We have only one rule in our family on Thanksgiving: no one is allowed to bring Cabernet Sauvignon to drink with dinner. That’s because the table would end up crowded with big, bold California fruit bombs that would completely overwhelm the lighter dishes. Even turkey struggles to compete with these intensely concentrated wines. Instead, my family uses Thanksgiving to experiment with new varieties, especially lighter styles with relatively low alcohol content. By avoiding bold reds, my family has already discovered dozens of lighter, less appreciated wines that we adore–Philippe Pacalet Gamay is now a Thanksgiving tradition at our table. By following these simple Thanksgiving wine pairing tips, you too can serve wines that take your traditional Thanksgiving dinner dishes to new heights (and maybe even discover a new favorite wine in the process).
A COMPREHENSIVE RESOURCE FOR THE TRUE CONNOISSEUR
The Bordeaux 2017 harvest was grueling for most wineries, to say the least. Even on Premier Cru estates, it took winemakers every ounce of effort to grow and pick a minuscule number of grapes by the end of the harvest season. In many terroirs, yields were down by an average of 41 percent, sometimes more. This means that some winemakers were left struggling to find enough grapes with which to produce wine.
Renowned wine critic James Suckling is fortunate enough to sample some of the greatest wines in the world, from legendary DRC vintages to the rarest Lafite-Rothschild. So when a critic as experienced as Suckling calls a wine “mythic,” it certainly commands attention. Suckling’s review of 2005 LaFleur Pomerol is downright gushing; he calls this wine “fine and beautiful” with a “rich, powerful palate” that continues to build long after the last drop hits your tongue. This is one of the many reasons why 2005 LaFleur is considered the best Bordeaux blend for collectors who adore a more muscular wine.
Every year during the first week of December, I buy my best friend a bottle of Taittinger non-vintage Champagne, and we share it over home-baked Christmas desserts. One year, I decided to surprise her with a vintage bottle of Pol Roger instead. After her first sip of the new bottle, to my surprise, she said, “This is really nice, but I think I like the Taittinger better.” She explained that even though the Pol Roger was a fine vintage Champagne that was technically higher quality than the Taittinger, the non-vintage wine had become a tradition for us. The taste of it signaled the start of the Christmas season for her.
Over dinner one evening, I had an animated discussion with a group of wine-loving friends about which Bordeaux wines are overrated. None of us could agree on a producer; there was always at least one person in the group who loved a particular “overrated” estate. But when one of my friends suggested that Liber Pater is the most overrated wine in Bordeaux, it gave all of us pause. It’s surely the most expensive wine in the region–the question is whether the added expense is actually worthwhile for collectors, or if the wines are more hype than substance. Ultimately, the value of Liber Pater Bordeaux will depend on your own collection and goals. Before you invest in these bottles, consider whether the current Quality-Price Ratio (QPR) matters to you, or if you’d rather spend a little extra to stay loyal to Graves craftsmanship.
My accountant is a dedicated wine enthusiast, and he always gives his clients the same informal investment advice: young Bordeaux will almost always give you a better return on investment than the stock market. He has his own collection of luxury wine bottles, and within just five years of buying his first “investment case,” he’s already seen a 16 percent increase in his wine’s value. By comparison, the stock market only offered him a 7 percent average return each year.
Some wine enthusiasts believe that sommelier certification takes years to complete, and that it’s only useful for those who want a career in the wine industry. This isn’t necessarily true. Dedicated students can become a sommelier in as little as 24 weeks through the American Sommelier Association. Moreover, sommelier status opens new doors for you that you might never have considered before. When Vinfolio’s Tamara Forward went through the process in 2014, she not only received a top-notch wine education (which made it easier to shop for and enjoy wine in her spare time), she also made meaningful connections to her fellow students, and was able to use her education to move her wine career forward. Even if you aren’t looking for a career in wine, you can gain a great deal of experience and improve your wine collection by becoming certified. If you’re wondering how to become a sommelier, here’s how to go about it, what to expect, and how it can help you as a collector.
What if scientists could pinpoint the perfect bottle of wine for your palate, based only on the genetic makeup of your DNA? A Silicon Valley technology company, Helix, claims that they can do exactly that. Using a DNA sequence and a short quiz, the company says that they can help their customers find their ideal wine style without ever picking up a glass of wine. But how reliable is this new technology, and could it really replace a wine tasting session? The science of wine tasting is still a complex and rarely-studied field, so before you get your genome analyzed, take some time to learn about why we prefer the wines we love, and what you can do to find your own perfect bottle from the comfort of your home.
One of my friends has been a wine collector for 20 years; he owns at least a dozen bottles of fine Latour and Haut-Brion, and is immensely knowledgeable about the wine industry. Knowing how much experience he has with wine, you can imagine my surprise when I learned that he had never bought a full bottle at a restaurant. He told me that he could spend hours in a wine shop looking at obscure vintages and know exactly which bottle to pick, but when he tries buying a bottle of wine at a restaurant, he is too nervous to commit to a single full bottle. Because of this, he would always bring wine to restaurants instead; that way, he’d know exactly what to expect.
MENTIONED IN THIS POST: -Le Pin -Ogier -Alesia -Pine Ridge -Krupp Brothers -Ausone 2009 -Ausone 2016 My first barrel tasting experience was a massive success, in part because I had a knowledgeable mentor walking me through the process. The head winemaker was a close family friend, and he offered to take me and four of…
MENTIONED IN THIS POST: -Raveneau -Beaux Freres In the fine wine world, terroir is king. This is perhaps why hybrid wine grapes have earned such a sour reputation among top critics and collectors. Unlike sensitive vinifera grapes, which require very specific weather conditions and soil to thrive, hybrids can grow just about anywhere, and withstand…
MENTIONED IN THIS POST: -Coche-Dury -Bruno Clair -Montelena Making Chardonnay is usually a delicate process that requires a gentle hand–you have to carefully sort the fragile fruit into a nearly-airtight grape press, then slowly squeeze each cluster just enough to let the juice run out. But modern wineries are beginning to embrace a darker, more…