Three party-friendly wines for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is around the corner (two days, to be exact), and I’m feverishly trying to figure out which wines I want to take to my in-laws for the big dinner. I’m a red drinker, but not everyone likes red, and all the experts say you’re supposed to drink white with poultry. To make everyone happy, I’m taking one of each. dreaming tree

The red choice was easy. I love Crush, a red blend by Dreaming Tree Wines. This is Dave Matthews’ vin-venture with veteran winemaker Steve Reeder, and they knock it out of the park. (is there anything that man can’t do?) I love Reeder’s philosophy: “I make wines for people to drink. I don’t make wines for people to put into their cellar.” Crush is so drinkable, I know that anyone in my eclectic group coming together this Thanksgiving will enjoy it. I won’t have to worry that it’s too tannic, or too sweet, or too… red. It’s the perfect easy-drinking red.a bottle of each. (for my first review of Crush, read here)

The white choice was a little harder, mostly because I don’t drink much white wine. I’m pretty picky with my whites, but I guess that means that if I bring a white wine that I like, there’s a good chance that everyone will like it. I’m pretty hard to please. Image

I recently sampled a rose’ by Sequin Wines and have a bottle of the winery’s pinot grigio at the ready. I opened it tonight and think it will make an excellent choice for Thanksgiving dinner. Sequin wines are “delicately bubbled” and have just a touch of fizz on the pour. The carbonation is so light, it’s just a breath of fizz on the tongue. Don’t worry, you won’t be taking up valuable real estate in your belly before the turkey arrives. Sequin pinot grigio is sweet, but not syrupy or heavy. It would balance nicely with a roasted turkey and green bean casserole (can you tell which dishes are my favorite?).

Party bonus: The Sequin website has some great recipes to turn their wine into festive party drinks. (hello, “Sequini”!)

Because Sequin isn’t readily available in every region, I’m suggesting an alternative for your white wine: 14 Hands Chardonnay.

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I know that some chardonnays can be heavy and oaky, and that is NOT what you want for this National Day of Eating. But 14 Hands is wonderfully versatile – a balanced blend of floral and fruity. It has touches of apple and pear with a hint of green grass and fresh flowers. 14 Hands can be found in most grocery stores with a decent wine aisle, and is priced around $15. (I reviewed it here.)

Whatever your plans are this Thanksgiving, may your day be filled with gratitude… and a healthy pour of great wine!

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2009 Climber Red

I saved my 2009 Clif Climber Red and Climber Sauvignon Blanc for Thanksgiving to go with my quasi-sustainable meal. I won’t repeat all my reasons for why the Climbers were a great fit for the meal, all the reasons like how the winery sources its grapes from local, organic growers, and how the winery is activly reducing its carbon footprint. You can read all about that on the Clif website, but now let’s get to the to fun part — tasting the wine!

I know that white wines go best with turkey, but I’m such a sucker for reds. So I gave hearty thanks for the folks at Clif Winery, and I twisted open the Climber Red. The aroma is fruity and slightly peppery. The blend is primarily zinfandel, then cabernet, rounded out with syrah, merlot and petite sirah. The flavor is a nice, round berry — not jammy or sweet, but perfectly tart, fresh and mild — with a smoky finish. The smoke isn’t quite as prominent as in the 2008 blend; rather than making a strong statement, it is now a barely-there nuance in a very complex wine.

Clif hasn’t let me down yet, so I will surely continue to seek their every release with excitement. At $14.99, it’s a wine I’ll proudly serve to guests — guests who know their wine and guests who just want something that tastes good. It’s a sure-bet wine, and this busy mom can’t afford to waste time on anything less.

Thanksgiving

The turkey and blueberry cobbler, ready to go. Everything else is still in the oven.

My quasi-sustainable Thanksgiving was more quasi than sustainable, but a fun attempt at buying local and/or organic. The veggies were all organic, and the turkey all-natural, hormone-free. The pumpkin pie was made from homegrown pumpkin (from my grandparents’ garden), and the blueberry cobbler was made from blueberries we picked at a family farm in Oregon and then froze.

Several family members asked what “quasi-sustainable” means, and I have to admit, I use the term “sustainable” very loosely. Actually, I use it pretty inaccurately, but it sums up an overall attempt at being sustainable. For me, that attempt is basically to buy local when possible, buy organic when possible, and use our own garden goods when possible. For Thanksgiving, I was thrilled to use herbs from my own garden and to easily find organic produce at a minimal increase in cost.

I’m not a health freak or crunchy organic goddess. I just like to balance convenience and health. I try to use whole wheat flour and pasta when it’s a comparable price to white versions. I try to support local farmers by buying produce at farmers’ markets. But I also have to keep my budget and time in mind. So it’s a balancing act, as most mom-duties are. I’ll tell all about the wine in the next post. Stay tuned…

Almost-organic Thanksgiving

This Thanksgiving I’m staying home and cooking dinner just for my husband and kids. No relatives, no friends… more leftovers!

I’m trying to keep it organic and/or local, but bearing in mind that I have limited time and limited budget. As much as I would have loved to sign up for a fresh, free-range turkey from the local co-op, a $50 bird just isn’t in my financial forecast.

Raley’s has natural, fresh, no-additives turkeys for $.89/pound, so I picked a 14-pounder for under $15. Tomorrow I will go to the co-op to stock up on all the veggies and other ingredients for the rest of the meal: potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, mushrooms, onions, celery, eggs, butter and bread, as well as dry and canned goods.

As much as I love the idea of being totally organic, free-range, sustainable, etc., it’s not realistic for a busy working mom on a budget in a small town, or not for this busy, working mom at least. But I think everyone can do their part, so this Thanksgiving meal is my way of doing my part.

Oh, and the wine! I’ll be pouring Clif 2009 The Climber Red and The Climber Sauvignon Blanc. Clif has earned my respect for doing its part too. Producing entirely organic wines isn’t realistic for the family-run winery yet, but the farm (they raise chickens, olives, fruits and veggies too!) became CCOF certifed organic in 2009. The grapes are sourced locally and from sustainable vineyards — 30 percent of the grapes are from CCOF certified farms — and the farm and winery have a carbon-offset program to put their money where their mouth is. They don’t just admire organic and sustainable farming, but they actively strive to achieve it.

It’s appropriate, then, for me to pour Clif wines as part of my semi-organic/sustainable dinner. I know my efforts are meager, but it’s a manageable start for me. And we all have to start somewhere.

(I’ve tasted and reviewed the Clif 2008 Climber White in March and the Climber Red in April. I already know I like the wine, I can’t wait to try the 2009!)