Thanksgiving strikes fear in just about every host.
Preparing a giant bird is a herculean task. Cooking gravy, stuffing and cranberry sauce is always more complicated than expected. Then there’s the anxiety of any family gathering — will politics or off-color jokes derail the dinner?
Add wine to the list of things to worry about, and it’s no wonder why so many wonderful at-home chefs dread the holiday.
Keep calm. With wine, at least, there’s no need to stress.
First, buy American. While I typically avoid jingoism, purchasing a foreign wine on Thanksgiving just doesn’t seem right. So when you head to the store, embrace your patriotism and pick up something domestic. And don’t hesitate to buy local. The Pilgrims didn’t import their turkey from a faraway land.
Second, follow the strategy of San Francisco Chronicle wine editor Jon Bonné, who advises his readers to select a roster of three wines — one white, one red and one sparkling.
Anything beyond three wines creates needless confusion. Thanksgiving already causes enough headaches — the last thing you need is a guest asking which red matches the stuffing or which white goes better with the sweet potatoes. So keep it simple and let guests drink whichever wine they prefer.
You’ll also want to make sure you select wines with power and finesse. This is easier than it sounds.
A simple Pinot Grigio, for example, isn’t a powerful wine — so won’t stand up to mashed potatoes and gravy. Equally important, an in-your-face Cabernet Sauvignon lacks finesse, so will smother your food. Look for refreshing wines with body.
For the sparkler, this means avoiding bottles that are too sweet — look for “brut” or “extra brut” on the label. Old standbys like Domaine Chandon are better than ever before, and these days, there are some exciting sparklers coming from states outside California. If you can find them, consider Gruet from New Mexico, Thibaut Janisson from Virginia or Argyle from Oregon.
For the white wine, remember to look for body.
Bold Chardonnays work well with turkey and can cut through just about every component of your meal — from sweet flavors like cinnamon to the bitterness of green vegetables.
If you’re looking for something a bit unusual, consider a Riesling, either dry or slightly sweet. New York has been producing high quality Riesling for more than 30 years, ever since German immigrant Hermann Weimer “discovered that the cool climate and gravelly soils of the Finger Lakes were similar to his family’s vineyards in the Mosel Valley.”
Producers in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Michigan are also making some stunning Riesling.
White wines inspired by France’s Rhone Valley also make for a good match on Thanksgiving. Look for Viognier, Marsanne, Roussanne or a blend with those grapes.
With reds, think refreshment. This means avoiding wines with lots of tannin, so steer clear of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Malbec. It also means finding a wine with vibrant acidity, so avoid anything described as heavy or full-bodied.
Pinot Noir is the most popular choice on Thanksgiving, but it’s difficult to find a good one for less than $20. That’s why cool-climate Syrah or Grenache is a better bet. Both are fruity enough to satisfy the guests who like big reds, and elegant enough to handle the cornucopia of Thanksgiving. Just be sure to find one from a cool-climate region like Washington or California’s coastal regions. Anything from a warm climate could overpower your food.
If you’re looking for something a bit unusual, consider a Blaufrankisch, Austria’s signature red wine. It’s similar in profile to Pinot Noir, but generally a darker and spicier. New York’s Red Tail Ridge makes one that’s worth finding. Gamay Noir, the grape of Beaujolais, is also a good match. A few producers in Oregon, California and New York are making delightful wines from this grape.
Finally, and most importantly, have lots of wine on hand!
DAVID WHITE, a wine writer, is the founder and editor of Terroirist.com. His columns are housed at Wines.com, the fastest growing wine portal on the Internet.
Thanksgiving strikes fear in just about every host.
Delectable dessert indulgences
Dessert is an indulgence, and when you delight in the taste, texture and aroma of a decadent sweet treat, you savor every bite. It is easy to get lost in the flavor and fragrance of rich chocolate or creamy caramel.
Simple weeknight suppers with pears
“Hectic family schedules don’t have to get in the way of serving up tasty and healthy weeknight dinners,” explains leading nutrition expert, cookbook author and television star Ellie Krieger, author of “Weeknight Wonders: Delicious, Healthy Dinners in 30 Minutes or Less.”
Edmond’s ‘Biggest Loser’ moves to final round
Edmond’s David Brown has reached one more plateau in his quest to lose weight. Tuesday the announcement was made that he had made it to the final three in The Biggest Loser contest.
The season’s three finalists who will weigh-in for the $250,000 grand prize and the title of “The Biggest Loser” during next week’s live finale broadcast include: Brown, a 43-year-old construction company project manager and phone company social commerce leader, Bobby Saleem, a 28-year-old attorney from Chicago, Ill.; and Rachel Frederickon, a 24-year-old voice-over artist from Los Angeles, Calif.
In the end, Rachel finished in first place with a time of one hour and 32 minutes in the Triathlon. She was immune from elimination at the upcoming weigh-in. Brown finished second.
Brown said the most nerve wracking part was the weigh-in because he always weighed in last.
Brown said the hardest work he did was emotional. “From week to week I was having to confront and overcome different fears,” Brown said. “I was pushing myself every day to the utmost limits. When you are at the end of your rope physically you have to deal with your emotions. I was journaling and praying a lot.”
Game day party tips for football fans
Entertaining this football season? To make your gatherings memorable, you’ll need to do more than just turn on the game and hope for the best. With the right party plays, you can treat your guests to a spirited game day and a memorable football feast.
Try incorporating these game changing ideas into your regular party playbook:
Celebrating balance in Pinot Noir
“If a Pinot Noir is overwhelmed with fruit — or, indeed, by any element, like oak, fruit extraction, fruit ripeness, or alcohol — you’re going to lessen the possibility that the wine can express essential place. And for me, Pinot Noir is all about essential place.”
If any grape demands contemplation, it’s Pinot Noir. The great ones translate time and place, clearly expressing the characteristics of their vintage and the soils and climate in which they’re grown.
How to make hearty winter dishes without meat
Want to add interesting taste, texture and depth to your cooking? Think mushrooms. Most varieties are available year-round.
Resolve to give your cooking a bold makeover in the new year
Bored with your everyday cooking? This New Year, resolve to give your meals an exuberant makeover. You won’t even need to look across an ocean for bold flavor inspiration from other cuisines. You can start at home, say experts.
“American cuisine has been crafted from the stupendous ingredients, flavors and dishes derived from all people who have stepped upon its shore — east to west, northern tip to southern gulf. All of it has merged into a single fabulous, kaleidoscopic menu,” said Susanna Hoffman, anthropologist and food writer and co-author of the new book, “Bold: A Cookbook of Big Flavors.”
McCormick announces top flavors and food trends for 2014 and beyond
Marking its 125th year as a food industry innovator, McCormick & Company, Incorporated kicked off a yearlong celebration of the tastes that bring us together with the unveiling of its McCormick® Flavor Forecast® 2014: 125th Anniversary Edition.
Annual gingerbread house contest
Spread holiday cheer by making a gingerbread house this year. The Edmond Historical Society & Museum invites residents to enter into the fifth annual Gingerbread House Contest at 2 p.m. Dec. 14. Ages 5 and older are welcome to participate.
Gingerbread House Contest Rules:
• Ages 5-11, Ages 12-17, 18 and older
• Must be made out of edible materials
• Placed on 18-inch by 18-inch or smaller board
• No gingerbread kits (but you may use graham crackers)
• Participation is free, pre-registration is required
• Bring gingerbread house to the Edmond Historical Society & Museum between the dates of Dec. 10-13.
Judges will present first, second and third place awards in each age category. Judges will be looking for:
Edmond reminds residents of proper disposal of ‘FOG’
The City of Edmond’s FOG program helps homeowners learn to properly dispose of fats, oils and grease.
“These few simple tips will help you avoid a sewer back-up in your home. Not only is a sewer back-up unpleasant and unsanitary, the clean-up can cost thousands of dollars and your homeowner’s insurance may not cover the cost” said Casey Moore, public information officer.
Fats, oils and grease eventually become solid rather than liquid and the grease will stick to the sides of sewer pipes and clog them. This can cause a back-up and an overflow in your home, or into the streets and streams.
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