What We’re Tasting: How Sweet It Is

Wine-and-Chocolate

Maybe we were all picked last for dodgeball in gym class as kids, but we’re suckers for wines that have a bad reputation.  We just want to rescue them from obscurity and show everyone how fantastic they can be!

Hawley Late Harvest Zin – This was a real discovery for us.  Often, dry red Zinfandel can be a little heavy and jammy.  This late-harvest version, harvested at 32 brix, too high to really be fermented into dry table wine, avoids many of the pitfalls of regular red Zinfandel.  Mouthwatering acidity balances the sweetness, and it’s surprisingly light on the palate for a dessert wine made from Zinfandel.  Perfect for a ‘little something’ after dinner, or with any dessert involving berries or chocolate.

Dow’s 2011 – Port can be an intimidating category, with so much history, a high price point, and all the different types (LBV?  Tawny?).  Well, there’s no need to break out the Oxford Companion here.  2011 is considered to be an absolute monster of a Port vintage, with the structure to age, but ripe, luscious tannins that make the wines enjoyable today, too.  The only thing you need to decide is whether you want it in half or full bottles.  A few dark chocolates on a fancy platter, and dessert for your next dinner party is all set.

Perucchi Vermouth Gran Reserva Red – We know what you’re thinking: Isn’t Vermouth that stuff you try to avoid in martinis?  The stuff moldering in the rail at your local bar?  We thought so, too, until we tried some of the better Vermouths out there, like this handmade red Vermouth from Italian producer Perucchi.  Its aromas are so complex, you’ll just want to dive into the glass.  It elevates a Manhattan for sure, but its spicy aromas are perfect for this cooler time of year, and can be enjoyed solo or with a twist of orange peel and a splash of club soda or sparkling mineral water.

It may not be cool to admit you have a sweet tooth, but we won’t tell anyone.  Take a break from Thanksgiving menu planning and gift shopping to indulge in a little something sweet!

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Your Guide to a Foolproof Thanksgiving!

thanksgiving sign

No matter how early or late Thanksgiving is, it always sneaks up on you, doesn’t it?  Here are a few wine pairing and entertaining tips to help you make your Thanksgiving a holiday to remember!

Start with bubbles.  We’re wild for fizz of any kind around here, but we’re especially hooked on the latest release of Jean Michel Guillon’s Cremant de Bourgogne.  A blanc de noirs made from very high-quality Pinot Noir, it’s always a sparkler that punches above its weight, but this year there’s just something extra-special about it.  And since this is the last year it’ll be produced at this estate, snap some up while you can!

Think “mouthwatering.”  It’s not secret that while turkey is swell, it’s no New York Strip. No matter how much trouble you go to brining and fussing over the big bird, it’s always missing a little something in the moisture department.  For this reason, we recommend reds that are big on flavor, but easy on heavy tannins, like this juicy St. Amour from Beaujolais, or, for something a little bolder but still turkey-friendly, this classic Zinfandel from Seghesio.  For whites, Thanksgiving is a great opportunity to break out whites that feature fuller, richer, more ‘fall fruit’ flavors.  Gewurztraminer, with its extravagant fruit flavors and spicy aromatics, is a classic for a reason, and this one from Trimbach manages to keep all that richness well-balanced.  For something a little zippier, this Pinot Gris from Austria’s Hillinger has plenty of juicy pear fruit.

Don’t forget dessert!  And to go with pumpkin pie, or any fall fruit or nut-based dessert, a nip of this very special Madeira will really put things over the top!  Though it seems like a splurge, a little of this complex Madeira goes a long way, and the leftovers will keep indefinitely.

Keep it simple.  Unless you’re entertaining a group of hardcore foodies, trying to perfectly match each course or dish to a specific wine is a recipe for insanity!  We’ve found that having a white and red either both on the table or readily accessible keeps everyone more than happy.

Lastly, here’s our full list of featured wines for Thanksgiving – all sure to be delicious crowd pleasers!

The Thanksgiving meal is a reflection of the day itself: a big jumble of flavors, spices, and personalities!  That boisterous mix is part of what makes it so much fun, and such a quintessentially American holiday.  So, at the end of the day, there is no perfect pairing – you should drink what you like, whether it’s a big, bold red or a crisp, refreshing white.  Our best advice is to not sweat the finer points of food and wine pairing on a day like today, and make sure to make extra pie so you can have a slice for breakfast the next day.