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swirl and savor

No Cop-Outs, Following My Heart on Turkey Day!

Beth Ribblett

I just finished my post on our Thanksgiving Hit List of food and wine pairings for your holiday meals, so it got me thinking about what we will be drinking. And I started to feel like I took the easy way out, as do most wine/food writers, suggesting all of the classic pairings when I knew that I personally would probably not be drinking any of those wines. While it would be lovely to bring the traditional Champagne, nicely followed by an Alsatian Riesling or Oregon Pinot Gris and finished off with a beautiful red Burgundy, my heart, of course, is always in Italy. Why play it safe just because everyone else does? After all, isn't that what this business is all about for me, finding those obscure varietals, interesting producers and unlikely choices that the average wine drinker would probably not even know about or where to get? So, here I am writing another post, take it or leave it, on what I really want to drink on Thanksgiving day!

We've been invited by friends to go to the beach for turkey day with our only responsibility being that of bringing the wine. We'll be working late on Wednesday so that, unfortunately, leaves no time for cooking and makes bringing the wine an easy task. It will be the usual fare, no Italian influence here, just good old American food.

Sparkling was the easiest choice. Thanks to our friend Jared at International Wine and Spirits, we just received a case of the Murgo Sparkling wines from the slopes of Mount Etna in Sicily. Made with Nerello Mascalese grown volcanic soils these are the most unique bubblies I've tasted in a while. The Brut greets you with crisp apples and yeast on the nose with bright citrus tones on the palate and a wonderfully long finish. The rose, also of Nerello Mascalese, has delicious cherry, red fruits and a delightful mineral, almost smoky finish. It will be a hard choice, so I'll most likely take one of each...

Whites become a little more difficult to chose because there are SO many amazing Italian white food wines. The first that comes to mind is the Bastianich Vespa Bianco, a blend of 45% Chardonnay, 45% Sauvignon and 10% late-harvested Picolit. Stone fruit intertwined with smoke and a touch of earthiness; somehow fat and crisp at the same time. But then there is also the Fontanabianca Arneis with its concentration of plump, ripe fruit and distinct white spice, lively acidity and notes of yellow peach in the finish. And I can't forget the wine I just tasted the other night with Matt Lirette, a 2010 Tre Bicchieri winner, the Rocca del Principe Fiano di Avellino. It greets you with pretty scents of flowers and soft apricots with that tell tale touch of smoky minerality exhibited by wines born out of volcanic soils. So, this will be a hard choice, but one or two of these will be coming with us!

I knew which red I would drinking on Thanksgiving day the first time I tasted it at the Planeta winery in Sicily. The Planeta Cerasuolo is a delightful wine is named for its remarkable color as cerasuolo means "cherry red" in Italian. Made from two local grapes, the Frappato imparts ripe berry flavors and freshness, while the Nero d'Avola gives it a supple tannic structure, richness and intensity. It offers an immediate bright cherry fruit component that dominates the aromatics, but then gives way to the blacker, earthier fruits of the Nero on the palate. Soft, supple, fresh and lively it is a wonderful change for Pinot Noir lovers looking for something on the wild side! A GREAT pick for Thanksgiving, it will really shine with turkey and cranberries!

So there you have it, my true picks for holiday wines for those of you adventurous enough to care! Have a great holiday no matter what you drink!