Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving is nearly
here, and if you're not hosting, you'll probably be dashing through a train
station, airport, or ferry terminal en route to your host's house.
If you
weren't asked to bring a side dish and you drink booze, etiquette dictates
that you grab a bottle or two of wine en route. Happily enough, you don't
have to break the bank doing so, and picking a bottle should be relatively
easy; because of the variety of foods on offer, Thanksgiving is mercifully
But there are a few extra-smart picks, and a few types of vino to
Michelle Biscieglia, wine director of Blue Hill New York, is a pairings
pro, and gave us tips on the choosing best wines, each for about $20 or less,
in the sparkling, white, and red categories. Sparkling "I always like
to start with sparkling, no matter what," says Biscieglia.
"It's a nice way to
welcome people into your house." (And what host is disappointed to see a
bottle of bubbly?) It's ideal as a starter because it's both celebratory and
palate-cleansing, which one needs for the variety of fare to come: "Bubbles
work really well with different types of food." Think: Crémant (the
less-expensive sibling to Champagne), Cava, and even dry sparkling cider.
the first category, Biscieglia likes the lively, complex Crémant de Loire
from the Domaine de la Bergerie.
As for cider, she loves Northern Spy from
Eve's Cidery in New York State, a sparkler made using traditional Champagne
methods and 100 percent Northern Spy apples.
It tastes of fruit, sure, but
also "has an elegant style and is beautiful and dry," she says. White
Biscieglia likes to have a bottle of white and red on the table, which should
be flexible enough to pair with a variety of dishes.
Whites should have "a
little more body, not be too fruity, and be a little more savory or
herbaceous." This could be entail a fruity Sicilian white, a dry Finger Lakes
Riesling, a bright Sauvignon Blanc, or a Pinot Gris from Oregon State, but
avoid a "super-oaky Chardonnay, which only works for one particular type of
palate, and is not terribly versatile," warns Biscieglia. For a French
Sauv Blanc, Biscieglia likes Quincy, made in the Loire Valley by Domaine
Mardon (2013), an inexpensive charmer with mass appeal.
It's "not your average
Sauvignon Blanc," she says, but "is more earthy, a bit more savory and
herbaceous—not grapefruit juice in your face." Pinot Gris fans might look
for a bottle from The Eyrie Vineyards in Oregon's Willamette Valley (2013),
which Biscieglia says is "herbal and tropical, with spice and earth—rich,
but with great acidity." Red When it comes to reds, don't go nuts and
buy a fancy Barolo or Cabernet Sauvignon.
"I like reds to be savory for
Thanksgiving, but they still need to be elegant and smooth," says
That means most super-tannic wines are out, so consider Sicilian
reds, Burgundy wines, the food-friendly Cabernet Franc grape, and
Blaufränkisch, a newly popular Austrian wine.
With its "nice cross between smokiness and fruit," Benanti's Etna
'Rossodiverzella,' from the area around Mount Etna in Sicily, tops
Biscieglia's list, as does the Carnuntum Blaufränkisch from Muhr Van der
Niepoort in Austria—a somewhat lighter, lovely introduction to that grape.
Overall, as you're poking around the wine shop, says Biscieglia, it's smart
to keep acid in mind.
In the same way that you might leaven a pasta dish or
gratin with a spritz of lemon juice or vinegar, wine can help break up the
parade of heavy dishes.
You want, she says, "something that has nice acidity
that pairs well with a variety of foods.
You don't want it to overpower" the
fare at hand. Sounds good to us.
Happy feasting!
Michelle Biscieglia, wine director of Blue Hill New York, is a pairings pro,
and gave us tips on the choosing best wines, each for about $20 or less, in
the sparkling, white, and red categories.
Read on.

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