Talkin’ Turkey Too: A Feast of Fizz
If you read our Thanksgiving wine blog post from last week, you hopefully dialed down your holiday stress level a bit, and narrowed the field for yourself on Thanksgiving wine choices. So, I’m back this week to complicate things all over again by letting you in on secret about wine and food pairing in general— a secret that will turn a complicated task (and wine category) into the simplest of its kind.
The secret is hidden in plain sight, fastened neatly into one of my oft-used statements about pairing food and wine, which goes “when all else fails, drink bubbly”. It really is that simple. The theory behind it is too, which implies that many of the foods that have a difficult time pleasing the palate when partnering with still wine (ie: the sweet/savory dual assault of the Thanksgiving table) tend to have a natural affinity for sparkling wine. The reason, of course, is rooted in the obvious components of sparkling wine that are absent in still wine (mainly higher acidity, and fizz), but we’ll leave the science behind this to the gastro geeks of the world to explain.
Now that we’ve settled on a point of view, the new challenge is to tackle the variants in this often misunderstood but newly embraced wine category, and finally decide on a suitable bottle of bubbles to un-cage for the in-laws and outlaws alike. To assist you in the search, I’ve linked you throughout to Suburban Wines & Spirits in Westchester County, one of Women’s Advancement Compact’s strategic partners, and the place where I formerly connected all of those customers with their “turkey juice” for many-a-Thanksgiving. Shall we?….
For The Frugal Host
We all have affordable Italian Prosecco to thank for seducing us wine lovers over to the bubbly side of life. But now that you’ve made the transition, consider drinking and serving something more distinguished, and even site-specific, without necessarily costing more coin. In retail, it was my mission for a time to convert Prosecco drinkers to Spanish Cava— Spain’s traditional counterpart to French Champagne, resulting in eureka for any open-minded customer who would accept my advice. If you want to provide equal nirvana for your holiday guests, stand clear of the commercial Cavas, and take advantage of the more hand-crafted, sometimes single-estate bottlings newly available. Properly chosen Cava blancos, when composed of the native Catalonian grape varieties, can be complex and illogically compelling in their price range (typically $11-$16), while Cava rosados add some toasty richness and definition into your bubbly experience, while remaining dry, and only a few bucks higher.
For The Adventurist
As I often say, “it’s a big market and I love it”. With so much to choose from, it’s almost criminal to stick with the familiar. If you can be easily lured over to bubbly’s “mysterious side”, reward surely awaits. From the lean, mean, and strikingly clean, to the bold and biscuity, to the luscious and off-dry, sparkling wines from all the tiny corners of the globe can undoubtedly find their place at your holiday table. Important categories to consider, some of which were scarce in the US just a decade ago, include Austrian Sekt, Loire Chenin, Italian Franciacorta, Savoie Rosé, New Mexican Blanc de Noirs, Italian Lambrusco, Moscato d’Asti and even Canadian Sparkling Apple Wine are regulars during our meals, and are guaranteed to become conversation pieces during your holiday dinner.
For The Fancy Pants (AKA: The Big Spender)
When you have a bigger wine budget, and you want to demonstrate how beautiful Thanksgiving food and world-class wine can harmonize, look no further than the king of regional bubbly, the category that needs no introduction— Champagne. But when choosing from the finest of sparkling wines on the planet, keep in mind that price doesn’t always correlate with quality. My advice on the quickest and simplest way to sort out the Champagne scoreboard without over-spending is not necessarily by sub-region, or style or brand; it is according to a new paradigm: Commercial House vs Grower. Let’s face it, all styles and brands that emerge from this special region can exude brilliance. Just as long as you realize that you’ll always pay a premium on a bottle from one of the big recognizable houses, and that “Grower” wines, which are usually more distinguished in flavor, are available in growing numbers, your decision should be clear. Some favorites from the “Farmer Fizz” movement include Chapuy Tradition, a doughy, toasty and intense blend, Gimmonet-Gonet, a detailed and wonderfully-chiseled blend from an area associated with ultra-elite bubblies, and Henri Goutorbe Special Club ’04— an extravagant and super-refined vintage Champagne from a young estate that strives for excellence.
Before I cut you loose into your sparkling shopping spree, you should also be aware that you’re invited to taste many outstanding sparkling wines like the ones mentioned, at a very special WAC wine event in early December. All That Sparkles is an informal evening of wine, snacks and education, at a sexy new space, that will add new dimension to your sparkling wine adventures. Sign up today for yourself and a date. Seating is limited. Cheers!