Sometimes I consider myself fortunate. For as long as I have been into wine (10 years to be exact), I have had the great pleasure of attending some large, over the top, wine tastings. I'm talking anywhere from 80-150+ wines in one afternoon or evening. You'd think my palate would be fried! But really, this is how I "honed my chops" so to speak. These tastings enabled me to get where I am today, slowly but surely...
I attended one such tasting this past weekend and I wanted to do a blog based on this tasting while it was still fresh in my mind. I also thought a lot about what wine I could serve guests for Thanksgiving. It's November 4th already (Where did Summer run off to?) and let's face it---you must have a wine plan of attack by now or you might be toast. Here are some helpful hints to make it easy and less stressful for you. Plus if you cook a nice feast to go with these wines, you'll be good as gold! I will be test tasting more throughout the season and will report accordingly!
Dilemma #1: "I have a lot of friends who are new to wine or like sweet wines. Short of white Zin, I have no clue how to make them happy. Help!!!"
The answer is simple. Serve them a white that has some sweetness coming from the fruit and not so much from the sugar level. This will help them transition into the drier whites and maybe eventually even some reds!
Wine Of Choice: 2008 Peter Lehmann "Layers": An Aussie wine made with five grape varietals: Semillon, Muscat, Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris and Chardonnay, this wine is crisp and very flavorful, redolent of peaches and flowers and has 11.5% alcohol, making it very slightly sweet and will easily satisfy the palate of new and old wine drinkers alike! Priced at around $17. A very nice buy. Check your local wine shop to see if they have this.
Dilemma #2: "I want to serve Chardonnay at my Thanksgiving dinner, but I have no idea what to look for. I've given up on Chardonnay because most of them are too oaky to suit my taste and the good ones are always out of my price range."
No problem! Here's a nice recommendation that won't break your pocketbook: 2007 St. Supery Chardonnay Oak-Free. At around $24, this wine will not break the bank and promises a very nice, true to the grape flavor. Really nice tropical fruits, absolutely no wood or butter. Just pure Chardonnay at its finest. A breath of fresh air. One should be able to find this Chardonnay at most wine stores. If not, go to www.stsupery.com for more details.
Dilemma #3: I heard Rosé is really making a comeback. Does it have to be White Zinfandel? Aren't there others that are better? How can I find a fun Rosé wine to serve for the holidays?
Well here's your answer! 2008 Bitch Bubbly!!! First of all, the title is awesome, the wine is tasty (a Grenache/Shiraz blend that sparkles) and the bottle is the coolest! Not sweet, just fun! Watch out, Ladies! This one's for you! How much is it? $10. Yes--way!! Put some sass into your holiday with this pink gem! New to my area, but maybe not to yours. Check it out!
Dilemma #4: I keep reading that Pinot Noir is perfect for holiday meals! But ever since that dreaded movie came out (and we all know which movie that is!), I can't find a decent Pinot Noir for a price that won't make me go bankrupt! What gives? I welcome any ideas you have!
Well, I just happened to have stumbled upon a real find this past weekend. 2005 Bianchi Pinot Noir Garey Vineyard. At $28, this Central Coast find from Santa Maria, California will not be on the shelves for long! It bursts with all kinds of berries and has a velvety, spicy finish. Mmmm... Very nice! Perfect with turkey and all the accompaniments. www.bianchiwinery.com
Dilemma #5: We've reached the dessert course and my guests want more! More wine! Is there something I can serve that will pair well with a plethora of desserts? Please advise...
This is where Cellarmistress decided to drink local. (And no, I don't live in California.) It is time for all my out of state readers to focus on my tiny little home state of Iowa and a winery we call Tassel Ridge. Located in Leighton, Iowa--an hour or so south of Des Moines, this winery combines the home grown grape varietals with grapes from California to produce some very interesting blends! I had the pleasure of sampling many of theirs this past weekend and one that really stood out was the Chocolate GranFinale. Luscious and decadent, this dessert wine pairs wonderfully with creamy, fruity or even chocolate desserts! It had a very nice chocolate and berry flavor. I have no idea what grape varietals they used but I really didn't want to think about it. I just wanted to drink it. $20. www.tasselridge.com.
I hope this list took some of the fear out of you! I plan on doing a few more installments as we get closer to the end of the year. Stay tuned for Christmas Wine Extravaganza and Winter Bubblyland! Cheers!