I love Thanksgiving. But really, how could anyone not love Thanksgiving? 4-day weekend, non-religious and non-political holiday, family, friends, food and, of course, wine. Did I mention family? Anything cuter than 21 month old Zinnia helping her Bubie put the final glaze on the turkey?
Thanksgiving dinner is always interesting from a wine perspective because a) you can’t go wrong, b) you have guests over that appreciate the wine you’re going to serve, and c) you get to serve more than one bottle, allowing some fun wine comparisons. As Lori starts planning the food menu for Thanksgiving, I’m taking a trip into the wine cellar and planning the wine menu for appetizers, the main meal and dessert. I’ve gone in a variety of different directions for the main course in the past: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Syrah, even Zinfandel. That’s one of the things about the Thanksgiving meal and wine pairing: with the wide variety of flavors on the table, it’s hard to go wrong. (I will admit that I’ve never had Cabernet Sauvignon with Thanksgiving; not sure that Cab would work. A little bit too big of a wine.)
This year I went into the cellar and the Merlots jumped out at me. Merlots rarely jump out at me for any dinner, and I don’t have a huge selection, but there they were, begging for their opportunity to join the holiday party. OK, why not give it a try? Merlots can be very nice wines, with great flavor and balance and great with a meal. And not quite as big a wine as Cab, usually. I added to the Merlots a bottle of sparkling wine to start, plus some whites, and then some dessert wines.
The final lineup was
Bodkin Wines (non-vintage) Blanc de Sauvignon Blanc, Cuvée Januariis, Sandy Bend Vineyard, Lake County
Armida Winery 2010 Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Valley
Armida Winery 2012 Chardonnay, Durrell Vineyard, Sonoma Coast
Mitchell Katz Winery 2011 Merlot, Falling Star Vineyard, Livermore Valley
Deerfield Ranch Winery 2008 Merlot, Sonoma County
Meeker Vineyard 2004 Merlot, Sonoma County
Eagle Ridge Vineyard 2005 Mad Lyn (Souzao grapes), Carter Vineyard, Livermore Valley
Peller Estates, 2010 Cabernet Franc Icewine, Niagara Peninsula
Yes, we did decant all three Merlots. Nice decanters on the table to go with the beautiful dinner, plus it helped the wine. My personal favorite was the 2004 Meeker Merlot, but everyone had their own favorite.
Thanksgiving dinner had everything (the full 6-burners on the stove were in use, as were both ovens), and we’re still recovering from all that we ate. We hope you had a great Thanksgiving dinner too!