Five Ways to Make Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Easy

thanksgiving-table.jpgNot sure what wine you want to put out on the table with the big bird and all the fixings? Here are some fool-proof strategies for picking great bottles to share with family and friends before, during, and after the big meal:

Lighten Up! – Well, that’s good general advice for a day that’s about being thankful for all the gifts of family, friends and the year. In wine terms, though, it means balancing the heaviness of traditional Thanksgiving feasts with lighter, refreshing wines. For whites try minerally Riesling (dry or lightly sweet), crisp Italian whites, or something more exotic like Txakoli. For reds, elegant Willamette Valley Pinot Noir will be a winner, as will good Beaujolais (not Nouveau), zingy Northern Italian reds or – a favorite of ours – Mencia from Spain’s Ribera Sacra.

thanksgiving-red.jpgPower Through – It’s a big meal, so match it with full and fleshy wines bursting with bold flavors. American Zinfandel and California Pinot Noirs are the classic suggestions here. But bold Rhone reds like Chateauneuf du Pape and Cotes du Rhone are just as much fun. You can find great value in Spain’s Tempranillo and Monestrell grapes or add a bit of luxury by going with powerful Priorat or even majestic Brunello di Montalcino.

champagne glassesBring on the Bubbles! – It’s 11 am, the oven is cranked, pots are simmering on the stove, maybe you’ve just come in from setting up the turkey fryer – just imagine how good an ice-cold glass of fizz will taste! Sparkling wine is welcome at every table all year ‘round. Maybe start with some friendly Prosecco or Cava pre-dinner, then step up to rich, toasty Champagne to enhance stuffing and sweet potatoes. And nothing will make the dinner table look more elegant (or those way too heavy mashed potatoes go down easier) than pretty pink rosé fizz in every glass.

Give Up – Look, here’s what every wine professional knows: No wine is a really good match for the cacophonous spread of sweet, savory, tangy and salty foods on the traditional Thanksgiving table. While it’s not obvious how oaky California Chardonnay, rich Napa Cab, or savory matured Bordeaux will pair with your Thanksgiving dinner, who cares? It’s a feast. Eat as much as you like and drink whatever the heck you want to – just be thankful you can!

Finish with Sweet Success – The turkey has been demolished, dishes are piled up waiting to be washed, and only crumbs remain in the pumpkin pie plate. As you settle down to digest and savor the day, one last sip of something sweet is the perfect treat. Port, sweet Chenin, tangy Madeira, subtle Sauternes – any and all will bring an unexpectedly luxurious and delightful close to Thanksgiving Day!

Want to see some specific suggestions? Just visit our CBC Thanksgiving Selections page, and you’ll find our staff favorites for enjoying on Thanksgiving Day and beyond. Or just stop by our give us a call. We’ll be thankful we had the chance to make your Thanksgiving Day just a bit tastier.

The Key to Affordable (and Magical!) Champagne

“How in the world can a wine this good, a Champagne that spent a huge six years on the lees, be so very, very, affordable?”

Charels Clement cuvee speciale

Charles Clement Cuvee Speciale tastes like $70 Champagne, yet retails for under $40.

Today we’re offering two champagnes from Charles Clement. The Charles Clement Cuvee Speciale and its toasty sibling, the Cuvee Tradition Brut have been delivering high-end Champagne delight at almost Prosecco-like prices for a couple of years here at Chain Bridge Cellars.

But why are they so affordable?

Chalres Clement HistoryFounded as a Co-op. A big part of the answer to that is how Charles Clement is organized and what it doesn’t do. The winery was born in 1956 when 22 growers in Champagne’s Aube region joined together to buy a wine press, allowing them to move from selling grapes to delivering fermented wine to the big Champagne houses.

As the number of members grew, so did their ambition. Under the leadership of fellow grower Charles Clement, they purchased cellar space, a bottling line, and – in 1972 – released their first bottled Champagne.

And Still a Co-Op Today. Today the cooperative remains owned by its 59 farmers who tend vines covering 110 hectares across the Aube.Charels Clement people today2

Since the coop members own their vineyards and winery, they don’t have to charge themselves the high prices the big name houses pay for most of their grapes/base wine. They are easily able to sell almost all their production in France, where Champagne-lovers drink what they like and appreciate a good value.

So Charles Clement doesn’t have to buy expensive advertising, pay celebrities to drink their wine at fancy clubs, or hide inferior juice in faux leather carrying bags.

All they do is grow good grapes, make fine wine, and allow time in the bottle to do its magic. You can try it yourself anytime this week (today seems like a good idea!) and mix/match with the outstanding value Cuvee Tradition for best in the nation savings.

Pretty magical indeed!


A Closer Look at France’s Moselle

Marie-Geneviève and Norbert MolozayAs is often the case, this week’s featured white, Ch de Vaux Moselle Blanc Les Gryphées, extra delicious in the 2018 vintage, has us wanting to explore a relatively unknown wine region: Moselle.

Marie-Geneviève and Norbert Molozay discovered this tiny French region – 100 acres in total – and purchased and revitalized the best estate there in 1999.

Sparkling History. Moselle was an important wine region in the 1700 and 1800s, producing mainly Pinot Noir used to make Champagne in Reims, to the east, or sparkling Sekt in Germany (between the Franco-Prussian war and WWI). The creation of the Champagne AOC, which eliminated Moselle grapes, the arrival of phylloxera, and heavy industrialization together essentially wiped out vine growing and wine making here from the 1920s on.

Moselle MapDespite the collapse of its major French and German sparkling wine markets, an eccentric history teacher, one Jean-Marie Diligent, kept Ch de Vaux going through the mid-20th century with a new focus on making and bottling their own still wines.

Seeing Potential. Which is where things stood when Norbert Molozay – a native of Beaujolais and graduate of the wine school in Dijon – and Marie-Genevieve Molozay – from a wine merchant family in nearby Metz – discovered it in 1999.

They saw the potential and invested heavily to realize it. They expanded Ch de Vaux’s holding (they now own about one-third of the AOC’s vines) and converted to organic farming to improve quality. Since 2014, they have been Demeter certified biodynamic farmers and also certified vegan – meaning no animal products are used in any element of winemaking.

Ch de Vaux Moselle Blanc Les Gryphées labelCh de Vaux Moselle Blanc Les Gryphées 2018, their lead white, shows the results of all that hard work. It’s a blend of Alsace grapes – 30% Auxerrois, 30% Muller Thurgau (a crossing of Riesling and Chasselas), 30% Tokay Pinot Gris and 10% Gewurztraminer. The vines grow on rocky terraces covered with clay and limestone with a south/southeast exposure. Each grape variety is fermented separately to full dryness in temperature controlled stainless steel before bottling clear, fresh, and invigorating.


Ch de Vaux Moselle Blanc Les Gryphées