Thanksgiving Wine Picks

The Thanksgiving table is a smorgasbord of foods and flavors and family members. And it is worthy of some delicious wine picks as well. There are a few paths to go down, depending on when you eat, how many people you eat with and your preference for food or drink calories. A few scenarios to consider.

Rieslings and Beaujolais. These are the classic matches for the Thanksgiving day flavors. Plus, Riesling is perfect if you eat your Turkey meal mid-day and want to stay awake for football and movie theatre trips later on. Many are low in alcohol, which will help you revive yourself from the turkey coma to take your niece or nephew out to play or join Uncle Joe on the couch for a beer and football. Beaujolais is a great match due to its high acidity and light fruit flavors. Some perfect picks because they taste great and will complement rather than overtake the meal are:

Eroica Riesling – I am particularly fond of this wine as it is the wine I was pouring when I met my husband and the wine (well, one of the wines) we poured at our wedding. It is light, crisp and floral, yet with an intensity that will heighten the food experience. It has ripe stone fruits and a zesty acidity that lingers on the palate.

Duboeuf Fleurie Domaine des Quatre Vents 2008 – This is classic Beaujolias – crushed red berries, excellent acidity and a great finish. Perfect match for the sweets and spices that come on the table. Terribly refreshing.

Mild whites and Smooth reds. Got a big family? With one aunt who only drinks white wines and an uncle who will only drink Merlot? Go with what I call the “inoffensive” wines, which are wines that are lovely and delicious, but without anything too “big” to make them stand out. A few picks are white Rhone blends and Pinot Blanc for whites, and Merlot and some red Rhone blends for the reds.

Perrin Reserve Cotes du Rhone Blanc 2008 – one of my favorite all-around whites, sure to please almost any white wine lover and the price rocks – under $10. Well-balanced with ripe stone fruits and bright acidity.

Columbia Crest Grand Estates Merlot 2006 – Classic Merlot – smooth and supple, with black fruits and mild tannins. Great for the table for an easy-drinking red. A great deal at about $12.

All American. Want to drink American wines for an American holiday? There are some great ones out there that will hold up to Thanksgiving dinner. Zinfandel is a classic match. Two styles to go with – jammy and luscious or spicy and structured.

For the first, try 7 Deadly Zins, the second style, go with Kenwood’s Jack London Zinfandel – both are under $20.

Classy and Versatile. For those of you who want delicious, classic wines with your dinner because this is a dinner like any other that you want to celebrate in style, go with Burgundian style whites and Pinot Noir.

Joseph Drouhin Clos des Mouches Premier Cru Blanc 2006 – decadent and delicious, this is an amazing Chardonnay. Supple and creamy texture, bright citrus fruits and crisp apple, will be the star white wine of your table.

Argyle Reserve Pinot Noir 2006 – spice and fruit combine to make an elegant and seductive Pinot Noir. I love Argyle wines and this ‘06 vintage is simply delicious…

Still deciding on our part what to put on our table, though we’ve tasted some great wines recently. Check out our Thanksgiving Wine Guide for more wine ideas. What are your favorite matches?

Champagne style Prosecco?

ninoLast night I had the pleasure of tasting the Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco. Again. I previously opened it on Sunday evening for a few reasons. First, to entice my husband to do a few more “honey-dos” around the house after a very hectic weekend, and second, I was looking for a bubbly buzz. It was successful on both parts! Last night, I opened the remaining half bottle, which had been saved with my favorite Champagne stopper, while doing some computer work. This time, I was less concerned about my bubbly buzz and in-between typing really got to taste the wine.

Originating in the Veneto region of Italy, Prosecco is named for the grape from which it is produced, the wine it creates, and the DOC in Italy from which it hails. Prosecco is a delightful wine, typically made in the tank method, which is different from the method used for wines from Champagne, or the traditional method, as it's called. It shows lots of upfront fruit and usually lacks the typical characteristics common to Champagne and wines made in that style. The Nino Franco, however, is different… I still get the fruit aspect, but also with a lovely crisp, citrus background, with good bubble persistence and a nice, lingering finish. This is a delicious sparkling wine – it is Prosecco, but with an “I can be like Champagne, too” attitude. Good stuff. Enjoy. 

Rhônes that Rock

It’s Rhone month! For a few reasons – first, November is Rhône month for our wine clubs and we’ve been tasting some of the delicious wines cdr logogoing out in the club shipments and I promise, if you are a wine club member, you will be pleased. Second, it’s the time of year for Rhône wines. The cooler temperatures and the warm wines are an excellent pair. And finally, on a personal note, my mom just passed her Rhône Master Level exam through the French Wine Society – one of only 10 who received scores over 80%! So, in honor of our  wine club theme AND Mom, here are a few Rhônes that rock.

Côtes-du-Ventoux – A couple of our wines in the wine clubs this month are from the Cotes-du-Ventoux. And I’m officially a fan! I’ve tasted the La Vielle Ferme Cotes-du-Ventoux before and for $8, it's hard to beat. But after expanding my Ventoux repertoire, I get excited laVFerme about this region. A fairly large area situated on the east bank of the Rhône river, this is what I’d call and up-and-coming region, though they’ve been making wine there for centuries. I say up-and-coming because more merchants/producers in the Rhône getting this juice in bottles that are making it out of the country. The wines are similar to Côtes-du-Rhône – based on Grenache and blended with Syrah, Mourvedre and Cinsault (they also use Carignan here). Taste is similar to Côtes-du-Rhône wines as well, though the Ventoux wines are a bit fuller-bodied and seem richer on the palate – a bit more savory if you will. The majority of the wines here are red, though they do make some refreshing whites and some tasty rose. Delas, La Vielle Ferme and Chateau Pesquie – all are fantastic wines and values.

Vinsobres – A newly appointed “cru,” Vinsobres was upgraded from a Côtes-du-Rhône Villages to its own appellation in 2005. 50% Grenache is required in the blend. We tasted the Perrin & Fils Vinsobres Les Cornuds 2006 recently and it was excellent… Warm and inviting, dark red fruits, dried herbs, excellent balance of acid and tannin, long finish. What  you love about Rhône wines is in this bottle.

cos de nimes

Costières de Nîmes– Another “up-and-coming” region, this area is on the other side of the Rhône– the right bank. It’s making reds and whites, but what stand out to me are the delicious white blends from here. Grenache Blanc, Roussanne and Marsanne – the usual suspects for making Rhône whites. But he ones I’ve tasted have a higher proportion of Roussanne, the delicate, highly aromatic grape of the region. This in turn leads to wonderfully aromatic wine with a full mouthfeel and lingering finish. Reds and rose wine are also great in these parts.

St. Joseph – St.Joseph, on the right bank of the Rhône River on the north side. 100% Syrah, making a wine with excellent structure. The ones I have tasted a bit less abrasive than the more edgy Cornas. These wines offer big, black fruits and lots of peppery spice, with an excellent tannic structure and a quite a finish. If you’re looking for something to pair with game, hearty stews or a hard cheese, these wines are a great match. Guigal makes excellent St.Joseph wines, but for value, try the Delas or the St. Cosme.


Interested in learning more about the Rhone? Visit

Halloween Worthy Labels


It is Halloween! Time to get spooky and scary. We’ve got just the wine to do it with, too. Some very Halloween style labels to get you started for the holiday. 

evilEvil – great label for easy-drinking Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay from Australia.

diablo Casillero del Diablo from Concha y Toro – Meaning, “Cellar of the Devil",” these are fantastic wines from Chile – the Sauvignon Blanc and Carmenere are particularly good values. And the Reserva Privada tastes like a $30 wine for only $15! Great fall wines.

tj wild witch Trevor Jones Wild Witch Shiraz 2005 – Go Wild Witch – Trevor Jones makes excellent wine and this Shiraz is a full-bodied treat – rich, ripe, dense… it’s a big wine, but with lovely structure. Well done.

dead arm d'Arenberg The Dead Arm Shiraz 2005 – Such a killer deal right now! $35 for a $65 wine. This is one of my favorite wines from Australia. Very concentrated and dense,  but with excellent backbone. Awesome wine for the price we have it right now and it’s a perfect wine for winter – warms the soul. Stock up!

devil Devils Lair Margaret River Chardonnay 2006 – Classic Chardonnay from Margaret River, mineral driven acidity balanced by ripe fruits. Devilishly good.

zins7 Deadly Zins Zinfandel 2007 – a sinful pleasure! BIG fruit, sweet oak and silky smooth tannins. Easy drinking wine for Halloween.

What are you favorite Halloween wine labels?

Tasting the Kenwood Artist Series

Last night I had the pleasure of tasting the 2004 Kenwood Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon. Excellent wine. Excellent story.

The Story Behind the Wine:  Each year, a different artist draws the label for Kenwood’s Artist Series, hence the name Artist Series. For the 2004 vintage, a man named Shepard Fairey kenwood labelwas chosen to draw the label. You may recognize the name – Fairey is the man responsible for taking an existing photo of Barack Obama and putting it in color, creating the iconic HOPE poster that became synonymous with the campaign. He is hailed as one of the most influential “street artists” of our time. The label he created for the Artist Series portrays a “Peace Woman.” Says Kenwood, “the "Peace Woman" is a symbolic representation of the peaceful, nurturing side of humanity. Fairey feels that the female trait of empathy should be embraced to maintain a balanced society.” Sounds good to me! 

The Wine: The 2004 marks the 30th release of the Artist Series from Kenwood, which is a blend of the best lots of Cabernet Sauvignon from the vintage, with 3% of Malbec mixed into the blend this year. Almost 80% of the grapes hail from Sonoma Valley, the remainder coming from Dry Creek Valley. The wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks and receives 30 months of barrel aging. It hangs out in bottle another year and a half before release. Those are the technical details, now for the taste.

Deep garnet color, with concentrated ripe blackberry, current and some vanilla on the nose. While rich normally describes texture and mouthfeel, I couldn’t help but want to label the aromas as rich. Kind of like blackberry pie. Drinking it confirmed all in the nose, as well as a touch of cedar. Tannins were ripe and silky and the finish lingering. Good structure and intense, but not one I’d throw in the cellar for very long. Everything was so silky smooth already, I didn’t get that extra kick behind the structure that suggests improvement with significant cellar age. Though it could easily withstand a few more years in the cellar, I don’t know how much it would change, or if I would like it better after cellar evolution. Which is not necessarily a bad thing! It’s a drink-it-now style of Cabernet. And it paired great with my steak.

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