Art is how we decorate space, Music is how we decorate time

drbeeper random header image

Thanksgiving – Grenache

Featured Grape

Fact Sheet

Σ    Grenache is one of the
most widely planted grapes in the world, popular in France (reds and
rosÈs from the southern Rhone, including Chateauneuf-du-Pape and
Tavel), Spain (where it’s known as Garnacha and used to make Rioja),
California, and Australia (good rosÈs and various red

Σ    Though some of the world’s
best wines come from Grenache, its profusion also makes it subject
to low-quality productions.

Σ    When
made in a light, fruity style, Grenache produces a velvety,
raspberry-flavored wine with a little

Σ    Denser, fuller-bodied Grenache
wines meant for aging might include elements of smoke, spice,
leather, licorice, and truffles.

Wine: Dare Not to Be Great

Quick! Which American holiday
is most closely associated with food?

Okay, that was too
easy. And just as simple is the conclusion that Thanksgiving is a
time to open great wines — right?

Ha! Wrong. According to
wine.com merchant Burke Owens, the traditional American
late-November menu demands exactly the opposite.

“Thanksgiving is a cornucopia of every possible foodstuff
that you can cram onto a table,” Owens observes. “If you’re making a
small dinner and planning every phase of the meal, you could have
special wines with each course — but that’s not usually what this
day is about. Even the best Thanksgiving dinners tend to be a
mixture of haute cuisine and trailertrash recipes from the backs of
cracker boxes.”

“With so many things going on at the table,
from miniature marshmallows to smoked-maple-brined turkey, it’s
asking too much of an old bottle of Puligny-Montrachet or rarefied
western Sonoma Pinot Noir. Those wines just don’t work well with the
myriad flavors and conflicting combinations.”

So what does?
“‘Simple’ works fine,” Burke advises. “Get something friendly and
fun, plonk it down on the table, and drink it.”

This week at
www.wine.com, Owens and wine.com Senior
Merchant Jeff Prather suggest specific wines that shine in such a
supporting role. “RosÈ, Riesling, and not-too-complex Chardonnays are always good choices,” Burke
recommends. “Stick with regional blends, as opposed to high-end,
single-vineyard bottlings.”

Prather recommends “light reds
with low tannins and a fair amount of fruit — yummy, quaffable,
affordable crowd-pleasers, thank you very much.” In this category
Jeff includes French Beaujolais, light Pinot Noir (“no grand crus,
please”), and Chianti or Sangiovese from Italy or California.

Of course, a major reason for Thanksgiving’s horn-of-plenty
character is that, coming as it does toward the end of autumn, it
represents the ultimate harvest meal. In this light, the most
thematically appropriate wine for such an occasion is a nouveau (as
in Beaujolais Nouveau), made from grapes picked a couple of months
earlier and bottled as a celebration of the vintage. As it happens,
this style of wine — full of bright, fresh, fruity, uncomplicated
and irrepressible flavors — works very well with the cranberry
sauce-centric Turkey Day menu.

With all of that said, we
must admit that, as diehard wine lovers, we usually can’t resist
popping the cork on something special during this carnival of
consumption. A couple of years ago, after quaffing Pinot Blanc and
Beaujolais Nouveau throughout most of the meal, we broke down and
opened a bottle of d’Arenberg’s deeply extracted Custodian,
made from 100-year-old Grenache vines in Australia’s McLaren Vale.
We only did it to treat a friend (sort of), but truth to tell, this
inky, sappy, single-vineyard selection is the only thing we clearly
remember from that year’s Thanksgiving table.