October 4, 2017
Theme: Best Wines to Pair with Turkey
Overview: Wondering which wine to serve with your Turkey dinner this Thanksgiving long weekend? Today on CTV, CTVs Lianne Laing and Sommelier Matt Steeves offered up some tasty options that are sure to complement your special Thanksgiving dinner! Check out the CTV video here!
When it comes to Thanksgiving dinners, there are so many options of what to serve on that heaping plate it can make wine pairing a bit of a nightmare…but no need to worry as we’ve got some great options here that will please all palates and are guaranteed to complement that delicious Thanksgiving meal.
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).
Between the Turkey, gravy, cranberry sauce, Brussel sprouts, beans, squash, pickles, etc., there are a lot of different flavours on that heaping plate which makes it tough to pick a single wine to pair with that special meal you’ve worked so hard on preparing.
Adding various vegetables, and how you cook them, and what sauce or spices you use impacts the flavour profile meaning the dish may taste better with certain wines than others. This doesn’t mean you can’t drink certain wines with any food, as you totally can, but some wines are naturally better with certain foods while others can clash. Champagne and Caviar are beautiful together, Zinfandel and BBQ fare is the ultimate American pairing, whereas grilled steaks are dynamite with big red wines like Cabernet Sauvignon. Seafood and Chardonnay work great together, just as Sauvignon Blanc and summer salads with goat cheese do. But what happens if you want to drink a Chardonnay with a steak, or have fish with a red wine….well no problem, if you are mindful of one basic tip…
Pair wine with the sauce not the protein!
Case in point is the difference between turkey with a rich gravy or turkey with sweet and tangy cranberry sauce; the Turkey is the same in both dishes but the different sauces, one creamy rich and heavy, one sweet and tangy, each complement certain wines better than others. The turkey in a gravy sauce would be great with an oaked Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, or Gamay, 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 slightly bitter or sour, a taste you’d rather not experience with that fine bottle of Niagara Chardonnay.
Now try that bottle of premium Ontario (off-dry) Riesling with a dollop of that same sweet and tangy cranberry sauce on a slice of turkey and voila, a perfect pairing!
Let’s take this one step further though…there are ways to help ensure your wine, regardless of what wine you choose, will pair well with your food.
A brilliant tip I learned recently from a Master of Wine in Napa Valley was to add a bit of lime juice and salt to any dish and it will make your wine complement the food just fine, no matter what you’re drinking. A good example of this was when I tasted a big tannic red wine with a very sweet and savoury steamed fish at a sushi restaurant, and the red wine and the fish were great together, well great after we added a splash of lime juice and pinch of sea salt on the fish that is. It’s quite remarkable actually how that one tip can make any wine complement practically any dish. If you’d like to try this experiment on your own this weekend, why not try it this Thanksgiving and see for yourself that it really works! All you need is a fresh lime and some sea salt and put a bit of that on your food then try the wine and you’ll see that the delicious characteristics of the wine are preserved, no matter what the food is you’re enjoying. Not something I’d aim to do with every meal but certainly a great way to ensure you enjoy that special bottle of wine if the dish doesn’t naturally complement it.
In any event, the wines I chose today are great options for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner as I find they naturally complement the majority of flavours in a traditional (roasted turkey, potatoes, root vegetables, squash, stuffing, gravy, cranberry sauce…) turkey dinner.
Here are my top picks for enjoying with your Thanksgiving dinner this weekend, and throughout the fall.
- Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio – Italy – $15.95
- Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio – Italy – $13.75
- 13th Street Riesling June’s Vineyard – Niagara, ON – $19.95
- Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc – Napa Valley, California – $22.95
- Burrowing Owl Chardonnay – Okanagan Valley, BC – $33.95
- Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir – Okanagan Valley, BC – $41.95
- 13th Street Burger Blend – Niagara, ON – $14.95
- CheckMate Black Rook Merlot – Okanagan Valley, BC – $85
- Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel – California – $18.95
- Santa Margherita Ripasso – Valpolicella, Italy – $24.95
Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio – Italy – $15.95
The family-owned Castelfeder was founded in 1970 by Alfons Giovanett. It is now under the stewardship of the fourth generation. ‘Luna Nuda,’ or ‘Naked Moon,’ describes a bright full moon shining in a clear night sky over the vineyards, a sight considered both beautiful and inspirational – just how the Giovanett family wishes you to think of its wines. The Luna Nuda Pinot Grigio will be delicately aromatic, with apple, citrus and white flowers. Enjoy with lemon-dressed baked fish. Released September 30th at Vintages.
Ruffino Lumina Pinot Grigio – Italy – $13.75
Ruffino’s Lumina Pinot Grigio is a crowd pleasing fresh and fruity unoaked wine that’s perfectly suited for enjoying on a patio in the sun, or throughout the year with lighter fare such as appetizers, roasted poultry, or seared fish. From northeastern Italy, where the finest Pinot Grigio’s are born, Lumina’s light and crisp style is sure to please. The nose shows sweet orchard fruit, citrus, lemon meringue, and a hint of minerality. The palate is refreshing with sweet pear, yellow apple, and honeysuckle leaving a crisp and clean finish. Great value at under $14 via LCBO. Tasted September 2017. 88 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
13th Street Riesling June’s Vineyard – Niagara, ON – $19.95
13th Street Winery’s June’s Vineyard Riesling, made from Alsatian old Clone 49 Riesling, shows a remarkably delicate yet complex nose of fresh stone fruit, floral blossom, sweet bees wax, petrol, and crisp limestone minerality. The palate is rather dry with a slight sweetness showing up on the mid palate, with a long spicy stone fruit and mineral finish. Very versatile, this beautiful Ontario Riesling is a fantastic choice for just about anything you can imagine from appetizers, Pad Thai, Thanksgiving meals, or creamy cheeses – each delicious with this value-priced wine. Tasted September 2017. 90-91 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Robert Mondavi Fumé Blanc – Napa Valley, California – $22.95
Fumé Blanc is a wine I reach for more and more when transitioning from summer to fall and Robert Mondavi produces some of the finest available. In fact it was Robert Mondavi that pioneered this wine style in Napa Valley in the 1960s, when he named his barrel-aged Sauvignon Blanc ‘Fumé Blanc’. The 2014 is a blend of 94% Sauvignon Blanc and 6% Sémillon, sourced from the world-famous Napa Valley. Hand harvested, whole cluster pressed, with the majority barrel fermented and then aged for nine months sûr lie to impart a subtle richness and mid-palate mouthfeel that complements and adds further complexity to the inherently fresh and crisp nature of the Sauvignon Blanc. The nose shows lemon-lime, white peach, green melon, gooseberry, sweet herbs, and flinty minerality. The palate offers refreshing citrus and tropical fruits, with lemon grass and crisp minerality on the long finish. Enjoy with Tex-Mex cuisine, creamy lemon-shrimp pasta, or spicy Asian dishes. Tasted September 2017. 90 points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca
Burrowing Owl Chardonnay – Okanagan Valley, BC – $33.95
This beautiful Okanagan Chardonnay, from Canada’s Wine Capital, is a terrific example of the world-class wines Burrowing Owl is producing from their picturesque winery located along the Black Sage Road in Oliver, BC. The grapes are grown in their estate vineyards immediately adjacent to their beautiful winery and the award winning Sonora Room Restaurant, which by the way is a fantastic place to enjoy this wine along with older vintages from their onsite library. Their 2015 Chardonnay is a beautiful golden yellow with a faint green hue. The nose shows crisp yellow apple, butterscotch, hazelnut and citrus notes. Creamy and medium-full bodied with a refreshing lightness, thanks to the equal use of steel and oak during the fermentation of the perfect 2015 vintage fruit. The palate offers more crisp orchard fruit with a touch of sweet tropical fruit on the finish. At 14% ABV this Chardonnay is remarkably well balanced and quite simply stunning! Enjoy with grilled seafood, roasted poultry, or Autumn soups. A perfect wine for any Thanksgiving celebration. Tasted May 2017 at the winery. 92+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Checkout the Sonora Room Restaurant @ https://www.burrowingowlwine.ca/the-restaurant/the-sonora-room/
Burrowing Owl Pinot Noir – Okanagan Valley, BC – $41.95
This beautiful Okanagan Pinot, from Canada’s Wine Capital, is a terrific example of the world-class wines Burrowing Owl is producing from their picturesque winery located along the Black Sage Road in Oliver, BC. Their 2015 Pinot shows a medium ruby red colour with a garnet hue. Very complex, the nose and palate offer dried cherry and blueberry, black sage, cedar, clove, with a hint of cacao and violet. The palate is fresh and layered, with perfectly integrated fruit, acid, and faint tannins. This is a robust yet very elegant Pinot that will complement a wide range of dishes from creamy mushroom risotto, Waygu beef, to roasted quail with fois gras. You can’t go wrong pairing a fine meal with this versatile and delicious wine. Tasted September 2017. 92+ points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca
13th Street Burger Blend – Niagara, ON – $14.95
A blend of 70% Gamay Noir, 29% Pinot Noir, and 1% Merlot from the Niagara Peninsula, Burger Blend is becoming renowned for its food friendly and refreshing style that makes it ideally suited for enjoying with your favourite grilled grub. Inviting aromas and flavours of dark cherry, plum, raspberry, vanilla, cedar, herbs, and spice make this a very popular wine for hosting any summer gathering. The finest vintage of Burger Blend I recall tasting, this youthful wine is absolute dynamite when served slightly chilled with BBQ burgers, brisket, or tangy grilled chicken. Equally enjoyable throughout the fall with Autumn harvest meals, Thanksgiving turkey or ham, served at 18C for an easy-going red wine to complement those large family meals. Tasted September 2017. 89 points. Matt Steeves – www.quercusvino.ca
CheckMate Black Rook Merlot – Okanagan Valley, BC – $85
CheckMate Artisanal Winery produces some of the finest Chardonnay and Merlot in the world from their Golden Mile Bench winery situated in Canada’s wine capital, Oliver, BC. The 2013 Black Rook Merlot is an outstanding expression of ultra premium Okanagan Merlot. Sourced from the Black Sage Bench, Black Rook is a deep ruby colour, the nose is so rich with bramble berry pie notes making the first impression followed by mocha, raspberry, anise, cedar, and a touch of menthol. The aromatic profile seems to combine the finest elements of Napa, Barossa, and Valpolicella, but proudly 100% Okanagan. The palate is remarkably plush whilst also being very refreshing and textured, with layers of delicious dark fruits and sweet spices, all elegantly balanced in this deeply concentrated and robust yet very harmonious wine. It weights in at 14.4% and thanks to its beautifully balanced structure it’s as smooth as silk making it a great wine to enjoy now. Perfectly integrated tannins magically appear on the refreshing finish reminding you just how elegantly structured this magnificent wine is. One of the finest single varietal Merlot wines I’ve tasted. Although drinking beautifully now, this will be absolutely stunning over the next 10+ years as the rich fruit characteristics evolve. Only 9 barrels produced. Enjoy 2017-2030. Tasted bottle 2598 in September 2017. 95 points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Ravenswood Old Vine Zinfandel – California – $18.95
There’s no wonder why this Zinfandel is the No. 1 around the world! From the inaugural vintage back in the early 1980s to today, iconic Zin producer, known as the Godfather of Zin, Joel Peterson, has been crafting this uber popular Zin for a few decades now and it continues to grow in popularity given its ripe and robust style. Ravenswood doesn’t produce ‘wimpy’ wines and this wine is proof of that! Enjoy with BBQ fare, pasta dishes, spicy Asian cuisine, or Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce. Highly recommended all year round. 89+ points. Matt Steeves – http://www.quercusvino.ca
Santa Margherita Ripasso – Valpolicella, Italy – $24.95
Santa Margherita has jumped into the world of Valpolicella with their inaugural vintage (2014) Ripasso and did they ever succeed! A blend of 40% Corvina, 40% Corvinone, and 20% Rondinella, the wine was re-passed over the pomace of their not-yet released Amarone and allowed to ferment once again for two weeks before it was barrel aged for nine months prior to bottling. Dry with a great blend of savoury and fruity notes, the dried dark fruits, plum, and baking spices greet the the nose and palate. Very well balanced with fresh acidity and texture making it ideal with rich risotto and pasta dishes, braised veal shank, and aged firm cheese. Also great when enjoyed with dark chocolate after a rich meal. Score – 90. (Matt Steeves, quercusvino.ca, Feb. 2017)
Matt Steeves – Sommelier, Wine Writer, & Director with the National Capital Sommelier Guild – follow Matt on Twitter @Quercusvino or www.quercusvino.ca
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