My children's godfather nearly succumbed to the vapors at the thought of red wine with shellfish. Good Heavens Man! It's just not done! Yet the proprietary notions of a distinct marque separating white from red continue to blur.
That said, what shall we serve our guests? TWC doesn't think you can pick the wrong wine (although it should be red, because lips that touch white wine shall never touch mine).
The Thanksgiving feast offers an incredible variety of succulent and well prepared foods and is often our finest offering of the entire year. For some of these dishes the perfect accompaniment will be a fruity and mellow white wine, others may be better suited to a sturdy red. Further complicating things, as any good host will know intuitively, we must take our guests tastes into account as well.
At the risk of sounding trendy, a nice Pinot Noir will gracefully tie your table together. Keep in mind that Pinots are the Merlot of the modern world. There are a lot of lousy Pinots around and many of them are not cheap. That's a function of trendy demand so be careful--price is an indicator but not a guarantor.
TWC contributor NoStar suggests a 2005 Duck Pond Pinot Noir.
TWC contributor The Kosmik Kid suggests a 2004 Lost Canyon Pinot Noir.
TWC goes with a 1999 (or any year) Adelaida Pinot Noir.
TWC Contributor, the Ink Stained Scribe (Rick H), more generally suggests any decent Oregon or Washington State Pinot.
A fruity Rosé or drier Grenache can work as well. NoStar suggests Chateau Ste. Michelle 2006 Nellie's Garden Dry Rosé. In that same vein, consider any medium bodied red wine with a little character. Even Mateus Rosé, which is what we considered to be a stylin' upscale wine in the days of my wasted yoot. Yes, Ma'am, you could impress the babes with Mateus (which came in a very cool bottle). Come on, we were working with a baseline of Tyrolia and Boone's Farm, even Two Buck Chuck would have been a step up. For the uninitiated, Mateus is a semi-sweet, semi sparkling wine that has an easy appeal to some casual wine drinkers.
Rick H plans a mesquite smoked turkey that he'll serve with a Dover Canyon Cujo Zinfandel, which should compliment any savory smoked holiday dish. The more delicate flavors of a traditionally roasted bird respond well to any GSM wine. A perfect example was the 2005 Robert Hall Rhone Robles that Rick brought to dinner in Cambria recently and it was excellent. Well priced and far better than the critics imagined.
TWC recommends the following:
Cantina Zaccagnini Montepulciano d’Abruzzo (2002 Riserva), which is nicely dry with solid red fruits. Spectator gave it an 87. I thought it was better than that. The 2002 is better than the 2003. Look for the interesting bit of grapevine attached to the bottle with peasant string. Around $11.50 US.
Unlike its predecessors, this Crianza 2003, is made with a small percentage of the Cabernet Sauvignon variety, which makes it more robust, gives it greater natural acidity and ensures longevity and quality in the ageing process. The dominant variety continues to be Tempranillo, which is known as Tinta Fina in Ribera del Duero.
Wine Spectator rated this at a well deserved 90 points. Around $15.00 US.
2003 Christian Mouiex Merlot is done in a very nice, earthy, minerally, dry Bordeaux style. It's medium bodied and widely available for under $10.00. Yes that guy. In some fashion he's managed to incorporate the expertise that produces some of the finest wines in the world (think Dominus and Pomerol) to produce an enjoyable wine that tastes more expensive than it is.
A standing rib roast or a pork crown roast will do well with a big beautiful full bodied red wine.
1997 Freemark Abbey Cabernet fits that bill but you'll need to bring the checkbook they gave you when you opened that equity line of credit.
About any Joseph Phelps Insignia should work. The 2005 was Spectator's choice for its prestigious wine-of-the-year. Ditto on the checkbook.
Back in the twenty to fifty bucks realm of reality:
St Francis Cabernet
Franciscan Magnificat. Not a misspelling. Good luck finding this one as they are immediately snapped up upon release.
Villa Antinori Toscana
Terrazas Malbec Reserva
Silver Oak Cabernet
One final thought. Consider serving several different varieties and styles of wine. Nothing wrong with two or three glasses for each guest. Try that. Chardonnay in one, Pinot in the next, and maybe a rich Cabernet in glass number three. They hate us for our opulence you know. So drink up, guilt free. Salud!
Thanks for your interest and may your Thanksgiving be blessed.