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Sunday, November 23, 2008

Thanksgiving White Wines

Chardonnay, Riesling are among the choices

Gathered around virtually every dinner table will be some red-wine people and some white-wine people. Generally, assuming it's a relatively polite crowd, the red crowd will put on a good face and sip white and vice versa, as the menu dictates. But chances are one group will be far less happy than the other.

Turkey, happily, pairs wonderfully with both reds and whites, so both camps can, during this one meal, at least, dine in perfect harmony.

"Thanksgiving food can carry many different types of wines," says chef Marcus Guiliano of Aroma Thyme Bistro in Ellenville. "Turkey with all the trimmings can go with most whites and a good number of reds. It's your tastes in wine which count the most."

Go California

When it comes to white wine and turkey, Guiliano especially likes California chardonnays.

"These full-bodied wines with oak and butter notes go great with pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes and mashed potatoes," the chef says.

Guiliano suggests McCrostie Chardonnay for its "great balance," or, for more richness, Fess Parker Ashley's Vineyard.

"This is your big California chardonnay, (and) if that is what you like, then don't overlook Mount Eden Estate (Santa Cruz) & Truchard (Napa Valley).

From France, Guiliano says Beaujolais Blanc from Jean Paul Brun is a favorite with-turkey wine at the bistro, as is gewürztraminer, such as G3 from Resonance in Oregon. "This is a crowd pleaser with notes of ginger, lychee, tropical fruits and honeysuckle," he says.

The intenser, the better

Tim Free, the wine consultant at of Mid Valley Wines and Liquor in the Town of Newburgh, says Thanksgiving whites are best when they fall into the medium- to full-intensity range.

"This leaves out most pinot grigio, vinho verdes, etc. Many people like rieslings, or even gewürztraminer or vouvray, with turkey, while others lean toward the drier types of chardonnay or its more exotic heavyweight counterpart, viognier," Free says. "The sweetness issue is a personal taste consideration, but sometimes the base of turkey-day gravy can be a sweet wine used for pan-deglazing, (and) this makes a slightly sweet riesling really perfect for any food that's anointed with gravy."

Free's picks include the 2006 Millbrandt Vineyards "Traditions" Riesling (regular price $13.99, sale price $11.89). "It's almost dry, but has big flavors — think about buying a dessert wine to deglaze the roasting pan for your gravy to 'build a wine bridge'. This wine will sing with the gravy and anything it touches!" Free says.

Happy with 2006 Morgan

In chardonnay, Free likes the 2006 Morgan Chardonnay (regular price $18.99, sale price $15.99). "This is what chardonnay lovers refer to as a 'big boy,' and with its subtle shading of oak, full body, and great balance, it will make many people happy when it makes its appearance on your table," Free says.

Free notes that the growing popularity of dry rosé wines has increased the number of people drinking them at Thanksgiving.

"For this kind of meal, rosé is very flexible, but you need to find one that has at least medium body and a reasonably full intensity of flavor," he says.

The 2007 Jaboulet Parallele 45 Rosé 2007 (regular price $10.99, sale price $9.49), Free says, "is a rather creamy-styled rosé that is dry but rich-tasting. Its flavors are a mélange of peach and berry; it will be equally at home with turkey and, of course, cranberry sauce."

Sparklers such as Veuve Ambal Blanc des Blancs Brut (regular price $11.99, sale price $9.99) also have a place at the table, Free says. "We serve them with light appetizers and then find that many of our guests continue drinking them as a segue into the main meal.

"This dry but soft sparkler is a great way to start out the meal, but it has enough flavor and body to stay right in there with the turkey and even its stuffing," Free says. "It's also quite refreshing, an important factor in a big meal."

Cleanse the palate

Jim Morrison, the wine expert at Consumer Discount Wines and Liquors in the Dunning Road Plaza, Town of Wallkill, reaches for something low oak and butter with good palate-cleansing acidity. His picks include the Mer Soleil Silver ($34.99), a "dynamite" unoaked chardonnay; the 2007 Duckhorn Sauvignon Blanc ($31.99); the 2006 A to Z Pinot Gris ($14.99), or a nice dry riesling like the 2007 Chateau Ste. Michelle.

Michael Taiani, a Pine Bush-based wine consultant and owner of Wines by the Glass Enterprises, is also a fan of riesling with Thanksgiving.

"I always recommend the slightly sweet to medium-sweet styled rieslings from either Germany or Washington state," says Taiani. He suggests Germany's Selbach-Oster Riesling Kabinett Zeltlinger Schlossberg (approximately $20), and Washington's Chateau Ste. Michelle "Eroica" Riesling (approximately $20). "(This is) their flagship riesling wine, (and it) delivers mandarin orange and sweet lime aromas and flavors with subtle mineral notes."

Another Taiani suggestion finds the middle ground — Brachetto d'Acqui — Italy's fizzy, slightly sweet, deep pink wine. Readily available, he says, are Marenco "Pineto" Brachetto d'Acqui (approximately $26) and Banfi "Rosa Regale" Brachetto d'Acqui (approximately $20).

Just sparkling

Robin Mailey of the Callicoon Wine Merchant also recommends bubbly.

"If you're feeling in the mood, Eric Bordelet from Normandy makes two sparklers that scream Thanksgiving. With dinner, try his Cidre Argelette, a blend of 20 heirloom apple varietals," Mailey says. "For dessert, his poire granit is made from 200-year-old pear trees."


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