Wine Reviews Tasting Notes and Education for the Non-Snob, by Vino Joe, a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW)

Porthos Website Review

Generally speaking, the personalized service you get from a GOOD wine shop cannot be matched by an online retailer. There’s something to be said for face-to-face interaction with a human being who knows something about the wines on the shelf. Add in the touchy-feely enjoyment of picking up and handling bottles, and it’s next to impossible to re-create the experience through a website.

However, there are some online wine retailers who do as well a job as can be done with the virtual process. In my opinion, the key is not to try to emulate the traditional retail experience but rather to make the most of modern technology to create a new / alternative way of selling.

Such is the case with Porthos.com, a site that specifically caters to Napa and Sonoma wine fans. That’s an interesting and effective slant — targeting a very narrow area on the world wine map. Let’s face it, any run-of-the-mill online wine shop is going to have a hard time beating the varied selection and pricing of, say, a Wine.com, WineLibrary.com, or SamsWine.com. But Porthos can stake their claim as “the” place for high-end Napa and Sonoma wines — if that’s what you’re in to.

Naturally, Porthos carries California’s finest, with bottles from well-known estates such as BV, Clos du Val, Far Niente, Etude, Dominus, Duckhorn, Chateau Montelena, and Cain Five, to the lesser-known, “cult” wineries such as Block 16, Barnett, Leeuwin, Newton, Coho, and Pahlmeyer — to name a few. There isn’t a dog in the bunch, a stark contrast to the many “faux-boutique” online retailers that push off unknown, ordinary wines as “undiscovered values”.

What I really like about Porthos.com is the organization of the site. Because their selection is limited, it’s easy and enjoyable to browse. In particular, the “Best Buys Under $30” and “Staff Picks” include intriguing wines that even a geek will appreciate. Too often on other sites, I’m overwhelmed by the dozens and dozens of choices per varietal — while selection is nice, sometimes you just want someone to tell you “here, try this, it’s good stuff.” Based on what Porthos has currently put together in their “best buys”, mixed packs, and “staff picks”, I think they can be trusted.

Last point: though they specialize in Napa and Sonoma, Porthos does have a few bottles from other areas, and also offers a very limited selection of “Passport International Wines“. Again, I have to say that I like what they’ve chosen; for example, their current choices include two bottles from Chateau Routas — who I think makes some of the best pink wine in the world — and a Cahors from Clos La Coutale (IMHO, one of the best bangs for your buck when it comes to Cahors).

So if you are into the wines of Sonoma and Napa counties, I suggest you at least take a browse of Porthos.com and see for yourself. And please, leave your comments here on what you think of their selections and service.

(By the way, if you didn’t major in English Lit in college, you may not know what “Porthos” means. Porthos is the name of one of the “Three Musketeers” — specifically, the wild and amiable, wine-drinking musketeer — from the Alexandre Dumas novel.)

Power Tasting: Arcanum 1-2-3

Arcanum 1 wine labelLooking for an impressive, big-ticket bottle of wine that is cooler than the well-knowns? [Read more...]

Wines for Valentines

Pink Truck wine bottleChoosing a wine for Valentine’s Day doesn’t have to be so different from any other special occasion. That said, sparkling wine or Champagne is the ultimate celebratory beverage, and the obvious choice for romantic endeavors. It’s a no-brainer — you can’t go wrong by picking a quality Champagne, no matter how you choose to spend your Valentine’s Day. You can drink it as an aperitif, with appetizers, through the meal, and in the hot tub afterward (beyond that you can let your creative juices run wild with the possibilities).

Ideally, I recommend you spend the extra dough and get a “real” Champagne, meaning the bubbles from France. Why? Because first of all your lover is worth it. Secondly, the fact that you’ve chosen the “real stuff” makes the motion that much more special. Finally, the majority of French Champagne you find will have the versatility mentioned above — in fact most Champagne labeled as Brut will have enough structure and acidity to drink right through a main course. Some of the brands you can trust include Bollinger, Deutz, Laurent-Perrier, Pommery, Heidsieck & Monopole, Gosset, Mumm, Billecart-Salmon, Roederer, Veuve-Clicquot, Taittinger, Ruinart, Leroy, and Bellefon. Understand that the aforementioned list is a small sample of what’s available, and I provide them with the assumption you rarely purchase Champagne, offering some trustworthy names you will likely see on a wine list or in a retail shop. If you are a more advanced imbiber of bubbles, you may want to check out the Champagne and Sparkling Wines for New Year’s article.

If you’re only into sparkling wine as a pre-emptive quaff to dinner, then you might rather prefer a Prosecco or a Moscato d’Asti, which are fizzy wines from Italy that have just the slightest hint of sweetness — just enough to whet your palate and get you in the mood for a romantic dinner.

Foregoing Champagne as your dinner pairing, you should choose a wine just as you would normally — pick a wine that will go with the meal and both you and your partner will enjoy. The only difference comes with the budget; if you are the type of person who weighs the price of a wine as much as the vintage (don’t be ashamed, I’m guilty), then throw that sensibility out the window on Valentine’s Day — it is an evening for splurging, not counting pennies. One night of breaking the budget won’t destroy you, so go ahead and pick that wine you always wanted to try but could never justify the expense. If your date knows you well enough, the surprise of your careless spending will heighten the romance, and you’ll be paid back in spades later in the evening.

Still looking for something that just screams Valentine’s Day? Short of being corny, you have two more options: choose a pink / rose wine, or find a wine that has something “lovely” on the label.

There are two types of pink wines — dry and off-dry (sweet). If you are a regular wine drinker and enjoy dry whites and reds, you’ll be pleased to find that dry rose can be not only a refreshing aperitif but also very adaptable to a number of dishes. Some of the best rose wines in the world come from Spain and Portugal, and are fairly inexpensive. There are also good choices from France, particularly Tavel and Bandol. Regardless of the region, be sure to get a fresher vintage — ideally, a wine labeled within the last two years. Like most white wines, rose wines tend to fade quickly, and are most enjoyable young.

If you or your date drinks wine only on occasion, or finds most wines are too dry or bitter, but you still want to have something pink, there is always white zinfandel. Personally, I’m not fond of white zins, but I will recommend Pink Truck, which is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre and Zinfandel. Though it definitely has a sweet component, it also has good structure — medium acidity and mild tannins — that allow it to match well with food. It is a perfect pink for people who are weaning off cola with their meals, and for those who think Yellowtail is the best wine ever. In other words, a step up from white zinning.

Finally, should your choice be to be clever, you can choose a wine that actually says love on the label. One of my favorites is the Beaujolais Cru Saint-Amour … which literally translates to “saint love”. Being a Beaujolais, it should match well with a variety of foods, so will make a safe choice. Additionally, there is a line of wines from Tortoise Creek that are labeled “Les Amoureux” (the lovers). There are whites and reds and you’ll know them by the cartoon drawing of two lovey dovey turtles, one holding a bottle of wine, the other a glass.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wines for the Super Bowl

Super Bowl Lombardi TrophyOK, you’ve prepared a tray of baked ziti, have the nuclear-hot buffalo wings roasting in the oven, your secret-recipe chili simmering on the stove, and spread out the chips, dips, pre-cut veggie platter and getting ready to dole out the over-under squares in the final score pool. For beverages, you have the keg on ice and six choices of soda. What about the wine?

Huh? Who drinks wine during the Super Bowl?

Lots of people, if you’ll just give them the option. The trick is to provide the right wines for your crowd and your food spread — without killing your budget.

With big parties of people that may have diverse tastes, I like to go with reliable, popular standbys that meld well with a variety of foods, such as Pinot Grigio or Soave. There are plenty of solid, if unspectacular selections that come in wallet-forgiving 1.5-liter bottles. One 1.5 of Pinot Grigio or Soave is a must — the wine will go with nearly anything you’re serving, and be acceptable for drinking on its own. If you’re serving some particularly spicy dishes, you may also want to offer a bottle of German Riesling. Riesling is another food-friendly wine that matches with nearly everything, and its slight touch of perceived sweetness will provide a fine foil for hotter foods (i.e., buffalo wings, hot poppers, etc.).

In addition to the whites, you should also consider a dry rose, as most will go very nicely with myriad appetizers, from pigs in blankets to pate. The key, however, is to get a “fresh” vintage, especially in the under-ten-buck range. Fresh means the vintage on the label is from only a year or two ago. Look in the wine shop’s “Spain” or “Portugal” aisle for the best values.

For reds, it’s probably a good idea to pick up at least one bottle of inexpensive Pinot Noir, for no other reason than the fact that most pedestrian wine drinkers think it is the “best” wine to drink. If you have more savvy wine geeks, then by all means find a red to match with whatever you’re serving as a main course. For example, if you’re doing the baked ziti thing, Chianti is a no-brainer. If you’re doing some kind of chicken dish, go with a Cru Beaujolais or a lighter Merlot. Also, Cotes-du-Rhone (France) is an affordable, reliable red that matches with a variety foods and is pleasing to most palates.

Considering that football tends to draw crowds with a higher-than-normal testosterone level, you may want to also have on hand a bottle of the biggest, baddest red wine you can squeeze into your budget, such as a jammy Zinfandel or a palate-shattering Shiraz. There are some remarkably affordable wines that fit this profile; for example, anything from Ravenswood will fit the bill — after all, their motto is “no wimpy wines”. Rosemount and Penfolds also offer big, fruit-forward reds in the $10-20 range, as does anything from the Australian Wine Collection (you’ll see an identifying circular sticker on the bottle neck). In addition, you’ll probably score a hit without damaging your budget by choosing almost any red wine from importer Peter Click’s portfolio (look at the fine print on the back label to find a foreign wine’s importer).

If you think your party invites will appreciate it, go the distance and pick up a bottle or two of sparkling wine to celebrate the winning team. A good Cava (Juve y Camps is a reliable brand) or Prosecco will only run you about ten to twelve bucks, as will a sparkling wine from Domaine Ste. Michelle.

Keep the game plan simple — easygoing, food-friendly bottles with a few surprise, big-play reds mixed in — and you’re sure to score with your Super Bowl guests.

Champagne and Sparkling Wine for New Year’s

It’s time to ring in the New Year, and what other way than with a sparkling wine or Champagne?

Following are some of my favorite “non-vintage” or “NV” bottlings, with choices for every budget. Why non-vintage? For a few reasons, with the most prominent being consistency. Generally speaking, a Champagne house or sparkling wine producer makes their non-vintage in such a way that it tastes the same every year. Whereas a vintage-dated bottle will have a character and taste that reflects the year printed on the label, an NV — usually made from grapes and juice from several years — reflects the “house style”, and in many ways is the brand’s representative bottling. So, if you like the non-vintage bubbly from a particular brand, you’ll probably always enjoy it, from year to year, and there’s a good chance you’ll also like the vintage sparklers from the same house. Since vintage-dated sparkling wines normally cost more than the NV, you can consider the NV as an introduction, or tryout, before you shell out the big bucks for, say, a 1995 vintage Champagne from a particular house.

Enough banter, let’s get on with the suggestions. Rather than try to rank them, they’re listed by price from high to low. (By the way, clicking on the name of any of these wines will take you to the Wine-Searcher page, so you can find it at a retailer in your neighborhood).

1. Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve
($35)
Good mousse — lots of fine, tiny bubbles. Toasty nose of citrus, toasted Wonderbread, stony mineral. Good weight in the mouth — full and creamy. Nice citrus flavor — lemon peel / lime, pear, a bit of peach and vanilla, along with a touch of ginger snap and a hint of mineral. Good acidity — plenty of structure here to match with a myriad of foods. A high quality, lovely Champagne.

2. Moet White Star ($27)
The nose has open aromas of toasted Wonderbread, apple, pear, and vanilla spice. Big bubbles carry a creamy texture, decent acidity and mild white fruits: braemar apple, pear, touch of lemony citrus. Finishes pleasantly, with creamy fruit and a citrusy edge of acidity. An excellent choice as an aperitif or with just about any appetizer.

3. Pommery Brut Royal ($39)
Small to medium-sized bubbles, a somewhat closed, citrusy aroma with some toastiness and a hint of butterscotch. More toasty character comes out in the palate, which also displays mild pear and zesty lime / citrus flavors and a distinct mineral component that almost seems salty. Good dose of acidity holds things together and helps carry through to a balanced, pleasing dry finish. This Champagne tastes better as it sits in the flute and warms up a few degrees — it becomes rounder, riper, and more full-flavored.

4. Heidsieck & Co. Monopole Blue Top
($25)
Like the previous three, this is a dry style of Champagne, so if you’re into the sweeter sparklers, stay away. Otherwise, dive right in. You will be excited with anticipation the moment the wine is poured into the glass, as it will become charged with an abundance of aggressive, tiny bubbles that develop an immediate, full foam (or mousse, as the geeks call it). Clean, citrusy, slightly toasted aroma that also has a hint of mineral. In the mouth, you get very similar flavors as were on the nose, along with a touch of honey and pear, all tightly wound by a stiffly acidic wrapper. It has excellent structure, yet remains elegant and has the perception of being lighter than it really is.

5. Jaillance Clairette de Die “Cuvee Imperiale” ($15.99)
It’s French, but not Champagne — it’s sparkling wine from the Drome Valley in Provence, made from Clairette and Muscat grapes. This friendly fizzer has forward floral and ripe fruit aromas, including notes of sweet pear and muscat. The bubbles dance on your palate and deliver super-ripe flavors of bright fresh pear, granny smith apple, and hints of peach and lychee that give the impression of sweetness; however, it finishes almost completely dry and clean. A nice bonus is extremely low alcohol — about 7%, or slightly higher than beer. Fine on its own, the mild acidity offers just enough structure to match with simply prepared appetizers.

6. Juve y Camps Reserva de la Familia ($14.99)
If you can’t afford good Champagne, the next best thing is a bottle of Prosecco (a sparkling wine from Italy) or Cava, which is Spain’s version of bubbly. This example from Juve y Camps has lots of fizz, good acidity, is fruity yet dry, and finishes with a nice clean aftertaste. Strong scents of pear and spice in the nose. Good fruit, good acidity and good finish. Nice mousse (bubbles/froth). Not overly dry; hint of sweetness. Elegant. A super bargain

7. Canella Prosecco di Conegliano ($12.99)
Clean, mild nose exhibiting a touch of citrus and mineral. In the mouth, bubbles are coarse, flavor is clean with some salty mineral. There is enough acidity to match fairly well with food. Try it with spicy dishes as a foil, fish, and Greek (goes well with tzatziki). Citrusy fruit, light body, easy drinking, simple and short but pleasing finish.

8. Domaine Ste. Michelle Blanc de Noirs ($9.99)
Color is a pale orange — more like cooked salmon than pink. Soft, fruity nose of citrus and a hint of raspberry. Pretty good mousse, with persistent medium-sized bubbles. In the mouth it is mostly dry, with maybe a touch of sweetness that is due more to a fun and fruity ripeness than dosage. Finishes completely dry, with a good dose of acidity, which helps with structure and food matching. This runs about $9-12 for a bottle, and at that price it is a steal. Domaine Ste. Michelle is one of, if not the, most respected wineries in Oregon.

9. Pommery POP
($8.99 for 187ml)
You’ve seen all the cool people on TV or in a bass-thumping techno club sipping this Champagne through a straw. So let’s see, it’s real Champagne from France, it comes in a single-serving size, and it’s OK to drink with a straw … sounds great to me! This is a good quality Champagne that tends toward the sweeter, less-dry side — though it finishes fairly dry.

10. Sofia Blanc de Blancs ($3.99 for 187ml)
OK, there may be something cooler than Pommery POP. Imagine another single-serving sparkling wine you can sip with a straw, only it comes in a can. That’s right, an aluminum can, just like Budweiser. And it only costs about four bucks, so there’s no excuse for anyone not to celebrate 2007 with bubbles. Whether you’re a snob, an anti-snob, anti-French, American jingoist, short on cash, or a beer drinker more accustomed to drinking out of a can, there’s a sparkling wine for you.

Enjoy your New Year’s celebration, and best wishes to you in 2007!

Top Ten Wines for Thanksgiving

wine and turkey for thanksgivingYou have two issues when matching wine with the traditional turkey dinner — first, a wine that will go with turkey, and second, a wine that will have a chance to stand up to all the trimmings and various side dishes. Needless to say, this is not an easy task.

Ideally, it would be nice to find one bottle to match with everything. In reality, that’s next to impossible. Of course, much depends on what all the side dishes are — and it seems that every family has a different assortment of “traditional” sides.

Generally speaking, it’s safe to assume that you’ll have roast turkey, cranberry sauce, and stuffing. The turkey and cranberry sauce are fairly consistent across the nation, but the stuffing is where things start to get wild. Many families go with a very simple recipe — made from stale bread, onions, and herbs — while others serve stuffing anointed with sausage, cranberries, oysters, apples, bacon, chestnuts, raisins … the possibilities are seemingly endless.

That said, trying to come up with a list of perfect wines that will match with everything will not be done here. However, I can assure you that every wine suggested here will definitely go with the absolute basics — roast turkey, simple stuffing, and mashed potatoes, and some might even meld with the cranberry sauce. That’s because every one of these wines was tested — and tasted — with turkey roasted with a mild hint of rosemary and thyme (and other herbs commonly used with poultry), Stove Top turkey stuffing (unadulterated, right out of the box), cranberry sauce (Ocean Spray, from the can), baked potato, baked sweet potato (not candied), and creamed pearl onions (just butter and cream, nothing else). This “standard” meal offered a simple laboratory for the wines, and if a wine worked with this “Thanksgiving lab”, it should work well enough for your variation on Turkey Day. Enough gibble-gobble, let’s get on with the wines …

1. Mas Carlot Marsanne Roussanne
Yes, I’m sure there are people out there a little upset that the first-recommended wine is French. Well, get used to it — there happen to be a number of French wines on this list. Don’t worry, there are also several American choices, for those who want to keep the patriotic spirit of Thanksgiving (though, it’s doubtful the pilgrims or the American indians had any American wines on the table back in 1621 … in fact, chances are that any wine at that first meal would have been French).

This is a relatively unusual blend, especially if you’re used to varietal wines such as Chardonnay or Cabernet Sauvignon. However, these two Rhone Valley grapes work well in unison to match with nearly everything on the table, offering a citrusy, spicy flavor, good acidity, and ample body to stand up to the turkey, stuffing, potatoes, onions, and even the cranberry sauce.

2. Ponzi Pinot Gris
This is the first recommendation of several American wines, and like the Mas Carlot, it matches perfectly with just about everything on the table, and has the flexibility to go with many variations of stuffing. Crisp and clean, with good ripe fruit — apple, white peach, and a touch of limey citrus. This particular Pinot Gris is from Oregon, specifically the Willamette Valley (pronounced to rhyme with dammit, as in “Willamette, dammit!”), and if you can’t find this particular brand, I highly recommend Pinot Gris from either Oregon or the Alsace region in France as outstanding choices for Thanksgiving.

3. Atwater Estate Riesling

Another American wine, this one from New York State. A touch of perceived sweetness adds a surprising zing, waking up both the turkey and stuffing. That same sweetness stands up perfectly to the cranberry sauce — no small feat. This is not only a fine match for Turkey Day, but is also a particularly good choice for the very casual wine drinkers — i.e., the ones who are graduating from white zin and Yellowtail. Supplier: Atwater Estate

4. Hedges Cellars CMS White
Yet another American wine, this is another unusual blend, made from 54% Sauvignon Blanc, 44% Chardonnay, and 2% Marsanne. Interestingly, a wine made only from any one of these varietals would likely be a good candidate for turkey, so mixing them all together also seems to work nicely. The nose is slightly closed at first, but eventually opens up to emit ripe pear, white peach, and a hint of spice. The palate is very similar — lots of ripe peach, some pear — and has a decent level of acidity. It matches best with the white and dark meat turkey, is hit and miss with the rest.

5. Geyser Peak Sauvignon Blanc
Crisp, clean fruit with good mouthfeel, this is a Sauvignon Blanc that is mostly devoid of the “gooseberry” / “cat pee” aromas that turn so many people off, while still holding to typical Sauvignon Blanc character. Its citrusy flavor matches quite nicely with the white meat, and has enough acidity to hold its own against most of the accompanying foods.

6. Cru Beaujolais – your pick

OK, in this case we have two recommendations — La Roilette Fleurie and Georges Duboeuf Chenas — as their similar flavor profiles were equally complementary to nearly everything on the table. In fact you’ll probably be safe in going with any of a number of Cru Beaujolais bottles. Although every Cru has a distinct character, all are share certain elements in common that make them perfect for the Thanksgiving feast: bright cherry flavors, mild tannins, ample acidity, and the ability to meld well with foods — rarely will a Beaujolais overpower a dish.

7. Ballentine Chenin Blanc
Despite its youth (2004 vintage), it has a slightly oxidized, cooked pear thing going on, which is remarkably reminiscent of a Vernaccia di San Gimignano. It works very well with the white meat, creamed onions, and sweet potato, and hold up well enough against the cranberry sauce. If you can’t find this at a local retailer, it is available for online order from MyWinesDirect.

8. Domaine des Echards Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune

Fresh, bright cherry and cranberry aromas and flavors and smooth texture match well with the turkey and stuffing, and, not surprisingly, goes well with the cranberry sauce. Like Pinot Gris, Pinot Noir is often an ideal match for turkey, and though this particular bottle is under twenty bucks, I suggest that — if you can afford to do so — you spend on the upper end ($40 ++) for a Premier Cru or higher level red Burgundy. It will be well worth the ducats, should match perfectly with the bird, and might even be life-changing. And after all, it’s a holiday, and you’re with the people you love most … what other excuse is there to spend big bucks on a wine?

9. Merryvale Sauvignon Blanc “Starmont”

This one’s a crowd pleaser, with bright ripe white citrus, melon, and spice flavors on the palate, all held together with ample acidity, with none of the typical grassy / gooseberry character. Notes of apple and spice make it taste more like a Chardonnay than a Sauvignon Blanc, and help it to match with more complex stuffing recipes.

10. Dezzani Dolcetto d’Alba
Light- to medium-bodied, very fresh and bright. The aromas and flavors are dominated by black cherry, but also include a hint of mint and rosemary, melding marvelously with the herb-roasted turkey and stuffing. Who knew an Italian wine from Piedmont would be so good with the bird?

So there you have it — ten wines to try with Thanksgiving dinner. You can download and print a handy shopping list here, which includes a simple listing of all of the above wines, as well as a few other suggestions that didn’t quite make the cut.

Wines for Thanksgiving

thanksgiving roast turkeyAh, the perennial feast of the United States — for the foodie it is the ultimate holiday, with its succulent roast turkey surrounded by what seems to be every side dish known to mankind. And those “other” dishes are what makes the wine match a serious challenge.

A wine to go with roast turkey is easy enough: go with a mild-to-medium-bodied red, such as a Pinot Noir from Burgundy, or try a full-flavored white, such as a white Burgundy, a Califoakian Chardonnay, or a Pinot Gris from Alsace. However, the turkey is not the only thing on the table, so what wine can you choose that will go with everything?

There’s an easy answer to this: don’t try to match everything with one bottle. Instead, choose a few bottles with differing characteristics.

OK, that was too easy … and chances are you’re not going to buy eight different bottles of wine to go with the myriad dishes. So, if you’re invited to someone’s home for Thanksgiving dinner, what is an appropriate wine to bring?

The first choice is Champagne; what better way to celebrate a holiday than with bubbles? Forget the cheap stuff — spend some money and get a full-bodied, legitimate Champagne from France. A vintage brut cuvee, rose, or Chardonnay (often called “blanc de blancs”) can carry you through the day, or get a “non-vintage” for about half the price. Choose one from a reputable house such as Pommery, Mumm, Bollinger, Moet, or Perrier-Jouet. Or, if you’re willing to look a little harder, find a sparkler from Billecart-Salmon or Besserat de Bellefon, two houses that are lesser-known but will provide a great bottle to start the day and will have the power to drink throughout the meal (so maybe two bottles would be better!).

The second choice, in my book, is a Beaujolais, such as a Julienas, Moulin-a-Vent, Brouilly, Chenas, Fleurie, or other cru. Beaujolais wines have good acidity and just enough tannins to stand up to a variety of foods. The fresh, fruity ripe cherry flavor matches nicely with just about everything at the table, including the cranberry sauce. In additon to a cru Beaujolais, you may also find it fun to bring along a Nouveau, which is worthwhile as a conversation piece and will be enjoyable for the less-serious wine drinkers (i.e., the white zinners).

The aforementioned Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris are not only good matches for turkey, but will also match with a variety of other foods at the table. If you choose a Pinot Noir, the suggestion — as it was with the Champagne — is to take the ducats out of your wallet and lay them down on a real Pinot Noir from Burgundy, France. As you may have seen on Sideways, there is something rather special about these wines; a good Burgundy is more an experience than a mere beverage. What better time to drink it than on a holiday, surrounded by loved ones?

Finally, if you want to have a white wine at the table, go with either a Pinot Gris from Alsace or a German Riesling. Simple Pinot Grigio, such as from Italy, is OK for appetizers, but doesn’t have the substance to follow along to the main course. Conversely, an Alsace Pinot Gris (which is the same grape, but from a different place) has significant weight in the mouth, much fuller bodied, and adds a riper, spicier note that melds well with both the turkey and many of the trimmings. German Riesling — specifically a dry QbA or Kabinett (the designation will be printed somwhere on the label). These wines have a lot of bright, fruit flavors of apple and peach, with searing acidity and mineral notes that pair well with all kinds of foods from creamed onions to sausage and herb stuffing. Perhaps best of all, German Rieslings tend to be around six to eight percent alcohol — not much more than a beer — so you can drink them all day without feeling the effect of wines double in proof.

So there you have it, a quick rundown on several wines to choose from for the Thanksgiving feast. Stop by the site a little later to read about the specific wine I will be serving for bird day.