I know as well as anyone how hard it is to locate specific wines that are written about in magazines, newspapers or the Internet – especially if you need them on short notice. And with a day to go before the hungry hordes descend on your table for turkey and trimmings, there isn’t time to special order that small production Pinot you’re looking for.
However, you might be able to find wines made in a similar style if you bring a copy of a wine’s description to a good wine shop with a knowledgeable sales staff. Of course, there are plenty of stores that fit that bill in Cincinnati. I’m thinking smaller shops with passionate staffers like Microwines in Kenwood, The Wine Merchant in Hyde Park, Dilly Deli in Mariemont and the Wine C.A.R.T. in West Chester. But you can check out bigger stores, too, like Jungle Jim, Party Source and Cork n’ Bottle — just make sure you’re talking to one of the wine staff and not an overeager stock guy, who might not know as much as he (or she) thinks.
In case you’re still mulling over what to serve this year, I thought it might be helpful to review the wines I picked out for our holiday feast. If any of them sound particularly appealing to you, see if your local shop can hook you up with something similar.
2006 Allan Scoot Sauvignon Blanc ($12) — New Zealand Sauvignon Blancs like this one are crisp and a little tart. Stainless steel tank fermented, it’s very citrusy with zippy acidity and will be a great ‘aperitif’ wine that will pair well with the sorts of things we tend to graze on before the meal hits the table — cheeses, crudite, shrimp, etc.
2005 Tahbilk Viognier ($16) — An Australian Viognier is not a traditional choice for Thanksgiving, but I’m not a huge fan of oaky Chardonnay, so I got this big fleshy white that shows hints of peaches and stone fruits to appeal to those who are. It’s partially barrel fermented, which adds some of those cinnamon and spice characteristics that Chard drinkers love, but it’s primarily driven by the fruit.
2005 Studert Prum Spatlese Wehlener Sonnenuhr Riesling ($16) – As far as I’m concerned, an off-dry Riesling is the chameleon of the wine world, pairing beautifully with just about everything. 2005 was a spectacular year in Germany, so it’s hard to go wrong with anything you find in your price range — just make sure it has a strong enough undercurrent of acidity to balance any residual sugar.
2005 Haywood “Los Chamizal” Zinfandel ($16) — Here’s my big red Zin, America’s wine, which is pretty much always present at our Thanksgiving celebrations. Expect big, briary fruit in a wine that deftly manages to balance size and elegance.
2005 Duboeuf Moulin a Vent ‘Carquelin’ ($14) – The 2007 Beaujolais Nouveau is just appearing on the market this week – and those wines are light and sweet and grapey. This single village wine is in a different class altogether, showing far more depth and complexity and making it a better partner for your turkey.
2006 Mt. Difficulty ‘Roaring Meg’ Pinot Noir ($17) – The movie Sideways made Pinot Noir a star, though more than any other wine I find that you get what you pay for in this category. It’s notoriously difficult to find good Pinot under $20, but this one — from New Zealand — is varietally correct and very tasty, showing lots of berry and cherry fruit on a bigger frame that closes with some seriously drying tannins. While it won’t be mistaken for a lithe and beguiling Burgundy (which are made from the same grape), it will undoubtedly please your guests.
2005 Elderton Botrytis Semillon ($15/375 ml) – Drunk young, this Aussie version of a French Sauterne will lack some of the complexity of an aged Chateau D’Yquem, but it makes up for it with lively texture and exuberant flavors of tropical fruit and classic crème brulee. It has enough residual sugar and smoky botrytis character to stand alone, but it can easily hold its own after your meal with a pungent cheese plate — or maybe even a pumpkin pie!
If you have any other recommendations, please feel free to add them to this post.
— Michael Schiaparelli