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swirl and savor

Let's Talk Turkey, Annual Thanksgiving Hit List

Beth Ribblett

Those of you who shop with us know that we just love food and wine pairing so helping to make your selections for holiday meals is a real treat. What should you drink with all of those sides and mounds of turkey? There are so many answers to that question that sometimes the best choice would be to open a bubbly, white, red and rose, put them on the table and let people chose for themselves because it’s all about personal preference!

Every year I give a few pairing tips and recommendations from our staff.   We’ve chosen traditional and some more adventurous options at different price points so there is something for palate and every wallet.  Each of the wines will have a tag with our silly turkey photo above to let you know who picked it and if you purchase any 4 of these wines for your celebration, we’ll give you a 10% discount.

1.  For the wide array of flavors on the Thanksgiving table, sparkling wines are a no-brainer. Bright acidity, fruit and yeasty undertones make bubbly extremely food-friendly. Especially good are Brut Rosé and Blanc de Noir, which can take you from the lox or chevre hors d'oeuvre to the vinaigrette salad right through the turkey and potatoes and onto the pie. The Pinot Noir grapes in these wines provide body, some tannin for texture, red-fruit character, complexity and acid balance. And in general, the bubbles from natural carbonation from the yeast, in concert with the wine's acidity, help cleanse the palate for the next course.

Our Picks: Beth: Terres Dores FRV Sparkling Beaujolais, $20; Mike: Calixte Cremant d'Alsace, $18.99; Matt:  Berlucchi Sparkling Brut, $18.99;  Kerry: Graham Beck Sparkling Rosé $19.99; Kimi: Jean Velut Champagne, $41.50

White wines with lively fruit and acidity and little to no oak are also versatile. With its aromas and flavors of citrus, apple and pear and zippy acidity plus herbal notes, Sauvignon Blanc pairs with everything from butternut-squash soup to green salad to turkey with a dressing made of briny oysters and herbs. Even notoriously tough-to-pair Brussels sprouts will sing with Sauvignon Blanc. Alsatian and German whites like Rieslings, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Gris with their tropical fruit, citrus, green-apple, pear and mineral notes combined with thirst quenching acidity, work with almost any Thanksgiving dish except the cranberry sauce.

Our Pick:  Mike: 2010 Tablas Creek Patelin de Tablas, $21;  Matt: 2011 Closel Savennières la Jalousie, $23.99;  Beth: 2011 Andrew Rich Tabula Rasa, $19.99; Kerry: 2011 Contesa Pecorino, $17.99, Kimi: 2011 Enjingi Welschriesling

Fruity reds and dry rosés are a favorite "go-to" pick for Thanksgiving. They bring soft, easy drinking affordability to the table that's perfect for the cornucopia of flavors and large group setting that Thanksgiving entails. With their bright fruit flavors, they can perk up the milder dishes and enough have structure to hold their own with the more robust courses made with sausage and herbs. As an alternative, a good Dolcetto or lighter style Barbera can offer similar characteristics and are real crowd pleasers.

Our Pick: Mike: 2010 Tami Frappato, $17.99; $16.99;  Kimi;  2009 Villa Ponciago Beaujolais Fleurie Reserve, $21; Beth: 2010 Sutton Cellars Mendocino Carignane ; Kerry: 2011 Domaine Skouras Zoe Rosé and 2011 Terre Nere Etna Rosso

 Bigger reds with spicy, dark fruit and berries like Syrah and Zinfandel can bring out the best in cranberry sauces as long as the wine has soft tannins and ripe, forward fruit and the sauce is balanced -- moderately tart and not too sweet. 

Our Picks:  Mike: 2009 Radar Syrah, $17.99;  Matt: 2008 Dominio IV Technicolor Bat Tempranillo/Syrah, $23.99; Kimi: 2009 Ultraviolet Cabernet; Kerry: 2010 Clos de Caveau Vacqueyras, $20.99; Beth: 2009 J. Daan Cabernet Franc, $23.99

The most popular single wine to choose for Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir. This versatile varietal has tangy red fruit of strawberry and cherry, with nice acidity to balance and low levels of tannin. With elegance and a touch of earthiness to lend complexity, Pinot Noir will subtly support most things on the Thanksgiving table without overpowering them. Cranberry sauce and dessert are exceptions again, with the sauce too tart and the dessert too sweet. Something a little more adventurous, but with a similar profile could be an Etna Rosso or a Sicilian Cerasuolo.

Our Pick:  Matt: 2009 Pierre Andre Bourgogne Rouge, $15.99; Kimi: 2009 J.J. Pinot Noir, $19.99; Kerry: 2008 Moises Holmes Hill Pinot Noir, $36.99; Beth: 2007 Cristom Eola-Amity Hills Eileen Vineyard, $45
So there you have it! But remember the most important thing is to drink wines that make you happy with people that make you smile, because that is what it's all about!