Thankful For Choice

Don’t worry, this is not the 400 page rebuttal to Sarah Palin’s new book (although given the time that has passed since the last post you would think that I have been working on it).

I once had a Master Sommelier tell me that the most important thing about food and wine pairing is to “have fun with it.” I am not going to name names because I don’t want him to lose his lapel pin or be tarred and feathered by a group of rabid foodies, but I think he is right. I think in many cases we take food and wine pairing way too seriously and there is no better illustration than the Thanksgiving feast.

Imagine if you walked into Jean Georges and the menu said “Warm Green Apple Asparagus Salad with Goat Cheese Gnocchi, Roasted Veal, Gulf Shrimp, Grilled Beef Tenderloin and Rhubarb, green tea pudding.” Would you sit down, order that plate and await the sommelier’s arrival to make the perfect pairing? Of course not!! There is way too much going on with that plate. When food and wine pairing is at its finest, or when food is at its finest for that matter, they are presented in small separate courses.

Since most people pile their plates sky high with ten different things on Thanksgiving there is no point in obsessing about the perfect wine to drink (because chances are there isn’t one). Tomorrow, I will be thankful for the incredible breadth of options available to us. Here are just a few choices:

Anything from the 2007 Southern Rhone vintage!! Parker called this the best vintage he has ever tasted in any region of the world and gave out 95 plus scores like wet naps at a BBQ joint. If this is the time of the year that you splurge, you can break out the Chateauneuf du Papes (just make sure you break out the decanter long before). The Cotes du Rhone reds represent one of the great values in the wine world in this vintage. The best producers have overachieved and even some of the more mediocre producers didn’t screw up this amazing fruit.

Oregon Pinot Noir. If you like the power of bold fruit, ripe tannins and higher alcohol levels, look to 2004 or 2006. If you prefer the elegance of fresh fruit, high acid, lower alcohol levels and lighter body look to the underrated 2007 vintage or 2008, which many are saying may shape up to be the vintage of the decade.

Is there anything to avoid? It depends on your taste. I don’t like drinking heavy Zinfandel, Cabernet or Shiraz at Thanksgiving. It has nothing to do with pairing and more to do with weight. I am inevitably going to eat six pounds of food and I don’t need to pour a heavy wine on top of that. But that is just me. There is nothing wrong with any of these choices as far as food harmony goes.

So if your family is anything like mine, the important question is not do I have the right wine for Thanksgiving but do I have enough wine for Thanksgiving!

Happy holidays to you & yours!!

Will Sugerman

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