Tips for choosing wine for your Thanksgiving meal
AP Photo/Petr David Josek
Beer and spirits have always made an easy holiday gift appreciated by many. But in 2020, they may be more appreciated than ever. Laws have fortunately eased on sending such things through the mail, which allows for a wide array of gift options. But there are other ways to salute an affection for beer and spirits as well, from art to pillows. Here are some ideas.
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Tavour wines (picasa)
What makes a great beer taste even better? When it shows up in the mail, of course. Tavour makes gifting craft beer easy, with an array of packages available. The service delivers to 24 states with more to come, so make sure your recipient is in one of them. $35 or $99. (Tavour.com)
The COVID-19 pandemic has curbed both our travel and our time spent in bars — which means time spent in hotel bars is virtually nonexistent. Until the world is itself again, we can remember the elegance of such bars with the book "Behind the Bar," from veteran beverage and travel writer Alia Akkam, which delves into 50 bars from around the globe with a cocktail recipe from each. $19.99, amazon.com
Hot stays hot and cold stays cold in this stainless steel insulated tumbler. But its true genius is as a rugged vessel for cocktails or wine (or even beer) while in the backyard, at the beach or camping. $19.95 (ecovessel.com)
Sure, your fridge may show an appreciation for craft beer, but what about your couch? These throw pillows, in small and large sizes, make your exquisite tastes clear for all to see. $23.45 or $60.18, redbubble.com
There has perhaps never been a greater need for excellent homemade cocktails than in the midst of a pandemic. These syrups, flavored with such ingredients as apple, honey and smoked salt, and made by Chicago-based cocktail guru Revae Schneider, get you halfway there. $15.95 (simplicitesyrup.com)
Keep your ice both cold and cool looking with a stylish ice bucket from LSA International, part of the makers Canopy sustainably produced glassware line. The bucket is handmade from recycled glass and nestled in a cork base. $50 (goodeeworld.com)
An all-in-one gift set for the cocktail lover in your life includes two handsome shatter-resistant rocks glasses, two hand-blown glass stirrers and four mahogany wood coasters, plus chocolate-covered almonds because why not? Bonus: The company behind the gift box, Packed with Purpose, sources its products from small businesses and diverse social causes, not conglomerates or franchises. $110 (packedwithpurpose.gifts)
The only place cooler than the fridge for your favorite beer? The wall. Connecticut artist and award-winning beer blogger Em Sauter draws any beer on commission in her charming, distinctive style. $40 for a digital version, $57 for a print. pintsandpanels.com
Hard seltzer is the thing right now, but canned cocktails tend to offer a more interesting — not to mention boozier — experience, making them a stealthy stocking stuffer. Started by a former Anheuser-Busch executive, along with the founders of 10 Barrel Brewing in Bend, Oregon (who sold their brewery to Anheuser-Busch in 2014), F!VE Drinks offers cocktails that are familiar (mojito, margarita) and inventive (Summer Spritz, made with gin, elderflower, cucumber and lemon and grape juices among other ingredients). $9.99 or $13.99 (buyfivedrinks.co)
Sure maple syrup is delicious, but maple syrup aged in spirit barrels is tastier still. This gift pack of from Runamok features syrups aged in bourbon, rye and rum barrels, for a little extra zing with the pancakes. Bonus: The syrups also make for a wonderful cocktail ingredient. $69.95, runamokmaple.com
Beam Suntory says the Beam family first made Old Tub 140 years ago long before it was a part of the global spirits giant. It has returned on a limited basis. The fact that it is being filtered less than traditional Jim Beam makes it an affordable and interesting gift that works both as a sipper unto itself and as the base ingredient in cocktails. Prices vary; $24.95 with nationwide availability. (drizly.com)
Growing up my family always cherished the holidays and the time spend around the dinner table. With the majority of our extended family still in Canada, it was rare that we could spend the holidays with the full onslaught of relatives all converging for a holiday meal. Given this, it made the holidays and traditions associated with them, that much more special to our celebrations.
From a very early age, my sister and I were the ones responsible for setting the table. Understanding the importance of this special holiday meal, we finagled to get the special, one-time-a-year silver wear and holiday china lined up just so and gingerly arranging the napkins in a manner that if we looked back would look very much like a squashed piece of Japanese origami.
I still look back on these memories with fond admiration and for many of you, the holidays represent an opportunity to take time to celebrate, family, loved ones, and religious joys of the season and for that reason wish to create something truly special.
In setting the table, I find selecting the wines for your holiday meal are just as important if not more, as deciding dishes to be served, linens to be used, or centerpiece to be displayed. If selected just right, these wines can create the perfect nuances of holiday magic.
Remember the rule of 30. For white wines, take bottles out of the fridge 30 minutes before serving. If the white wine is too cold, you will lose some of the aromas and bouquet in the wine and it will seem rather flat. For red wines, open or decant the wine 30 minutes before serving. After red wines have been in a bottle for three or more years they need a little bit of love before the flavors emerge and develop in your guests’ glasses.
If arranging as a tasting with each course, arrange the wines from light white to dark red from left to right for ease of enjoyment for your guests.
Pinot Noir is a great addition to any Thanksgiving or holiday meal. Moderate body, and the complexity of the wine is great to pair with darker cuts of turkey or with ham, yet is flexible enough to pair with your sides of stuffing, and anything doused in gravy. Delivering red fruit flavors complemented by hints of plum mixed with subtle earthy elements, this a great crowd pleaser.
- Calera Pinot Noir Central Coast, California, USA – $
- Domaine Daniel Rion & Fils Cote de Nuits Villages, Burgundy, France – $$
- Archery Summit “Summit Vineyard” Pinot Noir, Oregon, USA – $$$
For those looking for fruitier crisp qualities in their wines, Riesling packs a punch and drives fruit-forward flavors of apple, citrus, apricot, and in some cases honey and beeswax. In addition to turkey, Riesling is a great accompaniment to sweeter roasted vegetables like squash and carrots, and any dishes that utilize baking spice to offer a fruity balance.
- Chehalem Riesling, Oregon, USA – $
- Selbach-Oster Zeltinger Schlossberg, Mosel, Germany – $$
- Scharzhofberger Riesling Trockenbeerenauslese, Mosel, Germany – $$$
Chardonnay wines offer a crisp refreshing option for your Thanksgiving table, because it carries notes of apple and citrus, pineapple, and in some cases buttery flavors. Chardonnay wines are perfect for pairing with herbal qualities found in your meal from sage to thyme, and even to roasted vegetables and turkey. With the richness found in most Thanksgiving meals, Chardonnay is a great way to cleanse the palate to prepare for your next bite.
- Trefethen Chardonnay, Napa Valley, California – $
- Penfolds Cellar Reserve, Adelaide Hills, Australia – $$
- Bernard Morey et Fils Les Embrazees, Burgundy, France – $$$
For richer, red meats at your holiday dinner, look to try pairing Zinfandel with your table spread. This bold wine is perfect to accentuate dark jammy fruit flavors but also highlighting spices used in rich dressing (stuffing) complete with caramelized onions, spice rubbed rib roasts, and tomato-paste based gravies. Flavors of dark berries, strawberries, and spice notes of cloves, cinnamon, allspice and tobacco give this wine a full, robust, and rich quality.
- Oak Farm Zinfandel, Lodi, California – $
- Peachy Canyon Zinfandel, Paso Robles, California – $$
- Williams Selyem Bacigalupi, Sonoma, California – $$$