Sunday, November 1, 2009

Your Best Wine Values for Thanksgiving

(Late breaking note... Consider this just-reviewed pinot noir too: Terra Noble Pinot Noir Reserva)

When thinking about the wines you'd like to choose for Thanksgiving dinner, there are a few conflicting thoughts. First, unlike the simplicity of pairing a clean white wine with fish dinner, or a muscular red with steak, you're often dealing with turkey as a focus. And turkey - sort of like salmon - falls in that gustatory category somewhere smack between fish and steak. Not the easiest wine place to be.

Then, add to that, the fact that, if you're thinking about good VALUE wines to use for Thanksgiving, that you may well have guests to consider too. And, with guests, you likely are not hunting for something at the lowest rung of the commercial spectrum.

So with those double challenges in mind, let's look for what wines might make sense for Thanksgiving, that can still bring excellent value to your purchase.

To begin, let's talk a bit about "value". For us at Spirit of Wine, value starts with a simple comparison: what is the quality - or rating - of a wine, and what is its price point. For both of these questions, we have simple metrics: one, two, three, four or five stars for quality (sometimes with a plus), and one-through-five dollar signs for price.

With these simple ratings in place for nearly a thousand wines, the question of "value" becomes a simple - almost mechanical - one. When the rating of a wine (its number of stars) exceeds the price of a wine (its number of dollar signs) by two or more, it is a great value. (When a wine's rating exceeds its price by one dollar sign with a plus, we consider that a "good value", though not "great".)

So, that covers value. Now let's think about the type of wine that can work with Thanksgiving dinner. Well, since turkey falls in some ways between steak and fish, some folks suggest rose wines. That's not a bad idea in concept.

The other thing to keep in mind, though, is that it is often the topping, dressing or sauce - and not the meat or fish itself - that should be most closely paired with the wine. With that in mind, a thin "au juice" dressing for the turkey may suggest a lighter, brigher wine - perhaps a bold white or a pinot noir; while a dense, sweet, giblet-laden gravy may suggest a richer pairing - perhaps a Rhone blend, a Lodi zinfandel or even an Aussie shiraz, to cut the sweetness of the gravy.

With all these considerations in mind, here are a few best value wines to consider for Thanksgiving, based on Spirit of Wine reviews:

***+ $ Domaine de la Chesnay Cotes du Rhone, 2007, France - Review and Rating

Find Domaine de la Chesnay at WineZap.

**** $ Cerejeiras Tinto (Red Wine), 2007, Vinho Regional Estremadura, Portugal - Review and Rating

Find Cerejeiras at WineZap.

***+ $ Patrick Lesec Bouquet Cotes du Rhone, 2005, France - Wine Review and Rating

Find Lesec Bouquet Cotes du Rhone at WineZap.

***+ $ Mazzone Immensus Malvasia, 2007, Puglia, Italy - Wine Review and Rating

Find Immensus at WineZap.

***+ $ Dr. Loosen Bros. Riesling, 2008, Mosel, Germany

Find Dr. Loosen Riesling at WineZap.

*** $ Indomita Cantus Pinot Noir, 2007, Casablanca Valley, Chile - Wine Review and Rating

Find Cantus Pinot Noir at WineZap.

1 comment:

  1. Perhaps it might seem a little heretical of me to mention it during Thanksgiving, but when I go home for the holidays we prefer some more home-cooked food as opposed to the "traditional" turkey dinner. After all, what better to give thanks for than a a great glass of wine in the company of friends and family?

    As a Ghost Pines Representative, I often pair the versatile Cabernet Sauvignon with my favorite Blue Cheese Crusted Filet Mignon. Pairing the Cab with any forward flavor, such as an antipasto platter that boasts sharp, aged cheeses like Italian Parmesan or Pecorino, is also ideal as a starter.