Turkey, Wine and Apples: The Holy Trinity of Fall
Harvest time = harvest wines. Beaujolais Nouveau is just the beginning. And don't miss Anna's recommendations for Steals (around $10), Deals ($15 range) and Splurges($20 - $40 range) - all locally available in the Bay-Waveland area!
- by Anna Speer
Every vintage year is different; these wines do not spend a lot of time (hardly any, in fact) maturing. They should spend even less time on your wine rack. Beaujolais Nouveau is a constant in your local wine store in late fall/early winter. Love it for what it is; an easily accessible tradition and a delicious addition to your meal. Don't try to cellar or upsell it. Do love it for the way it will balance out the heavy, rich flavors of of the Thanksgiving spread.
Next: Pinot Noir. Foodies and oenophiles alike love to feature Pinot Noir during this time of year. It makes sense: moderate body, complex fruit notes and a depth provided by oak-barrel maturation. All these qualities make Pinot Noir an ideal match for Thanksgiving, particularly when the turkey is grilled. The smokey qualities of a good Pinot Noir can highlight depth of flavor when roasting or grilling your centerpiece poultry.
This varietal offers huge scope in quality: a cool-climate Pinot Noir from New Zealand is nothing like an oak-aged offering from Oregon. Stray but a little from the Meiomi status-quo and a world of nuance awaits you and your turkey.
Finally, Chardonnay. Rich, crisp, buttery goodness. Perfect for Thanksgiving. The creamy qualities of this wine pair beautifully with many dishes served at a traditional Thanksgiving. For those who prefer more brightness and less oak in their glass, I suggest cool-climate offerings.
Take a gallon of apple cider. Any cider will do; plain apple juice will work in a pinch. Get the cider in a big pot over low heat. Add a clove-studded orange and apple, a cinnamon stick, a whole nutmeg, a few whole peppercorns and a star anise. Let it go for at least an hour and taste. In the past I've needed to add lemon, brown sugar and more apple, among many other things. Let your palate be your guide.
By this time, your house will smell better than an expensive fall-themed candle and your guests will be dying to know what your secret is. Serve the cider in mugs and offer up a bottle of red wine to use as an add-in. Almost any dry red wine will do, but I prefer Red Zinfandel. Bold, fruit-forward, delicately spicy, moderate body and not overly expensive: this varietal is by far my favorite for this recipe.
This is a fantastic way to introduce red wine to your "I don't like red wine" friends. The cider is deliciously fragrant on its own and the wine brings a delightful depth to the drink. As they adjust to the flavors, they can progressively add more wine until they feel brave and comfortable enough to try a full glass.
Chardonnay, sadly, will not stand up to this adaptation. Keep your white wine selections cold and crisp, and serve your cider separately. If you have any leftover cider at the end of the night, refrigerate it in a pitcher. It should hold for a week or so, and pairs beautifully when served cold with a leftover turkey sandwich.
Happy Thanksgiving, y'all. Hug your families extra from me.
Anna's Steals, Deals and Splurges
Steals (around $10), Deals ($15 range) and Splurges($20 - $40 range) - all locally available in the Bay-Waveland area!
Steal: Louis Jadot Beaujolais Nouveau, current year's vintage. Serve slightly chilled.
Deal: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir, 2014. Medium-bodied, luscious. Serve slightly chilled.
Splurge: Sonoma-Cutrer Russian River Chardonnay, 2014. Serve slightly chilled.