One of the nice things about living in England is that I don’t feel compelled to roast a turkey every Thanksgiving. If you believe, as I do, that eating turkey is like kissing your aunt or listening to a whole Barry Manilow album, the question of making a wine match with it doesn’t come up too often. When it’s my turn to host Christmas, we have goose or duck, which would probably have been the national choice if the Puritans hadn’t been such bad shots.
       Anyway, as many of you will be going with Barry regardless,  here are some wine thoughts,
 offered sincerely. You have to play the cards you’ve been dealt, after all. The usual advice is to say that turkey is versatile, so lots of different wines go with it. This is a cop-out, like saying Tom Cruise is energetic and well-spoken and could therefore play Shakespeare. Turkey is not versatile, turkey is bland. Even Chenin Blanc can wrestle it to the ground. But basically, forget white wine--when combined with turkey it’s like modern-art videos, something that leaves you scratching your head, vaguely distracted, and wondering what you’re doing here.
       As so often with almost all food, it’s got to be red, and the answer, as it is so often, is Pinot Noir, which is basically Nature’s way of telling you that combining wine and food is a really good idea. It’s a great dancer, light and stylish, and like any great dancer it makes its partners look good. There’s certainly a limit to how elegant a turkey can get, but it will be much improved and almost refined if it’s next to the Fred Astaire of wine (of course, it’s even better with duck or goose, but I’ll try to keep to the point here). The black-cherry, power-with-finesse, “iron fist in a velvet glove” aspect also fits in nicely with cranberry sauce, sage-oriented stuffing, mashed pumpkin, caramelized onions. . . I think I’m coming around, actually. You could have a good time. You could even have a good reason to celebrate.


Anonymous said...

I'll agree with pinor noir. It's the big thing in the red wine world right now. It used to be Pinot Noir from Oregon, but now California is producing it too. A few years ago, I was advised to try zinfandel with turkey, and I thought it a good partnership. This year the person I cook for has requested her favorite, leg of lamb, for Thanksgiving. I'm thinking a pinot noir for this, too. Have you a better idea?

Brian St. Pierre said...

Don't diss or miss Oregon Pinot Noir--elegance and Oregon may seem like an unlikely combination, but it's there (in Pinot Gris too, increasingly hard to find elsewhere). . . With lamb, especially roasted leg, whatever the spicing/flavoring, it's one of the few times Cabernet Sauvignon dovetails with food--well-aged is best, but probably hard to find or afford; pick your favorite and go for it. Merlot doesn't have the cojones (can I say that?), and Zinfandel's too sweet and overbearing. If you have the time and energy, remove the top bone from the leg (or butterfly it) and stuff the cavity with a mix of half-a-pound of feta cheese, some chopped rosemary, parsley, and garlic; it'll melt as the leg cooks and give you a dynamite, wine-boosting sauce.

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