Every year I get e-mails from people asking what should be served to this group, that group, or at Thanksgiving dinner. My mantra in every season: Drink what you like. That being of no help at all, I will offer some cool ways to mix it up this holiday season. My general rules include picking wines that will please everyone (don’t just serve your favorites), staying within budget, and shying away from “showoff” wines, which can be great but are often too “big” or heavy for most guests.
This month’s selections are available at Cork Dork Wine, 4726 Cedar Ave. S., Mpls., 612-721-9463
Kungfu Girl Riesling 2008
(Columbia Valley, Washington), $12
A dry, light riesling works well with turkey. With crisp apple and pear notes on the nose, it will go with the entire Thanksgiving dinner. There is some body to this wine, but it isn’t overpowered by acid or sweetness.
Londer Vineyards Gewurztraminer 2007
(Anderson Valley, California), $16
This is Germany’s spicy wine, and it offers spice and honey flavors. Ham is popular during the holidays, and this wine, while being the most mispronounced on the planet, pairs nicely with a honey glaze.
Santa Ema Chardonnay 2007
(Casablanca Valley, Chile), $8
A crowd-pleasing white at a price you have to love. It has a little oak and butteriness in a California style, plus flavors of tropical fruit that evoke New Zealand sauvignon blanc. You can pour it all night for a large group and make everyone happy.
Montoya Pinot Noir 2008
(Monterey, California), $13
Here is your host or hostess gift for the season. Pinot is trendy, and this one is bright and full of berry fruit that will add to any evening. It’s hard to find a pinot that delivers and is on budget. This does both. Try it with goose or salmon to mix things up.
Viña Alarba Old Vine Grenache 2007
(Calatayud, Spain), $10
This is your party red. It’s full-flavored with dark cherry notes, yet soft on the palate, so you can sip it all evening, even without food. It will please California cabernet and Australian shiraz partisans.
Feraud Brunel Côtes du Rhône Villages 2005
(Rhone, France), $18
Here is a special wine to go with red meat during holiday dinner. The “Villages” designation is just a step above regular Côtes du Rhône and worth the extra $6. Earthy, lush, and full of herbs, this wine begs for lamb or herb-roasted pork.