The Wine Whisperer: By Lorn Razzano
Every time I write about selections for Thanksgiving dinner, the possibilities seem to whirl around my head in an endless procession of great choices.
There are the classic choices in the white wine offerings, including the great Rieslings as well as the dry Gewerztraminers. We also have the big and full Chardonnays, as well as the crispy Pinot Gris. Let's explore these white wine choices destined for Thanksgiving tables all over America.
One of the ideas to remember about white wines in particular is the sweetness level each presents in the glass. Those white wines reaching an alcohol level at or over 12 percent we will presume to be dry unless the label indicates "late harvest." (A late harvest wine is a wine that was made from grapes picked later than the "normal" harvest, with sugars balanced for a sweeter wine — in effect, a more impacted grape with less water and more concentration of sugars.) Late harvest wines may sit between 12 percent and 14 percent alcohol, but because of the lateness of the harvest, the sugars are also high.
Let's look at some of the greater dry white wines for Turkey day.
Chardonnay: Probably one of the all-time favorites for Thanksgiving. This white wine is made for heavy gravy from poultry, as well as the starch of stuffing and potato. Nothing beats Chardonnay with heavy fare, as the grape can be done with oak, which handles richness in cuisine well. Chardonnay can also cut through spices and cleanse the palate like no other white wine if one finds the crisper style.
My choice is the very complex and beautifully balanced Talmard Macon to be the ticket. Sitting under 15 bucks per bottle, this wine is quite a charmer and lingers on the palate with grace and lovely, long hints of lemon. This might be my best choice in Chardonnay for the season. If you like them with more butter, try the Gordon Brothers Chardonnay from Washington at about the same price.
Pinot Gris-Grigio: By either name the Gris wines are wonderful wines for all-around clean and vibrant tastes.
We have a wonderful selection of Pinot Gris from Oregon, such as the superb Stangland Pinot Gris from the Willamette Valley. This wine shows fresh lemon-lime flavors and a mineral backbone with a very concentrated fruit on the nose resembling pear and grapefruit.
We also have the yummy Italian Pinot Grigio, which are similar to our Oregon wines but might have, in an overall sense, a bit more acidity than their Oregon cousins.
There are many very good to excellent Gris/Grigio on the world market today. Remember to pick the wine over 11.5 percent alcohol or you might find a Gris with a bit of sugar. There are those who like some sugar in Gris, but I find it distracting and cloying.
Gewerztraminer: Here is a grape, native of France, which can go either way. There are sweeter Gewerztraminer, as well as Gewrztraminer that are bone dry. There are many Gewerztraminer with a hint of sugar, which are quite good with spiced offerings for Thanksgiving, including cranberry sauce or ginger-laced foods.
I love the dry Lucien Albrecht Gewerztraminers. These are very bright, clean wines from France and have a charm of lovely Asian spice in the nose, as well as in the finish. One can get a hint of cinnamon in the glass, as well as nutmeg. This is a marvelous offering.
Many Gewerztraminers made in California will be on the sweeter side. Again, if you want them sweet, go under 11 percent alcohol and you will find many offerings.
Riesling: I am a sucker for the German Rieslings and I know I am not alone! Arguably, the Germans still make the best of this beautifully scented white wine.
I am charmed by the Rieslings from Germany. Here you will find lovely sugar and acid balances, bouquets filled with pear, apricot and pineapple nuance and a thirst-quenching finish that no other country can compete with. Try either the sweeter versions under 11 percent or the Trocken (dry), over the 12 percent alcohol level. Either are yummy!
Well, there you have them. See you next week!