John JuergensHoliday Madness

Well, it looks like the holidays are already upon us again. I noticed advertising and decorations are a week earlier than last year, and so, the madness begins. Therefore, it must be time for my annual recommendations for wines to go with your Thanksgiving dinner.

There are loads of new wines in most markets that are good quality, easy to drink, and inexpensive. Some of my favorite white wines include, French Vouvray; Italian Frascati; French, Australian, or California Chardonnay; Washington State or Italian Pinot Grigio; Californian Sauvignon Blanc; and any Riesling from the West Coast. Not too picky, am I?

For red wines consider a French Beaujolais Village; a red Zinfandel from California; any wine from the Rhone Valley in France; or an Australian Shiraz. If you like red wines, you probably won't go wrong serving a Pinot Noir with your bird. Pinot also goes well with ham if you go that route. You can find good wine quality and value in any of these wines that should be available in most markets.

Another wine you might want to check out is the Beaujolais Nouveau. This is the legendary red party wine that the French release on November 18 of each year. The wine is only about a month old and is meant to celebrate the end of the harvest. It is a light, simple wine with loads of fruity aromas that can appeal to all sorts of palates and it goes down easily...unlike some other French exports.

Beaujolais Nouveau has become somewhat of a cult wine and there are contests all over the world to see who can get the first taste of the wine when it is released for sale at midnight on November 17. I've heard stories in years past that some people actually had chartered airplanes warmed up and waiting at French airports to whisk the wine to the far corners of the earth as quickly as it could be loaded onto the plane. Sounds like a great story that ought to be true even if it isn't.

One word of caution if you go to check out the Beaujolais Nouveau. Make sure you get the 1999 batch -I don't believe this wine deserves the term "vintage" -- and not a bottle left over from last year. This stuff rarely sells out in most markets and some of the old stuff could accidentally find its way onto the shelf.

Instead of rambling on with a lot of discussion, I thought I would just give you a list of dos and don'ts when selecting and serving your wine.

  1. As I have mentioned in the past, do not serve Merlot with your turkey; it results in a foul, metallic taste that is difficult to eradicate from your tongue.
  2. Try to have more than one kind of wine so that you can cover the range of preferences and food flavors.
  3. Do not stick your white or red wine in the refrigerator or the freezer and serve it so cold that it comes out of the bottle in frozen chucks or a slush and has no taste.
  4. Do serve your red wines just slightly cool, but not refrigerator cold. The bottle should be just cool to the touch.
  5. Do serve your white wines at about 50 degrees Fahrenheit. This would be about an hour or so in the refrigerator starting from about 70 degrees.
  6. If you mess up the cork, go ahead and push it into the bottle. I found that a chopstick works well. If you are embarrassed to serve the wine with the cork floating in the bottle like a little life raft, pour the wine off through a fine strainer to catch all the small pieces of cork and serve the wine in an elegant crystal pitcher. Then tell your guests you always serve your wine this way, don't they?
  7. Do not get hung up on whether you are serving the right kind of wine with your meal. Serve whatever you like and let other people bring their own if they don't like you choices.
  8. Remember, a meal with just about any wine is better than one without wine.

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