30 Second Wine Advisor: Heritage holidays

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In This Issue

 Heritage holidays
Our annual review of wines for Thanksgiving and the winter holidays suggests going back to one's roots for a taste of heritage at the family banquet table.
 30 Second Wine Advisor - The book!
Quite a few of you have asked me, "Why don't you assemble a bunch of these articles into a handy learn-about-wine book?" Great idea! Here it is, just in time for holiday giving.
 The California Wine Club
A California Tour in a Glass: Try The California Wine Club now and start your California Wine Adventure with two unique wines from Ten Mile!
 Gianfranco Alessandria 2006 Dolcetto d'Alba ($12.99)
Deep black fruit and earth, stony and loamy; black plums shaped by the firm, fine-grained tannic astringency that is Dolcetto's trademark.
 This week on WineLoversPage.com
Randy Buckner presents 100 new wines for the holidays, and John Juergens offers consumer advice on "bogus" wine gizmos. Our Internet Radio TalkShoe moves back to Monday, Dec. 26, when we'll talk about Beaujolais. The WineLovers Discussion Group kicks around suggestions for inexpensive Turkey Day wines; and our CompuServe forum poll asks about your favorite wines to go with the holiday feast.
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Heritage holidays

Autumn has finally arrived, the Canadian Thanksgiving feast has come and gone, and many of us are loosening our belts in anticipation of Thanksgiving Day in the U.S. this week, with the Christmas season and all the world's winter holiday feasts soon to follow.

With the annual call, "Gentlefolks, preheat your ovens" ringing in the crisp autumn air, I've heard the seasonal question, "What wine should we serve with roast turkey?" so many times that I've pretty much simmered my standard response down to a concise summation:

 DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE. Turkey is a tough match, because it offers both white meat (often bland and sometimes dry) and dark meat (rich, earthy and gamey, distinctly my preference) on the same bird, and it's hard to find a single wine to match them both. Simply set up something extra-special to celebrate the holiday. Don't fret about perfection in wine-and-food pairing for this feast; just enjoy the holiday with an exceptional wine for its own sake.

 NOT EITHER-OR BUT BOTH-AND. It's a celebratory feast! Throw caution to the winds and open both a red and a white, offering each guest the option to pick the wine of preference ... or take two glasses and enjoy a little of each.

 FOLLOW THE CRANBERRY SAUCE RULE. If you really want to try for a complementary pairing, think about cranberry sauce, the traditional condiment with turkey, and seek wines that show a similar flavor profile: fruity, tart but smooth. This leads us to Riesling, Gewurztraminer or Chenin Blanc for the white; Pinot Noir or Beaujolais for the red. In fact, you might consider the seasonal Beaujolais Nouveau. Although some wine "geeks" dismiss it as too simple and frivolous, in many ways Beaujolais Nouveau is ideal for holiday feasts. It's seasonal, it's fresh, and it's fruity, and it will quaff well enough with light and dark meat, and maybe the dressing and sweet potatoes, too.

 CELEBRATE YOUR FAMILY HERITAGE. Some wine enthusiasts feel that Thanksgiving - tracing its inspiration back to the Pilgrims' first harvest feast - should be celebrated with an American wine. Maybe. I don't find most modern Zinfandels with their high alcohol and blockbuster fruit a great match with turkey, though. The American native grape Norton is an interesting possibility, but rare and hard to find. And Concord and its native wild-grape cousins? Fahgeddit. I suggest, rather, looking back to the Old Country and celebrating this American holiday with a salute to our family roots. If you're a "Heinz 57 Varieties" American like me, this opens up a wide variety of choices.

In a weekend test run, using a roasted turkey thigh as the basis for tasting, I went with the Italian option and, after a little experimentation with Langhe Nebbiolo, came up with Dolcetto as a reasonable choice. Although the frequent comparison of Dolcetto to Beaujolais is erroneous, I found the deep, dark plummy fruit and loamy earthiness of today's tasting, along with its distinct tannic texture, worked very well indeed with dark turkey meat in a leftovers dish.

30 Second Wine Advisor - The book!

The 30 Second Wine Advisor

Over the years, quite a few of you have asked me, "Why don't you assemble a bunch of these articles into a handy learn-about-wine book?"

As I announced in Friday's edition, now, just in time for holiday gift-giving, we've published The 30 Second Wine Advisor: Learn about wine in 30-second tastes - quick, easy & fun."

As the name implies, the book - like this column - breaks wine appreciation down into short, informative articles. Each article doesn't take long to read, but taste by taste, day by day, they build your wine knowledge and enhance your confidence in the sometimes daunting world of fine wine. What's more, your purchase will help support this column and all of WineLoversPage.com, for which you have my grateful thanks.

The 30 Second Wine Advisor is now available in paperback for $19.95, only from Amazon.com. Click to place your order:

Gianfranco Alessandria 2006 Dolcetto d'Alba ($12.99)

Gianfranco Alessandria

Very dark reddish-purple, almost black, clear garnet at the edge. Deep black fruit and earth, subtle mineral scents that evoke damp stones and black loam. Black plums on the palate, fresh and dry, shaped by the firm, fine-grained tannic astringency that is Dolcetto's trademark, a textural component that seems to work particularly well with turkey dark meat. U.S. importer: Vanguard Wines LLC, Columbus, Ohio. (Nov. 18, 2007)

FOOD MATCH: Leftover turkey dark meat, cubed and browned, cooked with fresh broccoli and a dash of cumin in a simple pilaf.

VALUE: Comparative shopping on Wine-Searcher.com suggests I got a bargain for a change: Excellent value in the lower teens, fairly priced at its more frequent tag in the middle teens.

WHEN TO DRINK: I've had little success aging Dolcetto, which seems to lose its fruit and go to 100 percent earth after two or three years. Drink up this year or next.

"Dolcetto d'Alba" = "Dol-CHET-toe DAHL-bah"

The Gianfranco Alessandria Web page appears to detect your location and returns a page in (mostly) English if you sign on from an English-speaking Internet provider. If you want to go back to the Italian page, click the small Italian flag at upper right. To read about today's wine, click "Our Wines" from the home page, then "Dolcetto d'Alba."

Compare prices and find online vendors for Alessandria Dolcetto on Wine-Searcher.com:

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Here's a simply formatted copy of today's Wine Advisor, designed to be printed out for your scrapbook or file or downloaded to your PDA or other wireless device.

This week on WineLoversPage.com

Bucko's Wine Reports: Tried and true
Thanksgiving is both fun and challenging because of the wide variety of foods and spices on the holiday table. In this report on 100 new wines, Randy "Bucko" Buckner offers tried and true wines for the holidays.

Oxford Town Wine: Stupid wine gizmos
It's catalog season, and vendors are hawking all manner of wine gizmos and accessories. Some are useful, but unfortunately, many of them are bogus. Writer John Juergens offers this candid appraisal.

Our Internet radio "TalkShoe": Beaujolais Nouveau: What's New?
The annual arrival of the Beaujolais Nouveau has come around again, and we'll cover this publicity event as well as talking about more "serious" Beaujolais in next week's Internet Radio TalkShoe, returning to its original schedule on Monday, Nov. 26, at noon US EDT (9 a.m. Pacific, 6 p.m. in Western Europe).
All our previous TalkShoes are available for listening or downloading from the archives!

WineLovers Discussion Group: Suggestions for inexpensive Turkey Day wines?
A forum participant asks for ideas for some fairly modest wines that would go well with a large Thanksgiving dinner party, and gets lots of advice. Read the discussion and add your own ideas in the WineLovers Discussion Group!

Netscape/Compuserve Community Poll: Wine choice with holiday turkey?
It's that time of year again when we start thinking about choosing a fine wine to go with roast turkey and other holiday fare. What's your pleasure? Share your preference, and talk about it, in this week's poll: Click here to vote:

Last Week's Wine Advisor Index

The Wine Advisor's daily edition is usually distributed on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (and, for those who subscribe, the FoodLetter on Thursdays). Here's the index to last week's columns:

 30 Second Wine Advisor - The book (Nov. 16, 2007)

 Another face of Sauvignon Blanc (Nov. 14, 2007)

 Can Cotes-du-Rhone age? (Nov. 12, 2007)

 Complete 30 Second Wine Advisor archive:

 Wine Advisor FoodLetter: Uptown shrimp and grits (Nov. 15, 2007)

 Wine Advisor Foodletter archive: