October 7, 2015. 7:45AM
Theme: Thanksgiving Dinner Wine Picks
Overview: Today on CTV Morning Live, CTV Host Lianne Laing and Guest Somm Matt Steeves showcased some great wines to enjoy with your special Thanksgiving meal, wines that complement Thanksgiving dinners and pair well with difficult relatives too.
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinners, there are so many options, variations, and considerations, the sky is the limit, and the same goes for wine pairings too.
Whether you’re roasting a turkey, ham, lamb, or vegan dish, that’s just the start of planning what your epic Thanksgiving meal will entail.
I’ve got some great options here that complement the full range of food options for you and yours this Thanksgiving weekend.
Thanksgiving meals bring the finest autumn harvest ingredients together, often in one epic meal. This compilation of so many tasty harvest treats makes wine pairing so interesting as there are countless options beyond just pairing with the protein (the turkey, lamb, pork, or tofu). Adding various vegetables, and how you cook them, and what sauce or spices, if any, you use, impacts the flavour profile meaning the dish will taste better with certain wines than others. Not to worry, picking an appropriate wine doesn’t have to be complicated if you follow this one basic tip:
Matt’s Pro Tip: Pair wine with the sauce not the protein.
Case in point is the difference between turkey with a rich gravy or turkey with a sweet and tangy cranberry sauce; both quite similar but the different sauces, one creamy and rich, one sweet and tangy, each complement certain wines better than others. The turkey in a gravy sauce would be great with an oaked Chardonnay or Pinot Noir, and the Turkey with sweet and tangy cranberry sauce would be great with an off-dry Riesling or California Zinfandel. Try the Chardonnay with the sweet cranberry sauce and your Chardonnay may taste bitter and sour, tastes you’d rather not experience with that fine bottle of Grand Cru Chardonnay. Now try the off-dry Riesling with the same sweet and tangy cranberry sauce drizzled over a slice of turkey and voila, a perfect pairing! As they say, the sauce is the secret handshake to the leftover turkey club. Same can be said for the wine club!
Thanksgiving meals get me thinking about turkey, pork, lamb, and occasionally salmon as the main dishes, however, these days there are so many ‘traditional’ meals meaning you can do whatever you’d like!
Here are some great dishes that I’d recommend enjoying this Thanksgiving, but before we get into the meals, why not try this Thanksgiving Champagne Cocktail:
Kick-off your Thanksgiving party with some Apple Cider Mimosas with a splash of Bourbon, and save a little for your apple pie pairing too!
Butternut Squash Soup with Crisp Pancetta – the crisp pancetta adds lovely savory complexity and crunchy texture to this autumn soup. Enjoy with off-dry Riesling, Zinfandel, or Fino Sherry.
Creamy Roasted Mushroom and Brie Soup – ideal with a creamy Chardonnay or try a contrasting wine and opt for a dry Riesling.
Fall Cheese Platter – makes a great starter while that Turkey is cooking or if you’re not interested in a big Turkey dinner (and the 10 pots and pans that need to be washed after), opt for this convenient and uber complex meal instead! Pair with Rosé, off-dry Riesling, Fino Sherry, or sweet LBV Port.
Vegan Pot Pie – wrap-up the autumn harvest in some pastry and enjoy this dish with Chardonnay or Pinot Noir.
Bordeaux Style Roasted Leg of Lamb – ideal with Rosewood Estates Winery Cabernet Franc
Leftover Turkey, perfect!
Consider this mouthwatering salad using leftover turkey. Feel free to add cranberries, walnuts and green apples along with any other exotic fruits that comes to your mind. Pair with a Riesling, or a New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc.
So, while you’re out at your local farmer’s market picking up their fresh autumn harvest for your Thanksgiving meal, think about which wines you’re going to pair with your dishes and remember that pairing a wine with a sauce (cranberry, gravy, etc.) is one of the best ways to ensure perfect pairings each and every time.
Here are a few great Thanksgiving dinner wine choices for you to enjoy this Thanksgiving weekend:
1. Michelle Brut, Traditional Method Sparkling Wine, Washington, USA, $16.85 (great with hors d’oeuvres, Turkey, or Cider Mimosas and apple pie!)
Michelle Brut is a traditional (aka Champagne) method sparkling wine from Washington State. At under $17 it offers impressive value. Beautiful aromas of crisp yellow apple, baked goodies (imagine Fig Newtons) and homemade bread. The palate is dry but nowhere bitter, showing more delicious fig pastries, apple, and biscuit. What a smart buy for a traditional method sparkling. Ideal with hors d’oeuvres, Thanksgiving meals, as a base for Champagne Cocktails, and at this price point a great candidate for your house bubbly to have on-hand, chilled, for those impromptu occasions that command sparkling wine. Tasted September 2015. 89+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
2. Red Tractor Riesling – Twenty Mile Bench (Niagara) – $16.95
Red Tractor Riesling from the Fox Croft Vineyard on Twenty Mile Bench in Niagara, shows crisp and sweet apple, petrol, all wrapped up with vibrant flinty minerality. Crisp and refreshing, a great wine to enjoy with seared scallops alongside rich and creamy risotto, or try creamy roasted mushroom and brie soup. Tasted October 2015. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
3. Inniskillin Late Autumn Riesling – Niagara – $11.95 (until Oct 11 at LCBO)
Inniskillin, Canada’s original estate winery, has been producing terrific Canadian wines for over 35 years, and their Late Autumn Riesling is a fan favourite for it’s off-dry style that complements slightly sweet dishes or meals with a touch of spice. Sweet orchard fruit and floral blossoms on the nose and palate, it’s slightly sweet with good acidity keeping it refreshing. Try this autumn with butternut squash soup with crisp pancetta. Tasted October 2015. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca
4. Kim Crawford Unoaked Chardonnay 2014 – New Zealand – $19.95
Kim Crawford is internationally renowned for their value priced Sauvignon Blanc, and their unoaked Chardonnay has become another fan favourite with its clean and refreshing style, showcasing the pure Marlborough and Hawkes Bay fruit and vibrant acidity that the world has come to love. This east coast blend is creamy with a refreshing long finish. Ideal served with BBQ lemon chicken, turkey dinners, salmon with dill, or simply enjoy on its own. Next time you buy a Kim Crawford Sauvignon Blanc try one of these too. You’ll be happy you did. Tasted October 2015. 88+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
5. Painted Rock Rosé 2014 – British Columbia – $25 (one of Canada’s top iconic wine producing wineries)
Following their successful inaugural rosé in 2013, Painted Rock’s follow-up from the terrific 2014 vintage is another work of art. A blend of 39% Merlot, 29% Cab Franc, 23% Malbec, and 9% Petit Verdot, this Bordeaux blend shows all the hallmarks of a fresh and well structured rosé. Layers of sweet field berries, candied orange, peach, nectarine, with floral and herbal notes, the layers of flavours are balanced with refreshing acidity. The palate is soft, gentle, layered with complex fruit and herbal notes. One of the finest rosés I’ve tasted in the Okanagan. Incredible alongside charcuterie or autumn harvest meals. Serve slightly chilled. Tasted September 2015. 92 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Painted Rock Rosé paired with Antipasto Platter
6. Rosewood Estate Winery Pinot Noir – $21.95 – Niagara Escarpment
The 2012 Select Series Pinot noir is an appealing combination of ripe berry fruits and cellar and vineyard derived characters. The berry fruit aromas and flavours are typical for Pinot Noir, and include ripe raspberry, black cherry and strawberry. The clay and limestone soil in the vineyard has imparted an earthy dimension to the wine, showing through as freshly turned soil and dried leaves. The wine has also developed sweet spice notes from its time in French Oak barriques. This is a well-rounded Pinot Noir that candidly shows both its terroir and winemaking influences in the glass. Enjoy with roasted turkey, duck confit, or dates stuffed with smoked brie and wrapped in double smoked bacon.
7. Meiomi Pinot Noir – California – $26.95
Meiomi’s 2014 Pinot Noir is a blend of Pinot Noir from three beautiful wine regions along the California coast: Monterey County (48%), Sonoma County (27%), and Sanata Barbara County (25%). Each lot was individually fermented and aged in 100% French oak, 60% new, to add additional texture whilst preserving the elegant and complex fruit characteristics. Blended to achieve the greatest complexity, the result is a very expressive, dry, and flavourful medium-full bodied Pinot Noir. The nose shows dried cranberry, black cherry, cedar, and a slight earthiness. The palate is loaded with sweet dark fruit, black cherry, dried cranberry, mocha, baking spices, and kirsch. Big and bold, this creamy-smooth Pinot is the finest vintage of Meiomi I recall tasting. They’ve struck a beautiful balance in this vintage. Very impressed. Enjoy with braised lamb, roasted pork with fruit chutney, or one of my favourites – Thanksgiving Turkey dinner with sweet cranberry sauce. Tasted September 2015. 91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
8. Rosewood Origin Series Cabernet Franc 2013 – $25.95 – Niagara Escarpment
Rosewood’s 2013 Cabernet Franc is medium ruby red in colour, the nose shows expressive bouquets of dark and red cherries, plum, cassis, mocha, cedar, and fresh herbs. Medium bodied, the palate is luscious, rich and round texture, with layers of dark berries, sweet stewed fruits, vanilla, kirsch, leading to a long dark cherry finish. Wow! So smooth! A very elegant and well balanced Cabernet Franc that’s ready to be enjoyed now with roasted lamb dishes, or cellar for a few years and enjoy as the sweet fruit evolves and gains further complexity. Certain to please a crowd and destined to win some awards once it’s released in fall 2015. At under $26 it offers terrific value. Only 686 cases made. Tasted September 2015. 91+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
In addition to those tasty wines noted above, Canadian craft beer is an excellent choice this time of year. Virtually every craft brewery makes special seasonal autumn brews, whether it contain pumpkin or not, they’re all designed to complement the season and are certainly worth trying out.
Here’s one to try next time you pass a Clocktower:
The Clocktower Brew Pub in Ottawa, ON produces a Pumpkin Ale each year that’s always well received.
The Clocktower’s Harvest Pumpkin Ale
The Clocktower’s The Pumpkin – a great seasonal brew to check out before it’s gone!