Rules + Guzzle-Worthy Recommendations - THANKSGIVING 2017

Several years ago I posted my first 'Thanksgiving Wine Public Service Announcement'. Friends and followers alike seemed to appreciate the practical recommendations and general approach. I decided to do a repost but modify it a bit. I've included some of my original "rules" for drinking wine with Thanksgiving but I've tweaked them a bit and also included some more detailed bottle-specific recommendations for each course.

So here it is, my guide to pairing wine with Thanksgiving festivities. I'm generally not a fan of "rules" for drinking wine but I will say... if you follow all of these, you are guaranteed to have a revelatory wine and food paring on the greatest food holiday in America.

1) First and foremost, drink wine that you like (duh) but buy a variety of different bottles and include something you've never heard of in the mix

2) WINE IS FOOD TOO. Look for sustainably-grown certifications like organic and biodynamic and support small wineries and independent wine shops. 

3) Focus on lower alcohol wines under 14.5% but more in the 12.5-13.5% range

4) Best varietals
Red: pinot noir, gamay, cab franc, zinfandel, barbera, corvina (!), nerello mascalese
White: chardonnay, riesling (dry or off-dry), pinot blanc, viognier, chenin blanc

Recommendations: ANY Oregon pinot noir, Scaia corvina, Clos de la Roilette Fleurie, Willakenzie Pinot Blanc, Bedrock Wine. Co. Old Vine Zinfandel, OVUM riesling (MY GOD - best wines on this list), Broc Cellars Love White, anything from Division Wine Co..

5) Start the day/meal with some bubbly or rose or pink bubbly (real Champagne if you can afford it), transition to a white or light red, and then go to the pint noir, zinfandel, or barbera to pair with the main course.

Recommendations: May Georges Cremant de Loire ($20), Gruet 'Sauvage' ($20), or Champagne Agrapart '7 Crus'

6) Don't try to pair one wine with one dish. Let's be real, it's a free-for-all shit show once the meal starts so find wines that are generally food-friendly (lower alcohol and higher in acid) and will pair well with a variety of dishes

7) Screw wine altogether and drink either 1) Bourbon/Whiskey 2) dry cider or 3) Belgian red/sour/krief beers. A few of my favorite ciders are produced by Stem Ciders in Denver and Finn River outside of Seattle. Both produce a wonderfully dry and mildly hopped cider that would do well with any food you throw at it. There are too many Bourbons but there are so many independent distilleries producing amazing bottles, you should start there (Koval, Journeyman, Breckenridge, Laws Whiskey House, Old Town Distillery). Belgian-style red ales are now widely produced across the US. A few of the best breweries are Cascade Brewing in Portland, Lost Abbey in San Marcos, California, Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, and Crooked Stave Artisans in Denver/Fort Collins. 

Mmmm... a sip of amaro a day will keep the doctor away

Mmmm... a sip of amaro a day will keep the doctor away

8) To assist with the digestion of your disgustingly excessive level of food in your body, try sipping on some amaro or similar digestif post-meal. Amaro's infusion of herbs puts your digestive system into overdrive. It also happens to taste really good and pairs well with traditional Thanksgiving flavors. My favorite: Montenegro Amaro. 

9) Don't forget to keep drinking wine with leftovers the day after - turkey sandwiches with pinot noir is just as good as the fancier stuff you ate the day before

10) Always keep grandma's wine glass full

Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!


Millenial Magnums of Fresh-as-Shit Gamay

Forty Ounce Wine in a 33.8 oz package.

Forty Ounce Wine in a 33.8 oz package.

Julien Braud 2016 "Forty Ounce" Red
Gaillac Region, France
100% Gamay
12% Alcohol

Highly Recommended

10 years ago this wine would not have sold. We've come so far in the last decade, too far in some people's minds, in reducing the white table cloth pomposity associated with wine that we now have a selection of wines called Forty Ounce. While there are certain more formal and ceremonial aspects to wine drinking that I think should be preserved, in general, I've been fully supportive of the effort my generation, referred to by some as millenial, has put into taking the snobby out of wine. The culmination of this cultural phenomenon is Forty Ounce wines, a selection of sustainably-farmed red, white, and rose wines that is the brain child of Patrick Capiello and produced by Julien Braud, a vigneron in France's Loire Valley.

While I have yet to have the rose, I've had the muscadet before, an alluringly fresh and drinkable white that is gluggable by any standard. The 100% gamay red is in a similar vein as the muscadet. It hails from the Gaillac region in south central France, somewhat of an odd choice for gamay given it is generally warmer there than in the Loire Valley, but the freshness and vivacity of the gamay that you want with this grape is still alive and well in this wine. These wines are so fresh they leave you salivating for more. Better yet, they are all around 12% alcohol so you can drink a lot of them.

The red is made from 100% gamay, farmed sustainably, fermented with indigenous yeast in concrete vats, and is lightly filtered. It has an incredibly vibrant, almost electric ruby color reminiscent of cranberry juice. The nose is well-integrated; I could smell this wine all day. On the palate, dry, medium bodied, virtually no tannin, and juicy with notes of bright red fruits. It's not just alcoholic kool-aid though, the wine has a nice earthy complexity and savory note that comes toward the finish. Top-notch juice right here.

Only disappointing thing about this bottle is that you may think you are getting 40 ounces of wine but it's really only a liter (33.8 oz). A clever and hip marketing angle but a disappointing realization. Don't blame the winemakers though, 40 oz. containers of wine are not currently allowed by the Alcohol, Tobacco, and Trade Bureau so there's not much budging room as of now. Anyone up for a lobbying effort?

I think this bottle is a great option for people who enjoy highly drinkable wines that you can consume all day and night. This red would be great slightly chilled on a hot summer day, or conversely, paired with a hearty Thanksgiving meal. Is there better French gamay for the money? Maybe, but they can't be found for much cheaper and they are few and far between. Get it!!