Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Thanksgiving Wines

How do I pick wines to bring for Thanksgiving, Brooklynguy?

What should I do, Brooklynguy, because I have to pick the wines this year?

It's my responsibility to get wine for our dinner this year, and I don't know what to get. What should I buy?

I'd be curious to hear your thoughts on Thanksgiving wines, Brooklynguy.

None of the above are questions that were asked of me, although I'm going to pretend that they were.

Here's how I pick wines for Thanksgiving - I remember that in my family, the only person who cares even a little bit about the wines is me. No one wants to discuss the wine. But they know that I'm into wine, so they expect a 2 minute explanation about the wines I brought. Not more than two minutes though, and keep it simple.

So I bring wines that I want to drink, but also wines that I imagine my family will also enjoy because they smell and taste good. And I try to keep things low in the alcohol department because there will be driving in traffic, and more importantly because I don't want it to be my fault when a family member gets awkwardly weepy and declares their firm intent to see more of the rest of us.

I like to drink sparkling cider while hanging out before the meal, and my family does too. They don't hate it, anyway. It feels festive and it's low in alcohol. Three producers whose ciders I buy without hesitation - Julien Frémont, (Louis/Dressner Imports), Eric Bordelet (JD Headrick Selections), and Cyril Zangs (Savio Soares Selections). This year I'm bringing one of Bordelet's pear ciders, the 2009 Poire Authentique. At 4% alcohol, I just cannot see things getting out of hand for anyone. I'm also bringing 2009 Bisson Prosecco Treviso (Imported by Rosenthal Wine Merchant) because it's very tasty and accessible, and at 11% alcohol, this bottle will not directly result in too many abusive comments amongst my family members. None of those bottles costs more than about $15, unless you buy the fanciest Bordelet Ciders which are beautiful, but also drier than the turkey you will very shortly be forced to eat.

I'm bringing white wine too, and nothing terribly creative - Mosel Riesling, thank you very much. Why not, really? It works well with the food, the sweet orchard fruit makes people happy,and the saw-like acidity makes me happy. In my family, I seem to be the only one who drinks white wine during thanksgiving dinner, so if I want to drink 2008 Knebel Riesling Trocken and 2009 Peter Lauer Saar Riesling Barrel X, then that is exactly what I shall drink. These are both imported by Mosel Wine Merchant, cost around $15 each, and are legitimately excellent wines.

You might be surprised to hear that I am also bringing red wine this year. I would bring Beaujolais, but the ones that I like the most cost at least $20 per bottle, and I'd prefer to spend less. I know it's a bit bulkier than is ideal, but I tend to bring Loire Cabernet Franc wines to Thanksgiving dinner because people expect their red wines to be brawny and dark, and I certainly do not want to rain on my family's parade. So I'll bring 2007 Filliatreau Saumur-Champigny La Grande Vignolle, $18, Louis/Dressner Imports and 2007 Domaine Guion Bourgueil Cuvée Prestige, $14, Fruit of the Vines Imports. These wines are actually far more graceful and balanced than people might like, but they are delicious wines that will make people happy and whose spicy undertones should pair nicely with the frustrated political discourse and inappropriate career advice that will flow freely during dinner.

Hope this helps!


Anonymous said...

Wow! I happened to be sipping the Guion as I read your article and had been thinking: could work nicely for Thanksgiving.

Thanks so much for this.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm, sounds very familiar. I used to bring very good wines to try to please the others but now I just bring wine that I want to drink because no one cares. My mother-in-laws' turkey makes me drink as much as possible and I try to fall asleep soon after.

Cliff said...

Totally agree with the approach. I find excellent examples of relatively modest things the best way to go for celebrations like this.

Timothy Lock said...

call me a cheapskate, but i also think it's just simple economics. If you are bringing wine for a big gathering that everyone is going to share but very few will appreciate, might as well find the high value, low cost wines. Guion (both the domaine and prestige) is always one of my "go-to" wines for this. I also like to rock the Barth Pinot D'Alsace and some of the lower-end Texier numbers (Cotes Du Rhone and the Vaison La Romaine).

Anonymous said...

If my brother-in-law were to come, I'd be inclined to put out expensive Chateauneuf du Pape (his preferred Thanksgiving drink). Which is somewhat sad, because, given the chaos of the afternoon, it's lost on everyone, especially me as host. But he's not coming after all, so thoughts run to a recent Chinon and perhaps a Vouvray and even some Pradeaux rose. If my wife allowed American wine in the house, I'd go for the Dash Zin that Asimov mentioned today and a Finger Lake Riesling. I'd rather do indigenous, but no convincing her that anyone but the French and Italians make good wine (I even had to sneak some Heredia down the cellar).

phillywinefinder said...

Really like your suggestions and reasoning. I like the idea of sparkling cider. Some of our picks for Thanksgiving in Philly are here:

Michael Powers said...

Just tried the Guion '08 Cuvee Domaine recently and loved it and also happened to have the Prestige slated for Thanksgiving! I also picked up another case of the Cuvee Domaine when CSW closed it out, probably the finest value I have run across in ages.

I've also heard things about the Filletreau but not yet tried it out.

Heartland Underdog said...

I also agree! I find (or create) simple versions of trendy libations that both please and impress my family while keeping things easy and inexpensive.

Last year we made a fall sangria, and before that a pear cocktail using the liquid made while poaching the dessert. This year I'm thinking mulled wine.

And of course my two Uncles are always in charge of bringing a few bottles of wine they like.

Funny though, those who bring the booze are almost the only ones who drink it.