Wines for Your Thanksgiving Day Table

Every year I get so many people asking me what wines they should serve for Thanksgiving. After all, with so many dishes, from sweet to savory, appetizers and desserts, there’s obviously not one single wine to fit an entire meal. But who said you only have to serve one wine????

Bubbles

Sparkling wine or champagne is my go to apertif for Thanksgiving as there’s nothing more inviting when you walk in the door than to be handed a glass of bubbles. I’m a huge fan of sparkling rosé, which actually pairs well with the Thanksgiving meal. Be sure to have a few bottles on hand for those people who want to keep on sipping!

Montenisa Brut Rosé, Franciacorta, Italy $39

This elegantly-styled dry rosé qualifies as distinctive AND delicious. Hailing from the Lombardy region of Italy, Franciacorta is an area designated to make top-quality sparkling wine in the traditional method. It ranks alongside top California sparklers as well as those from the French region of Champagne.

 

Loimer Brut Rosé, Niederosterriech, Austria $30

If you’re an adventurous fizz fanatic like I am, you are always seeking out new sparklers to enjoy. This unique bubbly crafted by iconic winemaker, Fred Loimer, is made in the traditional method of ageing in bottle. Floral aromas and red berry freshness make this stylishly dry rosé one to sip as an aperitif or with lighter dishes.

 

 

Barone Pizzini “Animante” Brut, Franciacorta DOCG, Italy$37

Barone Pizzini has been producing wine since 1870 and this classically crisp, dry bubbly is crafted with Chardonnay, Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir), and Pinot Bianco (Pinot Blanc). With a streak of refreshing minerality and citrusy freshness, it’s sparkling wine that will impress.

 

Aromatic Whites

Thanksgiving is the day to set aside your typical Chardonnay in favor of lighter, more aromatic whites. With a mix of dishes, the buttery, oaky quality of Chardonnay overpowers the meal and doesn’t do the wine justice. Instead, look for wines like a medium-dry Riesling or Gewurztraminer (an excellent Turkey day choice), a Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon or Viognier. If you’re hell bent on Chardonnay though, look for an un-oaked version to complement the varied dishes on the Thanksgiving table.

 

2015 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile $15

This version of Sauvignon hails from the cool climate Casablanca Valley, which is home to many of the country’s top whites and Pinot Noirs. Ritual’s version of Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and fresh with a ping of vibrant acidity and marries layers of complexity with affordability and versatility. Stock up as it will become a household favorite.

2015 Amavi Semillon, Walla Walla Valley, Washington $24

I have long adored the wines of Amavi Cellars in Washington’s Walla Walla Valley. Their focus on sustainability and quality is unmatched. This Semillon – a white variety known in the Bordeaux region of France – showcases how well the grape has taken to Washington’s sunny yet cool climate. Like its European brethren, Amavi blends a touch of Sauvignon Blanc with Semillon to balance its richness. Flashing a generous amount of ripe melon and citrus fruit character on the nose and palate, it also teases with minerality and brightness. A white with class and style.

 

2015 Wittmann Riesling Troken, Rheinhessen, Germany$20

As a Riesling lover, I’m constantly searching for bottles that showcase the best of the variety. This mineral-laden, citrus-scented, dry-styled beauty is one to seek out. Pick up a few bottles to pair with your variety of Thanksgiving dishes. You, too, will fall under the spell of Riesling.

2015 Acquiesce Viognier, Lodi, California $24

This Viognier captures ginger and orange peel aromas with a supple texture, much like the classic examples from Condrieu. It’s beauty in a bottle. You can join the mailing list at their website or visit the property and indulge in their wine and food pairings. *Current release is 2016

 

2016 Emiliana “Natura” Un-Oaked Chardonnay, Valle del Bio-Bio, Chile $11

On several of my trips to Chile’s wine country, I’ve had the pleasure of visiting Emiliana. It’s a stunning, but low-key property devoted to creating wines focused on the principles of organics and biodynamics. Their label “Natura” is one I recommend frequently for its affordability and drinkability. Sure, it’s made with organically grown grapes, but the wines are just plain delicious. This oak-free style of Chardonnay is crisp with bright citrus and green apple notes and a smack of mouthwatering acidity.

 

Elegant Reds

Just like avoiding the boldness of a Chardonnay, try to avoid any “BIG” reds as the oak and the tannin in these wines will overpower your Thanksgiving meal. Instead, look for more well-rounded wines, like a Pinot Noir, or Merlot.

2014 Buty “Conner Lee Vineyard” Merlot/Cabernet Franc, Columbia Valley, Washington $45

When I first tasted the wines from Buty (pronounced beauty) I called them one of Washington state’s best producers. Being lucky enough to sample their wines year after year, that declaration still holds true. This supple, elegant red is two-thirds Merlot and one third Cabernet Franc grown in the famed Conner Lee Vineyard. It’s a wine to age for up to a decade or drink alongside rosemary-infused turkey and mashed potatoes.

2104 Viña Maquis Cabernet Franc Gran Reserva, Colchagua Valley, Chile $20

Cabernet Franc is a red grape variety known as in France’s Bordeaux and Loire regions. There are spots around the globe where small pockets are planted (Napa Valley, for example), but it’s rare to find versions from Chile. This elegant, floral red hails from a winery that just celebrated its 100 year anniversary. Maquis’s Cab Franc is what I call a “twice the price” wine as it delivers quality and character worth double its price tag. Grab a bottle to serve or a case to savor later.

 

2013 Reata “Three County” Pinot Noir, California$35

Reata’s full-bodied Pinot Noir is a blend of grapes from Monterey, San Benito and Sonoma counties. It’s a Pinot with suppleness and ripe fruit notes. Enjoy it as a perfect wine pairing with any of your Thanksgiving dishes.

2015 Martin Ray, Pinot Noir, Green Valley of Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California $40

This fleshy yet perfumed Pinot Noir showcases the effects of growing grapes in the rich Gold Ridge soil of Russian River Valley’s special Green Valley. Here the fog lingers keeping temperatures cool, which ultimately creates wines of elegance and style. A beautiful red that will surprise and impress.

 

 

 

Dessert and After

Don’t be afraid of dessert wines! Whether you’re serving pumpkin or pecan pie, chocolate mousse or just more wine, a slightly sweet sipper is the best end of the meal choice.

Pizzolato Moscato 2015 ($15)

These bubbles are an excellent way to end the meal or festivities. Served best with dessert, this organically grown sparkling Moscato smells of custard and finishes with a spiced apple finish. Look in the aisles of your local Whole Foods to grab a bottle.

Broadbent Madeira Malmsey 10 Years Old, Portugal $45

Madeira is one of the most famed wines and is undergoing a renaissance in the United States. This Malmsey (name of a grape variety) is an aged, sweet style with toasted almond and toffee aromas layered with bright acidity and lusciously sweet yet balanced flavors. Pour as a perfect complement to an après-dinner cheese platter or dark chocolate dessert.

 

 

 

 

There are so many delicious options for your Thanksgiving table. Give everyone two glasses and let them take their pick, from bubbles to white, reds to dessert wine and ENJOY!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING!!

 

Must-try Summer Wines: Bubbles, Rosé and More!

Looking for an amazing addition to your pool party, backyard bbq or summertime soiree? Check out my favorite picks then watch my time in the 8 o’clock hour at the Today Show!

Rosé All Day:

Americans have finally discovered the joy of rosé. Drinking pink is one of the hottest trends in wine with double-digit growth. These garnet-hued beauties can be made in myriad styles resulting in wines with a whisper of color or those more intensely pink. Most rosés are dry and crisp, while blush wines and those dubbed ‘white’ (as in white zinfandel) tend to be sweeter. With flavors ranging from delicate strawberry and citrus, to juicy red berry and spice, there’s a pink for everyone to drink.

2016 Minuty ‘M’ Rosé, Cotes du Provence, France $20

Packaged in a curvaceous, sexy bottle, this classic rosé hails from southern France’s Provence area. One of the top producers in the region with a rich history dating to the 19th century, Chateau Minuty is known for elegance, quality, and class. A pale-hued pink with floral aromas and peachy flavors, the ‘M’ is a Marvelous summer sip.

2016 Forty Ounce Rosé, France $16 (one liter)

A bang-for-your-buck bottling, this Gamay-based wine captures the essence of a sunny day in the French countryside, but with an American twist. New York-based sommelier, Patrick Cappiello, joined forces with French vintner, Julien Braud, to create this light-hearted pink that’s high on tongue-in-cheek style.

2016 Summer Water, Central Coast, California $19

A collaboration of Yes Way Rosé and Winc, the Summer Water is an easy-drinking pink that says it all with the name. I prefer to drink rosé over water on most summer afternoons anyway, and this wine pairs with dishes from grilled salmon to fruit salads. (If you join their wine club, the price goes to $15.)

2016 Tablas Creek ‘Patelin de Tablas’ Rosé, Paso Robles, California $24

Who said rosé can’t be a serious sipper? This one most certainly is. Primarily Grenache grapes blended with other Rhone varieties such as Mourvèdre and Syrah, it’s an aromatic, mineral-laden pink. Though Californian in birth, Tablas Creek is French at heart with the famed Perrin family of Chateau de Beaucastel involved.

 

Beach Bound or Poolside?

These selections are lower in alcohol than other wines offering quaffable fun in the sun.

 

Barefoot White Wine Spritzer, California $9 (four pack)

Barefoot Wine is among the top selling wine brands in the world. The reason? Good wine at great prices wrapped in a feel-good vibe.

Everyone wants to dump the shoes and walk barefoot in the sand. Now, you can do it with can in hand. This slightly fizzy tin-of-fun is a blend of Chenin Blanc and Symphony grapes topped with carbonated water, making it an ideal beach companion.

La Grande Courtâge Rosé and Brut, Sparkling Wine, France $7 (per 187 ml)

Want to upscale your outdoor imbibing? Reach for a mini from La Grande Courtâge. A French sparkler made by a Californian, Tawnya Falkner, the brand is an ode to the marriage of French and American culture. It’s a unique option for those wanting to indulge al fresco. Just add a straw, then sit back and relax.

Eppa Red Sangria, California $10

Ringing in at a mere 9 percent alcohol, this super-Sangria is organically-grown red wine blended with organic juices including pomegranate, blueberry, and blood orange. The refreshing red is ideal over ice with sliced fruit. Enjoy a pitcher poolside and let summer begin.

 

Global Grilling with Latin Flair:

From Spain to South America, these selections bring a little heat to dishes hot off the grill. There are no rules when it comes to pairing white wine with fish and red with meat, but if a spicy shrimp platter or Cajun-rubbed chicken breast is on the menu, reach for one of these two mouthwatering coastal whites to tame the fire.

 

2015 Ritual Sauvignon Blanc, Casablanca Valley, Chile $15

 

A classic pairing with fiery fare is Sauvignon Blanc. This citrus-scented version is made from grapes grown in cool-climate vineyards on Chile’s Pacific Coast. Made by the talented hands of Rodrigo Soto – one of the country’s acclaimed winemakers – the Ritual is a winner for not only warm-weather sipping, but year ‘round imbibing.

2015 Fillaboa Albariño, Rías Baixas, Spain $18

For an exotic take on crisp whites, head to Spain’s west coast to sample Albariño. An Iberian Peninsula grape variety, it explodes with orange blossom aromas and succulent fruit flavors. Fillaboa is one of my top-pick producers from the area of Galicia called Spain’s “land of the sea.” Don your shades and take a virtual vacation in a glass.

 

When barbecue ribs or perfectly-seared rib eye is served, think of these spicy reds to pair alongside.

2014 Clos de los Siete, Valle de Uco, Mendoza, Argentina $20

Made high in the Andes by noted French winemaker, Michel Rolland, this Malbec-driven blend combines Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon in a full-bodied, dark-fruited red that’s supple and alluring. Still sporting elegance, however, it’s an ideal match for steak, steak, and more steak.

 2008 Arinzano ‘La Casona’ Pago de Arinzano, Spain $40

Want to splurge on your next grilling red? Reach for this exceptional bottling from Arinzano. Noted as one of the top estates—or Pagos – in Spain, La Casona is made with the signature red grape Tempranillo rounded out with Merlot. A lush, age-worthy red, it’s a wine to drink with anything…or nothing at all.

 

Summer Holiday Celebrations, American Style:

From July 4th to Labor Day, these American wines with a story to tell are ones to share with a crowd.

 

2016 The Federalist Chardonnay, Mendocino County, California $17.76

With the smashing success of Broadway’s Hamilton, it’s no surprise there is a wine brand celebrating our Founding Fathers and

wine’s role in American history. This oak-kissed, smooth Chardonnay showcases Lady Liberty on the label making it fab for the 4th. The price is what else? $17.76.

2014 Purple Heart Red Wine, Napa Valley, California $20

You can do good and drink well during summer gatherings with Purple Heart. A rich red blend

that’s delicious to sip is one reason to buy the wine, but the other is that annual donations are
made to the Purple Heart Foundation in honor of American military veterans and their families.

Chandon ‘American Summer’ Brut sparkling wine, California $26

Wrapped in a seascape of red, white and blue, this limited-edition bottling from Chandon is a deliciously dry yet fruit-driven sparkling wine. Become part of the #chandonsquad and raise a glass. It’s a top way to toast summer.

 

 

 

Taste & Sip 2017

It’s that time of year again! Time to enjoy some of my favorite restaurants and wineries in the Bay Area, all under one, spectacular roof. It’s time for Taste & Sip 2017!

 

Check, Please! Bay Area Taste & Sip Event

Date: Tuesday, May 23, 2017
VIP Reception: 5:45–6:30pm
Main Event: 6:30–9:00pm
Location: San Francisco Design Center Galleria [Map] BUY TICKETS / City Box Office (415) 392-4400
Main Event: $95 General Public / $85 Member
VIP & Main Event: $135 General Public / $125 Member

Sip and nosh your way through nearly 50 of the Bay Area’s restaurants and 15 different wineries, all while listening to the melodious strains of Gaucho, courtesy of SFJAZZ. I’ll be sipping with you, along with various members of our production team and guests from seasons past. All food and drink is included in the ticket price.

For an extra special experience, upgrade to a VIP ticket and you will also be invited to a pre-event reception, complete with champagne, manhattans and specialty hors d’oeuvres from a select group of our restaurants.

Come Taste & Sip with me!

New Year’s Cocktails with Hoda and Kathie Lee

In case you missed it, I had the pleasure of talking holiday cocktails with Hoda, Kathie Lee and Ray Isle of Food & Wine ! It’s always a good time for cocktails, especially with New Year’s upon us. These delicious cocktails are perfect for the winter months and might also class up your sports parties as well!

Fourth Hour Fizz

1 ½ oz vodka

½ oz Elderflower liqueur

2 oz New Age Red wine, Valentin Bianchi family, Argentina

Tonic water

Shake the vodka and Elderflower liqueur with ice. Strain into martini glass. Top with New Age red and tonic water. Garnish with sprig of mint or basil for holiday red and green

 

 

Tawny Crème

My lighter, eggless take on classic eggnog flavors:

1 cup almond milk 

1 tbsp sweetened condensed milk 

1.5 ounce Tawny Port 

Garnish with Cinnamon stick

On low heat warm the almond milk, whisk in the sweetened condensed milk until lightly frothy (can also use a frother). Pour into mug and add Tawny Port. Stir with cinnamon stick. 

 

Ginger Spice Punch

This spicy sip can be made in single servings or scaled to make punch:

1 part bourbon to 5 parts apple cider (not apple juice).

Stir together over ice and top with ginger beer or ginger ale to taste. Garnish with orange slices. 

Asian-influenced “Coco-Nog”

 The idea for this refreshing, eggless take on eggnog came to me as I was sipping a unique style of Japanese whiskey named Kikori. Made from rice aged in American and French oak for more than three years, this aromatic, light-styled whiskey whispers elegance. 

 1 oz. sweetened condescend milk

1 ½ oz. vanilla coconut milk (if you can’t find vanilla versions, just use plain coconut milk and add a ¼ teaspoon of vanilla extract)

1 oz strong green tea

1 ½ oz Kikori Japanese whiskey

 

Blend all with ice in a blender. Pour into glass and top with combination of matcha green tea powder (available in Asian markets or online) and powdered ginger. 

Check out the video!

Sparkling Wines to Ring in the New Year

As we all watch the ball drop on New Year’s Eve (GOOD RIDDANCE 2016) the festivities lend itself to only one thing, bubbles. Sparkling wine is the best way to celebrate, whether it’s the New Year, your birthday or some random Wednesday. The effervescent nature of sparkling wine can lift any party from fun to FABULOUS, and there’s nothing like the pop of a cork to lift your spirits.

 

Sweet

Sparkling wine that’s on the sweet side is a perfect pairing for the end of the year festivities, especially if you’re serving dessert. The Carpene Malvolti ($19) is a lovely elegant prosecco, with a apple aftertaste. Greet your guests at the door with a glass of this beautiful sparkler!

The Pizzolato Moscato 2015 ($15) is an excellent way to end the meal or festivities. Served best with dessert, this organically grown sparkling Moscato smells of custard and finishes with a spiced apple finish. Look in the aisles of your local Whole Foods to grab a bottle.

 

Bubbles of Beauty

While any bottle that houses bubbles is a thing of beauty, a gorgeously designed bottle is an excellent hostess gift for that New Year’s party.

The Chandon Brut ($24) “Merry Whatever” bottle was designed by Rebecca Minkoff and comes in both white and black. This bottle is gorgeous to give but even better to drink!

Nothing wows however like the Segura Viudas Bruta Reserva Heredad Cava ($20). With metal embellishments adorning the bottle, this cava not only drinks beautifully but is sure to impress!

Sparkling Splurge

Sometimes you just want to spend a little bit more on those bubbles. The Palmer and Co Brut Réserve ($50) is true champagne, which must come from the Champagne region of France. These bubbles are a blend of the most prestigious terroirs in Champagne and display the region with finesse and elegance.

If your tastes run to Italy instead of France, the Bisol Prosecco Valdobbiadene Superiore Cartizze ($45) is simply the best. A fruity and elegant Prosecco, this wine is a well balanced and delicious splurge.

Tis the Sparkling Season

Let’s be honest, nothing says the holidays like holiday colors. The Piper-Heidsieck Brut Champagne ($38) delights with not only it’s red festive label, but as one of the world’s most beloved champagnes, it delights with the classic crispness and elegance of a true champagne.

As always, if there are to be bubbles, some of them must be pink. This Schramsberg Brut Rosé ($44) is a gorgeously festive color to ring in the new year. Enjoy it with every course or on it’s own, celebrating with friends or with a loved one, these beautiful pink bubbles are not to be missed.

As 2016 draws to a close thank you to everyone around the world who makes beautiful wines for us to savor and enjoy, especially during this holiday season. Gather your family, friends and loved ones around as we toast to the end of another year and the hope for a wonderful 2017.

Happy New Year!