The holidays are here! And this months’ blog is all about Thanksgiving. Yum!
While it has been called into question whether or not Turkey was actually a component of the first Thanksgiving, they most certainly had wine. Most likely a concoction fermented from fruit other than grapes (apples were popular) or bottles they’d brought with them from Europe. I’m sure the sea air did wonders for the bouquet.
We’ve come a long way since then and the best wine to serve with your turkey dinner is a hot topic every year.
Thanksgiving presents an interesting challenge because there are so many conflicting flavors of sweet and savory in the traditional dishes served at the meal. Sweet potatoes for example are naturally sweet, but still have those classic root-vegetable undertones; they can be made sweeter if baked with marshmallows, or more savory if put with herbs and spices. So what wine can satisfy both distinct flavor profiles? While whites such as Riesling or Pinot Gris usually emerge as top choices, there has been a lot of exploration into breaking this mold in recent years. Pinot Noir is a strong contender. As a lighter red on the spectrum, Pinot will compliment the whole meal, with its pepper and cherry tones. I happen to think that something like a Syrah-heavy GSM (Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre) blend, with its tones of cinnamon, nutmeg, as well as subtle herbal hints of sage and rosemary, compliment those same flavors in a Thanksgiving meal beautifully. The choice is up to you! Let us know what you like to pair with Thanksgiving food—did you go adventurous this year, or keep it traditional? We’d love to know!
Varietal of the Month: Chardonnay
While Chardonnay is usually not the most ideal pairing for Thanksgiving, it’s a fantastic white for fall dishes, being that it’s quite a bit heavier than most other whites. As our winemaker recently stated in an article “Chardonnay is a white variety that wants to be red.”
Chardonnay is a varietal that has gone through many stages of popularity, especially in California. People tend to either love it or hate it, and usually have strong opinions about what a Chardonnay is or should be. It is a grape that tests a winemaker’s skill and finesse to bring out its subtleties, crafting a release that is both surprising yet still holds onto the traditional Chardonnay characteristics people have come to expect. This is made even more challenging by the fact that, like Cabernet, Chardonnay can grow pretty much anywhere and is not all that susceptible to diseases. Thus it is well known and extremely popular so the challenge becomes making a Chardonnay that stands out from the crowd.
Ask anyone even remotely familiar with wine about this particular varietal, and the descriptor “buttery” is sure to come up. This is usually the defining difference between traditional Chardonnays and newer interpretations. If done well, the buttery-ness of Chardonnay lends itself to a smooth, flavorful, full bodied wine. And while it is the prominent feature, there is still room for other characteristics to show through. If not done well, you end up with, well, butter. Full bodied perhaps, but not offering much depth.
Chardonnay is one of the only white wine grapes typically aged in oak. Its qualities are such that it does not need to be treated in quite so fragile a manner as other white varietals. Of course the wine industry is nothing without experimentation, so it is not unheard of for Chardonnay to be aged in stainless steel, a practice that has become a trend in recent years. This usually leads to a less buttery, lighter style of Chardonnay. The fact that this varietal has so much diversity lends to its continued popularity.
We love our oysters here in California, and Chardonnay is a very popular pairing option, adding to the oysters own buttery taste and texture creating an incredibly rich flavor. Come out to B.R. Cohn to enjoy oysters, chardonnay and music every Sunday through the end of November! Our Sangiacomo Chardonnay is excellent with oysters, beautifully crafted and full-bodied with nice complexity. We hope you enjoy it as much as we do!