Wine recommendations for your Thanksgiving dinner
Nov. 14, 2001
Comes now the Thanksgiving season and for people of my age, there is no problem with the menu. It is a constant, built up by years of tradition. The date changes but the menu remains the same.
There must be turkey. My wife would prefer a prime rib but I use my one vote in favor of turkey. It's the only time during the year I get to exercise that vote. If it were otherwise we'd have turkey far more often.
The stuffing must be sage dressing with raisins, apple, onions and celery. The cranberries must be made fresh, nothing out of a can. Sweet potatoes with marshmallows on top is another must but we still require mashed potatoes as well, with giblet gravy, of course. Waldorf salad is nice and peas make a nice green vegetable. That about does it, except for the pie. Pumpkin with whipped cream on top and mincemeat will be dessert.
If there are any problems, they come with wine selection. Here are a few recommendations.
First of all, if you're going to have appetizers, and I haven't the slightest idea of why anyone would want them in front of the banquet outlined above, stay away from the heavy stuff, the bourbons, the scotch, even the vodkas and gins. They are too alcoholic and they do not allow the palate to properly taste and appreciate the food which will follow. You can get by with a light sherry but nothing stronger and make certain it is a dry sherry, not one of the big, syrupy sweet ones.
The ideal wine to accompany turkey is a French burgundy. A really good one can get pricey, particularly if you are going to have a number of guests. I recommend an American red zinfandel instead. Karly's Pokerville is excellent, or the Karly Bucks Ten Point. Their Warrior Fires is a bit stout so I'd use the lesser ones. There are a number of others that almost any package store has and it would be hard to go wrong with any one them.
If some of the people at your table do not eat the dark meat on the turkey and are strictly white meat fans, I would recommend a sparkling wine for them. They are inexpensive and would pair beautifully. California's Pacific Echo Brut (meaning dry) would be nice at under $20. Roederer Anderson Valley is as good as American sparkling wines get and they come in the same price range. Ste Michelle from Oregon is excellent as is Seaview from Australia.
That champagne or sparkling wine you plan to serve for white meat lovers will also go well with asparagus if that's your vegetable of choice. That same wine is recommended for most cream soups.
If you are having a salad with vinaigrette, no wine is suitable. Don't even try.
With a shrimp cocktail, see if you can find a muscadet wine. If you can't, and I doubt if you can in Meridian, substitute a sauvignon blanc or a fume blanc. Murphy-Goode or Beringer would be a good choice. Stay away from Robert Mondavi's fume blanc. To my taste, it's acid content is too low and with shell fish, you need the tarter flavour.
If you are having meat rather than turkey, any good red wine will do. A nice California cabernet or a French Bordeaux or one of the Spanish wines we discovered at our tasting this summer. An Australian shiraze is a good choice, particularly the Greg Norman cabernet-merlot blend, but Rosemount's more expensive Coonawara Valley Show Reserve is as good as it gets with red meat.
I am not a fan of wine with dessert. With pumpkin or mincemeat pie drink a nice cup of coffee or a glass of milk and leave the wine alone.
Tis the season
Our champagne tasting of November 29th will be too late for Thanksgiving, of course. But it should help with your Christmas wine list. We are going to have to raise the price for this one tasting because we have selected some of the best from France and they are costly.
For example, our final wine of the evening will be the great Krug champagne that sells for about $120 per bottle. There will be several others in the $50 to $60 class. In January, we will return to our usual scale. You'll absolutely need a reservation for this one so call 482-0930. Some of these wines are hard to come by and we must know in advance how many we will need.
Stan Torgerson, a longtime resident of Meridian, writes a weekly wine column for The Meridian Star.