Thanksgiving Day Without Beaujolais Nouveau?

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C’est absurde! Beaujolais Nouveau est une tradition sur Thanksgiving Day! Well, that may be true but some traditions can be broken and new traditions are started in the process. For years, we looked forward to our yearly supplement of Beaujolais Nouveau the Thursday before Thanksgiving Day. We would run to the store the first thing in the morning and buy a few bottles to sip on Thanksgiving with the family. But years later, our palates have changed somewhat and we are quaffing more interesting types of wines that also go with our Thanksgiving feast! There is nothing wrong with the Beaujolais Nouveau and we think all wines have earned its place on the wine chart. Its just a bit too fruity for us nowadays and we like something with more structure, a little less fruit, more excitement and elegance! Yes, we are talking about most anything else but Beaujolais Nouveau!  If you love Beaujolais Nouveau, that is great! But just in case those ships filled with Beaujolais Nouveau are still stuck in New York Harbor on Thanksgiving Day because of hurricane Sandy, here are a few more wines you may want to put on your holiday table to please the masses.

Pinot Noir is one excellent choice to help you celebrate the holiday! Pinot Noir is normally a lighter style red wine, like the Beaujolais, but with a little more tannin and structure. Its not bitter by all means. It has wonderful flavors of cherry, subtle earthy undertones, and a softer style finish because of low tannins. It tastes perfect with turkey, stuffing, and all the sides! If you are just changing over to Pinot Noir from Beaujolais Nouveau, try an inexpensive California Pinot Noir. If you are a more experienced red wine drinker, get one from Oregon or Burgundy, France. These have a bit more tannin and earth but still retain a light style. We recommend the Belle Glos Meiomi Pinot Noir or if you have access to upstate New York wines, try the Casa Larga American 155 Pinot Noir. Both are excellent!

The last 2 years, we have been drinking red Cotes Du Rhone wines on Thanksgiving and they have been pairing perfectly with holiday Turkey and stuffing! These red wines are made primarily from the Grenache grape and they add a bit of spice to the table. They are plush and polished, medium bodied, with a long, velvety finish. Flavors of red berry, earth, spice, and even some minerality can be found on these wines. We love the Tresor De La Riviere Cote Du Rhone and it is usually under $10 a bottle. This year, we are having the 2004 Chateau de Montmirail Gigondas Cote Du Rhone with Thanksgiving dinner. It should be a real treat!

So you have a guest that doesn’t like red or white wines but you are determined to find them a wine that will make them happy this holiday. How about a nice, light Rose’ wine with dinner. Rose’s are served chilled and offer nice flavors of strawberry, raspberry, and a light, crisp finish. Usually not as tannic as other white wines because it is actually made from a red wine! It is just made in a softer style and the juice does not sit on the grape skins for long. It pairs well with light to medium cheeses and just about everything on your Thanksgiving table! We recommend the Hillebrand Trius Rose from the Niagara region in Canada. Wonderful red fruit and a soft, yet crisp finish. Or if you have access to Augusta, Missouri wines, try the La Fleur Sauvage Rose’ from the Augusta Winery. Strawberry, red berry, and a lively finish!

Sparkling wines and Proseccos are a fun treat at the holidays and always seems to add the fun to your gathering! They pair well with most appetizers and with alot of your Thanksgiving meal. If you are having a big gathering and not sure which sparkling wine to get, buy one that says ‘Extra Dry’ on the label. This sparkler has more fruit and sweetness on the palate than the Brut which can be pretty dry on the finish. Extra Dry sparklers will please more of your guests when having a big group over. Try the Mionetto Extra Dry Prosecco with its soft bubbles and flavors of citrus and peach. If you are in Michigan, try the Tabor Hill Grand Mark Sparkling wine! It is a Brut style but has wonderful flavors of apple, pear, and citrus. Plus the elegant bubbles will keep your guests smiling.

There are many white wines that will pair well with your roasted Turkey and all the sides. We enjoy having a good Riesling at our table for ourselves and family. Rieslings can be bone dry to sweet and will pair well to most dishes that are spicy, salty, or sweet in flavor. The core of the Riesling flavors are apple, peach, apricot, and usually a hint of minerality. The flavors all pair well with the diverse range of flavors on your holiday table. What makes Riesling special is its acidity which cuts through heavier foods like sweet potatoes, herb filled stuffing, or a roasted turkey. If you like a sweet style Riesling, you may want to save that one til after dinner. A dry or semi dry normally pairs better with food. German Rieslings are juicier and lighter in alcohol and probably better for grandma so she doesn’t get tipsy or end up on the kitchen floor! Rieslings from Oregon, Washington State, Michigan, and Canada are absolutely wonderful with Thanksgiving dinner and have such great flavors! The Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling is a great Riesling at an affordable price. If you have access to Canadian wines, we love the Lailey Vineyard Riesling with its off-dry style and flavors of citrus, peach, and a hint of spice!

So are you the daring type and want to serve a wine as fun to say as it is to drink? How about a flavorful, spicy Gewurtztraminer for your Thanksgiving dinner! (guh-VOORTS-truh-MEE-nur)  Reminiscent of the Riesling but with more spicy flavors and aromas of rose petals and lychee. The Gewurtztraminer is very aromatic and intoxicating. These are usually semi-dry with versions from Germany, Alsace, Michigan, Canada, upstate New York, and the north pacific. Its spicy nature will make it a solid wine to pair with turkey, potatoes and gravy, stuffing, and casseroles. Check your local wine merchant for a good, semi dry Gewurtztraminer from the areas mentioned and earn your Adventurer badge! If you have access to upstate New York wines, we recommend the Damiani Gewurtztraminer from the Finger Lakes. Exotic aromas of apricot, lychee, and rose petal with flavors of apricot and citrus with a drier style. Fantastic!

Honestly, there is no right or wrong to what wine you choose for your holiday meal. There really are no rules and you should drink what you like. This is just a basic resource for those who may not know where to go since they have been stuck on Beaujolais Nouveau for years! You may like a big Cabernet Sauvignon with your Thanksgiving turkey but if you are having guests over, you should have something besides Cabernet to offer them. We wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving 2012 and hope you enjoy it with your favorite loved ones, family, and friends! WineSplashing!


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