewery in Maine, that made me think immediately of Thanksgiving. The first is the Curieux, which is aged in Bourbon barrels, and the second is the Grand Cru. They are warming, robust beers with serious complexity and would be a fun experience. They are available in 750mL bottles, too, so it can cover many guests.
Next week I’ll cover another fun wine option...Beaujolais Nouveau, which is released next Thursday. It’s a solid choice, if you can get over the stigma associated with Nouveau these days. Because not all Beaujolais Nouveau are created equal, ask your friendly neighborhood wine shop staff what their favorites are.
In fact, that’s the best advice I can give...your local wine retailer can steer you into a good choice that fits the needs of you and your dining guests. And they’ll probably have wines open for you to taste as the holiday approaches...and what better way is there to start off the festivities?
Burke Morton is the sommelier at Jean-Robert at Pigall’s, Downtown and general manager of the wine bar at Lavomatic Café in Over-the-Rhine. His column, “Words on Wine,” appears weekly in Pulse. For wine inquiries or ideas, he can be reached at bmorton@CinciPulse.com.