Tips, suggestions for selecting the ideal Thanksgiving wine
Thanksgiving dinners feature plenty of diverse flavors on the table. And with family and guests on hand, diverse tastes in wine will be around the table.
But don't fret about the wine. Just keep it simple by following a few easy tips.
Buy a slightly sweet white, a dry white and a fruity red. It's fun for guests to taste each wine to see which they like best with the food. There will be something on hand to satisfy everybody — except, perhaps, cranky Uncle Pete. Keep the wine away from him anyway.
Buy wines with relatively low alcohol. Everybody can have a second glass without worrying about driving home.
Don't bust the budget. Wine is never the center of attention at Thanksgiving dinner anyway, so stick with well made, reliable, easy drinking bottles as listed below.
Finally, while you're at it, reward yourself for hosting Thanksgiving dinner and pick up a bottle or two to enjoy in the days following the big feast.
• 2016 Charles Smith, “Kung Fu Girl” Riesling, Washington State (PLCB Code: 7465; $13.99): Back in 2005, winemaker Charles Smith hit a chord with this whimsically named, easy-drinking, slightly off-dry Riesling. Today through global powerhouse, Constellation Brands, the wine sells well worldwide, and with good reason.
Light citrus and white floral aromas open to ripe peach and lime flavors with a light kiss of fruity sweetness. Zesty acidity adds balance through the refreshing finish. Highly recommended.
• 2015 Famille Hugel, Gentil “Hugel,” Alsace, France (5259; On sale: $11.99). This has been my “go-to” Thanksgiving white for years. The wine is fruity and ripe, yet pleasingly crisp and dry with refreshing mineral notes. The Hugel family blends hand-harvested Gewürztraminer and Muscat grapes for spicy aromas and then adds Pinot Gris for fruity depth. Dashes of Riesling, Sylvaner and Pinot Blanc add racy elegance and freshness. The delicious harmonious whole personifies Alsace's fun-loving exuberance towards wine, food and sharing life's good moments. Highly recommended.
• 2015 Louis Jadot, Beaujolais-Villages, France (7208; on sale: $11.99). The wine embodies the best of modestly-priced Beaujolais reds. Irresistible raspberry and strawberry aromas mingle with a touch of intriguing earthiness. Then juicy, pure fruit with just enough concentration balances with bright acidity and soft tannins. It invites one delicious, easy drinking sip after another to keep spirits uplifted during the Thanksgiving feast. Highly recommended.
• 2014 Clos La Coutale, Cahors, France (Luxury 33701; $16.99). This terrific, fruity red could serve as a classy pick at Thanksgiving dinner. Or enjoy it with a quiet weeknight dinner sometime after the big feast. Located above the meandering Lot River in South West France, winemaker Philippe Bernède uses primarily fully ripened, dark Malbec grapes augmented with Merlot grapes. His sunny vineyards sit on southwest-facing terraces which shelter the grapes from harsh winds. Soils blending clay, gravel rocks and limestone give the Malbec grapes concentration, freshness and firm structure. The Merlot adds fleshy fruitiness and softness.
Tempting blackberry and plum aromas mingle with smoky, earthy notes. Fresh acidity and rich, silky tannins frame the wine's ripe, uplifting black-fruit flavors. Delicious and easy drinking! Recommended.
Dave DeSimone is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.