Wine of the Week
Wine shops experience almost half of their annual sales from Thanksgiving through New Year's Day. That means you are going to see more stock on the shelves and more attempts to get you in the store by offering sales. We're aiming at hitting the wine trifecta: sales in the stores, obscure wines that should still be easy to find, and great values.
The only wine that goes with every single Thanksgiving dish is champagne. Lucky for us, it's such good wine. The real stuff, from the Champagne province of France, is expensive, but, come on: It's the holidays. Always wish you could try the really expensive stuff like Dom Pérignon ($150) or Cristal ($290)? They're a little expensive for a family party. Still expensive albeit at $40 but, in my opinion, better than either, is Bollinger Special Cuvée, a rich wine made mostly from pinot noir. The toasty, yeasty aromas will marry nicely with turkey and dressing. Moving down the price schedule, Schramsberg's Blanc de Blancs ($26) is made solely with chardonnay, and its tiny bubbles are great palate-cleansers. Gruet's Blanc de Noirs ($13) is also underpriced for the quality, as is Korbel Brut ($9).
There are two red wines that will match up with most of the meal. First, and least expensive, is Beaujolais. This French wine is made from the gamay grape, and if all you've ever had is the plonk that passes for wine each November, called Beaujolais nouveau, then you are in for a treat. One of the easier brands to find is Joseph Drouhin, and what you want to look for is Beaujolais with a name of a place on the bottle: Brouilly ($15), Morgon ($12), and Moulin-à-Vent ($18) are all available in the superior 2005 vintage. These wines are ideal Thanksgiving wines because, not only are they full of ripe fruit flavors, they should be drunk just slightly chilled, so you get a refreshing drink.
Zinfandel is the other red wine for Thanksgiving: again, with a big fruity flavor. California Zins have come with very high alcohol levels over the last few years, and the prices have been on the rise, too. Still, there are some bargains to be had. Two of the best I've tasted in recent months have been the Eberle Steinbeck Vineyard (you'll probably have to order it; expect to pay about $18) and the Rodney Strong Knotty Vines Zinfandel ($19). Both are rich, plush, and full of fun.