By the Glass: Start Thanksgiving planning by picking wine
For this year’s Thanksgiving meal, why not choose the wine first, then decide what to prepare for the joyous festivities?
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Is it too early to start planning the Thanksgiving feast? Perhaps.
But this year, I’d suggest trying something a little different: Why not choose the wine first, then decide what to prepare for the joyous festivities?
>> 2015 Melville Pinot Noir “Estate” (roughly $32 a bottle): Let’s start with pinot noir, the “it” wine for this occasion, for serving with traditionally prepared Thanksgiving foods — roasted turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy and a dollop of cranberry sauce.
This pinot is grown on the Melville Winery estate vineyard in the Santa Rita Hills appellation of California, amid rolling hills of sand-rich soils, in a very cooling, windy niche. This very elegant, refined, stylish and upbeat pinot noir has an intriguing minerality and no sense of heaviness whatsoever. I also love its seamlessness from beginning to end, and how lovely and delicious it is.
Refrigerate this wine for eight to 10 minutes before serving.
>> 2016 Edmeades Zinfandel “Mendocino” (roughly $19 a bottle): Where most old-vine zins can be quite hearty, robust and higher in alcohol, Edmeades has a history of blending interesting old-vine fruit with some younger, more exuberant juice to create a more civil, well-textured rendition that still has plenty of mojo at its core. It’s a great value and relatively easy to find. This is the wine to savor with smoked turkey and all its fixings. Again, I suggest chilling the wine eight to 10 minutes before your Thanksgiving meal.
>> 2017 Neyers “Sage Canyon” Red (roughly $32 a bottle): For a completely new adventure, consider this red wine blend. Avid wine lovers might wonder what to make of this wine and why I think it is so special. The label certainly gives no clues on what to expect.
The core of the 2017 is 139-year-old carignan fruit grown in predominantly sandy soils. These really old vines, becoming a rarity in today’s wine world, can create something truly notable. The carignan is blended with dollops of grenache, mourvedre and syrah, crushed by foot, fermented with native yeasts and grape stems, then aged in older barrels. (It is a far cry from California cabernet, in this case thankfully so).
I love its alluring perfume, how juicy, exotically spiced and delicious it is right out of the gate, with a cornucopia of red fruit and a jovial, charming personality. It will work seamlessly with myriad foods, such as a traditional roast turkey, baked ham and all of the accompaniments.
>> 2016 Nanfro Frappato (roughly $23 a bottle): A totally outside-the-box recommendation, but potentially the most interesting. Frappato is a grape variety native to Sicily off the coast of southern Italy that has been in the shadows of the much more heralded Nero d’Avola grape. It can be quite a challenge to find really good, interesting renditions. Still, because frappato is not mainstream, it offers real value should you find one like this Nanfro. In addition to an earthy, savory core, frappato can offer a wonderful rose-petal perfume, especially captivating when paired with deep-fried turkey and Thanksgiving’s hearty side dishes.
Chuck Furuya is a master sommelier and a partner in the DK Restaurants group. Follow his blog at chuckfuruya.com.