I’ve enjoyed quite a few Thanksgiving feasts and completely appreciate that this is one holiday where tradition rings true. It’s easy to put on that “Thanksgiving Thirteen” over an extended four-day, gluttonous weekend of white turkey meat, brown turkey meat, gravy, sweet potato casserole, oyster stuffing, homemade buttery bread, tasty cranberry sauce, garlic mashed potatoes, pecan pie, chess pie, pumpkin pie, apple pie and, of course, the long string of leftovers and sandwiches.
The one trap in all of this tradition and “deadly sin” exercise is falling prey to the wine ideologues. These are the ones with the all-too-repetitive suggestion that one should drink boring French Beaujolais Nouveau for another Thanksgiving holiday just because Lafayette happened to show up at the American Revolution. Instead, do as Clark Griswold did in the movie “Christmas Vacation” when the squirrel attacked inside his home. After telling his son, Russ, to get a hammer, Clark’s wife questioned what the hammer was for. “I’m gonna catch it in the coat, and smack it with the hammer.” This year do the same with Nouveau – before it ruins another holiday.
Some may ask: Why not Nouveau? Simply put, there are a lot of flavors going on in a traditional Thanksgiving dinner: the many fruits like cranberry and pumpkin; the sage in the stuffing; the savory and saltiness in the gravy. So, if a traditional Thanksgiving feast is on tap this Thursday, then don’t be fooled by the lure of a bright and colorful label of houses or flowers that looks more like an Easter appropriate watercolor than a fall harvest wine. Instead, go with something that can not only complement those flavors but also offer up some style. No one wants that turkey to split open and ruin the night like it did at the Griswold family Christmas dinner. And no one wants to smile and pretend that Nouveau tastes good with anything other than fruitcake.
My border collie, Layla, reminded me the other day that the dog days of summer are here. She laid out back under her favorite shade tree for about 30 minutes. Then politely, Layla camped just outside the back door in anticipation of re-entering the air-conditioned Mecca that is her house. I don’t blame her. With these hot, summer days, I’m also always looking for something cool and refreshing. Luck has it for me; there are plenty of faithful old white wines to do the trick and a few new whippersnappers as well.
n 2007 Kung Fu Girl Riesling ($11.55)
After visiting quite a few local restaurants with some hot and spicy food on the menu, I discovered there was a new wine in town that all the restaurants were promoting and that “everyone was Kung Fu Fighting” over. The 2007 Kung Fu Girl Riesling is a new creation from Washington State. It’s a semi-sweet Riesling with a honeysuckle bouquet, a touch of viscosity and a host of apple and pear flavors. Kung Fu Girl matches well with spicy Pan-Asian fare and an array of other hot-tongued dishes. The label may be “a little bit frightening,” but the truth is it’s so good that you’ll guzzle down this little bottle as “fast as lightening.”
n 2007 Hugues Beaulieu Picpoul ($9.55)
One of my go-to, old faithful companions is the Hugues Beaulieu Picpoul. From the Languedoc, this French value is soft and simple with sleek mineral notes. It’s been a tried-and-true value in the market for some years now and consistently impresses consumers both in price point and quality. Imported by Kysela Pere et Fils, the 2007 Hugues Beaulieu Picpoul is a spot on match for a bowlful of fresh shellfish and a sky full of hot sunshine. Just ask for picpoul.
Wine consumers and aficionados alike are left with one burning question at the end of December: What should I celebrate the new year with? Most likely, wine drinkers turn to their familiar standbys, and there is nothing wrong with that. However, if you’re looking for something that’s just as good but perhaps a little different, you’ll be excited to know that there is sparkling French wine that goes beyond Champagne and sparkling Italian wine that goes beyond Spumante.
This New Year’s Eve or anytime this month is an ideal moment to sample some new sparkling wines. The following selections are from Germany, France and Italy.
- Hansen Lauer Brut Riesling 2007 (Germany)
The 2007 Hansen-Lauer Brut Riesling is a unique bubbly that has similarities to both French Champagne and Italian Prosecco. The aromas display fine notes of wheat and crisp breadiness, which Champagne often demonstrates, while the flavors have enjoyable fruit notes of peach, lemon zest and grapefruit, that are typical for most Prosecco.
Made from 100% Riesling, this Brut bubbly is a solid performer whose light yeasty bouquet also intermingles with a powdery aroma of fresh cotton. It’s great for first time sparkling wine drinkers who want something refreshing as well as experienced admirers of bubbly who want something unique.