As I mentioned in my last post, Thanksgiving is a month away and already I am preparing our menu. I do love planning a holiday meal! Thinking ahead, I decided to go into Nespor’s Wine and Spirits to chat with Chad Lohman – owner of Nespor’s and Certified Sommelier – about his wine recommendations for Thanksgiving.
Our conversation went like this …
(Me) Hi, Chad, if you have time, I’d love to talk with you about your wine recommendations for Thanksgiving so that I can pass them along to my readers. I don’t want to take too much of your time, but I have a couple of specific topics on which I am hoping to pick your brain.
(Me) First of all, I think that Champagnes are great for serving with special meals because they go well with so many different types of food.
(Chad) I agree, but unfortunately a lot of people don’t realize that Champagnes, Proseccos, and Cavas – basically, any good sparkling wine – are great for serving at holidays because they do go so well with food. We have a Cava from Spain that we are recommending for Thanksgiving this year. Naveran Cava Brut 2010 ($16.99), which was given 90 points by Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate, is a nice neutral sparkling wine for pairing with foods.
(Me) Since not everyone appreciates sparkling wines, what would you recommend for a white wine to serve with Thanksgiving dinner?
(Chad) For holiday meals where there are so many different flavors on the table, it is a good idea to have a wine that works well with a lot of foods rather than trying to pair a wine with every dish. Also, you want something that is accessible to different palates. An off-dry Riesling or Gewürztraminer – but not the sweeter varieties – would perform well in this role. You want something that is lightly sweet, but has good acidity. A couple of recommendations would be Alsace Willm Riesling and Hook & Ladder Gewürztraminer ($19.99).
(Me) Oh, yes, I purchased some of the Hook & Ladder around this time last year. It’s not too sweet and has a bite of grapefruit in the finish. I remember liking it with food, but that it wasn’t what I would consider a sipping wine.
(Chad) Right. For a sipping wine, I would go with a Sauvignon Blanc or Chardonnay.
(Me) … something like Rodney Strong Charlotte’s Home Sauvignon Blanc ($19.99)
(Chad) … which is a classic Sauvignon Blanc, or Honig from Napa Valley which is Cabernet country.
(Me) Thanks. Sorry, I digressed. So, getting back on topic, I am quite happy to drink white wines with Thanksgiving dinner, but I know that we have some friends who don’t like white wines. I briefly considered serving a dry rosé from France, but thought that would be too light to hold up to most of the foods on the table; and someone who doesn’t like white wines, probably isn’t going to like a rosé anyway. Do you have any reds to recommend for me?
(Chad) A darker colored dry rosé – not a sweet White Zin – should hold up ok. Les Lauzeraies Tavel 2012 ($15.99) is a dry rosé with more body and would go with a Thanksgiving ham, for example. For reds, a Pinot Noir or Gamay Beaujolais would pair nicely with Thanksgiving dishes … and, of course, there is always Beaujolais Nouveau which comes out around the 3rd week of November.
(Me) Right. I usually have a Beaujolais Nouveau for one of our Thanksgiving selections. It is very light and as you put it, “accessible”; and also is a traditional selection for the time of year. But if I wanted to serve a Pinot Noir or Gamay Beaujolais, what would be your recommendation?
(Chad) We have two Pinot Noirs that we are recommending right now: Monte Degli Angeli 2012 ($12.99) and Lomas del Valle 2012 ($14.99). The Monte del Angeli is more earthy and has a softer mouth feel. The Lomas del Valle ($14.99) has more of a big fruit, big (alcohol) mouth feel.
(Me) In my November (Thanksgiving) newsletter, I am including a recipe for Chanterelles Risotto with Truffle Butter.
(Chad) The Monte del Angelli should go nicely with the earthy flavors of the Chanterelles and truffles.
(Me) Now what about dessert? I’ve served dessert wines a few years and they don’t seem that popular at Thanksgiving. Everyone is pretty full by then, of course. I’m thinking about maybe having a brandy for after dinner instead.
(Chad) My recommendation would be a Ruby Port or a Tawny Port, but not a Vintage Port. Now with ports, you are going to want to avoid the inexpensive ones. Which do you think you would prefer? Tawny ports are going to have a little bit more of a nutty flavor. Ruby ports will be a little fruitier.
(Me) Let’s try a ruby.
(Chad) Nierpoort Ruby is actually not a bad price ($19.99) and would be nice for after dinner. Serve it at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit, around the same temperature that you would serve a rosé.
(Me) Great. Sounds like we have some good ideas. Thanks, Chad!
It seems T-Day will be here sooner than we expect. This year, dessert is our assignment. It’ll be more than the pumpkin pie.
I love pumpkin pie, but there are so many great desserts that one can make for Thanksgiving. Have fun choosing!
We ordered our Thanksgiving turkey from our local co-op yesterday. We have one bottle of wine left from our trip to South Africa last year… actually purchased on our last day in wine country, this date a year ago. Our guide recommended that we let it age one year. We plan to celebrate with this over Thanksgiving. South African reds are terrific. Unfortunately, the importing process here (every state has different laws, thanks to Prohibition) is so difficult, few of the smaller wineries can get through the process. Do wine grape grow where you are? This is not the image that comes to my mind. Virginia, just east of us, has lots of small wineries of varying quality. Again, state-by-state laws make transporting them around difficult to market the product… then their is the California wine giants dominating the shelves…. Cheers.
Kansas was a major grape-growing and wine-producing area prior to prohibition. Mostly, it was farmers producing wines for their families’ consumption rather than for commercial production. Grape production is coming back in Kansas, though I think that it is not yet as strong as in Missouri. We do have a couple of local wineries. Mostly they produce sweet wines. We’ll see how that evolves over time. I have two grape vines in our front yard that I planted this past spring – a malbec and a cab franc. The difficulty with attempting commercial wine production in this area is that our weather is so variable from year to year. We can be in drought or floods. We can have severe winters or mild winters. Summers can be unbearablly hot, but aren’t always. Also, our weather in winter, is inconsistent. We might have a 70 degree day in January followed by a harsh ice storm. So the quality of the grape production is inconsistent. A trend that is catching on in Kansas is growing crops under high tunnels. I am not sure whether that would help with the grapes.
I have had a few South African white wines at wine tastings. I think that they were Sauv Blancs.
Kansas only allows a few wine/liquor distributers to sell in the state, so we are limited to what the distributers decide to carry. We get a pretty good selection, but it is disappointing when a distributer decides to drop something that I like because it isn’t selling well enough or when I would like to special order something that I have read about and it isn’t available in this state. I once tried to order from a winery in Texas and KS laws prevented the sale.