Here’s a primer on picking wines, along with a guide to sparkling additions to that uniquely American feast coming late this month
Choosing a wine for dinner, a party or general consumption is not that difficult. Whether you are budget conscious or not, trust yourself, but don’t be afraid to ask for advice from your friends or a reputable wine shop.
Generally, of course, you will serve red wine with meat and white with chicken or fish. However, I find myself deviating from that rule and serving red with fish and some whites with meat. After all, the Greeks have been doing this for centuries. Certain wines do accentuate the flavors of food. The combinations of spices used in cooking can and will influence the flavor profiles of wines.
Here is my basic Wine 101 Course:
1. Features presented by or through wine are: color; smell or nose (the aromas that awaken the senses); taste (flavors that are tasted and enhanced through the aroma).
2. Wine is red, white, rosé or bubbly
3. Wine is either dry, fruity or sweet
4. You like the wine or dislike it. And now for the hard part . . .
5. The reasons behind No. 4 will always have something to do with flavors of fruit, vegetable, herb, spice or mineral.
Once you have figured out what you smell or taste, find a credible wine shop and ask for guidance. I suggest you begin with a simple statement, such as, “I liked this particular wine because of this flavor,” or “I disliked this wine because of that flavor.” Based on that, the staff should be able to point out wines that would interest you.
There is not a right or wrong in wine selection. Drink what you like. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different wines. Trust yourself or a wine specialist who has given you advice. But by all means, do not let some pretentious wine snob ruin your quest for learning about wine. Like you, he or she also had to start from the beginning.
I believe in serving only American wines for this uniquely American feast, which includes a great variety of food. Bubbles are always a great start for this festive occasion. Here are three handcrafted sparkling wines from Washington state:
Blanc de Blanc Extra Brut is 100 percent chardonnay. This delicate, creamy wine offers hints of melon and citrus.
Sparkling Rosé is a blend of Syrah and chardonnay that gives a rich mouth feel of berries and citrus essence with a dry finish.
Sparkling Gewurztraminer has a light pepper spice and exotic fruits blended together in a rich, creamy finish.
Westside Crossing Pinot Noir 2014
Rick Moshin is renowned for his elegant, non-extracted, rich and early pinot noirs, grown in a very cool area within the Russian River appellation, not far from the historic Wohler Westside Bridge. The wine shows hints of roses and earth with black currants that give a rich, elegant, silky, soft flavor. This makes a perfect complement to turkey and all of its accompaniments.
The Boatman Red 2014
Barack Mountain Winery has crafted an interesting blend of grapes harvested from Lodi, Mendocino County, the Sierra Foothills and Amador County. This medium-bodied, spicy wine shows flavors of black cherry and rhubarb. The blend consists of Alicante Bouschet 40 percent, merlot 26 percent, Malbec 23 percent, cabernet sauvignon 7 percent, and Petit Sirah 4 percent.
Montinore Estate 2015 Borealis White
This multi-dimensional blend features several grapes. Gewurztraminer, Muller Thurgau, Pinot Gris and Riesling combine to show mouthwatering flavors of kiwi, melon, mango and nectarines. It is an instant crowd pleaser.
Tablas Creek Cotes de Tablas Blanc 2013
The year 2013 was a classic California growing season. This openly rich traditional Rhone blend displays beautiful scents of peaches and cream. Viognier, Grenache Blanc, Marsanne and Raussanne add a depth of flavor. Minerals, with melon stone fruit overtones, give this wine rich textures—perfect with turkey.
John Murray is the proprietor of State Line Liquors, Inc.