This month, the holiday season really gets into gear. Thanksgiving kicks off weeks of festivities, from religious celebrations and office parties to momentous family gatherings and lighthearted fetes with friends. One never knows when a celebration might erupt, and it certainly isn’t the time to be low on wine.
I’ve gathered six wines that cover all the bases, from sparkling to sweet. With these bottles on hand, you’ll be prepared for any occasion.
If there is ever a season to have a bubbly, this is it. You need one with an impressive flavor, a fine mousse, and an affordable price (unlike costly real Champagne). Velenosi Passerina Brut NV ($20, Bacchus Importers Ltd.) fits the bill. It leads with interesting floral aromas, follows up with bright citrus notes, and finishes with creamy bubbles and loads of finesse. It may be the best value in sparkling wine in the $20 range.
White wine may not be the first drink that comes to mind as colder weather approaches, but it’s important to remember that we’re in oyster season and that a large bird is looming in most people’s gastronomic futures. Bogle Sauvignon Blanc 2009 ($14, Constantine Wines) pairs well with either. It’s a vibrant, juicy wine with classic Sauvignon Blanc lemon and lime, a hint of fresh-cut lawn around the edges, and enough body
to render it satisfyingly versatile.
If you need a white with more sophistication and character, consider the Springfield Estate Chardonnay Methode Ancienne 2006 ($42, The Country Vintner), an astounding example of the variety. Fermented using indigenous yeasts and kept in the barrel for 12 months, this South African princess manages to project the opulence of Meursault with the pinpoint elegance of Puligny Montrachet. Yes, I’m invoking two bastions of Burgundy Chardonnay in describing a South African wine, but this wine is worth every penny and deserves attention.
Wine lovers of every stripe struggle each year to match red wine to the Thanksgiving meal. I find that middleweight wines work best and are well matched to the change from crisp autumn to snappy winter. The French region of Beaujolais is a great source for such wines, as exemplified by the Chateau du Basty Régnié 2009 ($18, The Country Vintner). This supple wonder, made from the Gamay grape, exudes notes of wild strawberry and black raspberry. It is framed by soft tannins that support the wine without threatening to overpower mild foods like poultry.
If overt fruitiness is more to your taste, then the Sokol Blosser Pinot Noir Dundee Hills 2007 ($43, Reliable Churchill) is your wine. It bursts with red-fruit notes of a darker hue, with a wisp of tobacco spice, and even a faint echo of mocha. It will handle a turkey dinner with aplomb and will also excel with festive crown roasts.
As the January weigh-in will attest, there is no shortage of desserts this time of year, and Fonseca Porto “Terra Bella” Organic ($26, Republic National) is a fine accompaniment. Visions of sugarplums will dance in your head, along with sweet cherry and a hint of chocolate. The port works with a range of sweets, but I suspect I will be enjoying it best on its own, in front of the fire, after a hearty holiday chow-down.