Every Thanksgiving, I promise myself that the wine-pairing column I always seem to end up writing will be my last. That I’m just not going to do it anymore. That I’m just not going to contribute to something I dislike so much about wine writing today.
But here I am. Writing about Thanksgiving wine. I’m a little less angst-ridden about it this year, though.
Don’t get me wrong. There is still way too much wine writing that focuses on food pairings. There are pairing stories for most every holiday now. I even saw some nonsense about Halloween candy pairings this year.
If you are stuffing that third (or fourth) peanut butter cup into your mouth and worrying about what wine you should be drinking as you do, you have problems that I’m not qualified to help you solve.
I still think that the piece I wrote last year for northforker is the last Thanksgiving story you’ll ever need to read, but this year, I’m simply going to tell you about the wines I’ll be drinking with my friends and family. You shouldn’t drink what I’m drinking though — even though you’ll drink really really well if you do. Drink wines that you like.
I love Thanksgiving. With its focus on food, wine, friends and family, it’s my favorite holiday. As such, I tend to collect wines throughout the year with our traditional turkey dinner in mind, and as you can see, there will be a diverse array of wines on offer. That certainly flies in the face of the “perfect Thanksgiving wine” nonsense you’ll read about it many other publications, doesn’t it?
Sparkling wine with food? I know — not creative or innovative in the least. But it’s a thing for a reason. It’s delicious. I’m no hipster, but I look like one with four pet nats lined up. this week.
Two of the wines, Fossil & Till 2015 Riesling Petilent Naturel and Barry Family Cellars 2015 Pet Gnat are made by the same winemaker — Ian Barry. You’ve read about him plenty here and you’ll continue to read even more. Now that he has his own label, he’s really hitting his stride in the most delicious of ways.
The other two bottles are ones that I had to hide from myself after TasteCamp 2016: Vermont. I don’t think that the Fable Farm Fermentory ciders make their way outside of Vermont — a real shame considering that they stand out in a state with a lot of great ciders. Fable Farm Fermentory 2014 Greensboro is made from wild foraged apples grown in, you guessed it, Greensboro, VT. Bottled in the pet nat style, it’s dry and complex. Made with frontenac gris, la garagista 2015 Ci Confonde Pétillant Naturel Rosé was one of the stars of TasteCamp. I bought a few bottles and this one (my last) survived just long enough to wash down turkey and stuffing.
With apologies to everyone who was looking forward to my 2015 East Coast rose report — it didn’t happen. I tasted more than two dozen roses from New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Michigan — but guess what? A lot of them weren’t very good. Most of them were mediocre, right in the meaty part of the bell curve. That, coupled weith my self-imposed blogging hiatus, meant that the report was never published. That doesn’t mean I didn’t find some great rose — and these were two of the best.
That doesn’t mean I didn’t find some great rose — and these were two of the best.
I like herb-tinged rose with food and Kelby James Russell 2015 Dry Rose, made with 100% cabernet franc by Red Newt Cellars winemaker Kelby Russell hits all the right notes. Love stuffing? This is your wine. My favorite of all the roses I tasted was Stinson Vineyards 2015 Rose. Made with mouvedre, it’s wonderfully savory and flavorful in a way very few American roses are. I don’t think there are that many roses worth chasing down before they sell out each year, but this is one of them.
Riesling is my go-to Thanksgiving wine every year, so of course there will be some on our table. Ravines Wine Cellars makes the best bone-dry riesling in the Finger Lakes and Hermann J. Wiemer’s Magdalena Vineyard is one of the truly special vineyards in the region. Quite different wines, but both expressive and of great pedigree.
Macari Vineyards 2016 “Early Wine” Chardonnay is another Thanksgiving staple in my house. Just released, it has the crackling acidity that I crave with so many foods. Plus, it’s a true celebration of the harvest. Who needs Beaujolais Nouveau?
And here we have the reds, all beautifully textured and bright.
Southold Farm + Cellars 2015 “I Want to Be Stereotyped” is a punchy, carbonic cabernet franc that — again — I had to hide from myself or there was no way it was making it to Thanksgiving. Red Hook Winery 2014 “Macari Vineyards” Cabernet Franc is the newest find on the list, but it’s a wine that I fell for — hard — when I tasted it a few months ago. Lighter in body. it has lovely floral and faint herbal notes. Delicate and fresh, it’s fruity but not jammy with nice savory notes around the edges. Just want I want with turkey.