Local experts on wine pairings: ‘Drink what you like’

Kirsten Johnston of Windsor Township shops at the Wine & Spirits store in Springettsbury Township (file).

So you’ve prepared the green-bean casserole and cranberry sauce and your frozen bird is thawing.

But what about the wine?

While giving thanks, think of Nouveau wines, which are fruity and light-bodied, suggested Emery Pajer, who works at the tasting bar at Allegro Winery and Vineyards in Chanceford Township.

“A Nouveau wine is a traditional wine for Thanksgiving,” he said. “It’s made from the fresh harvest, so it’s not oaky because it’s not aged.”

Jim Miller, owner and winemaker at Moon Dancer Winery in Lower Windsor Township, suggested enjoying a white wine with your family’s holiday bird.

“With turkey, a Chardonnay or our Moon River Red — a semi-dry wine — would go well,” he said. “If you are having a heavier Christmas dinner, try a Cabernet (Sauvignon) or Meritage.”

And when you’ve stuffed yourself with stuffing and are ready to move on to pumpkin pie, reach for a sweet drink, such as an ice wine or port, Pajer said.

“Port goes well with sweet stuff. In itself, it is a very rich drink, and it’s very strong,” he said. “It has a sweetness to it that’s not typical of aged wines.”

Miller agreed.

“For holiday meals, we recommend you end them with a nice ice wine or Port,” he said.

But don’t fret over perfecting the art of pairing, Miller said.

“People get too bogged down. You don’t have to have red wine with red meat,” he said. “Drink what you like. Anything can pair well with whatever you want.”

Choosing your wine

Follow these tips for holiday wine pairings:

Cabernet Sauvignon is a deep red wine that is subjected to long maceration and aging periods. Cabernet has an affinity for oak — during fermentation or in barrel aging — that brings out the flavor of vanilla and spice that complement the grape’s natural black currant flavor. The type of oak used in aging has a lot to do with how to the final product will taste. Winemakers often use a variety of oak barrels from different locations and of different ages and blend the wine as if they are blending different grape varieties.

Chardonnay, often a dry white wine, is full-bodied with rich citrus undertones. It can be fermented in new, charred oak barrels to add a buttery flavor similar to vanilla or coconut. The Chardonnay grape also is used to make champagne and sparkling wines.

Ice wine, a type of dessert wine, is produced from grapes that have been frozen while still on the vine. The sugars and other dissolved solids in the grape don’t freeze, but the water inside it does. This allows for a more concentrated, very sweet wine.

The term “Meritage” encompasses both red and white wines. The red variety of the wine must be made from a blend of at least two of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Malbec, Petit Verdot or Carmenère. The white variety is made from a blend of at least two of the following: Sauvignon Blanc, Sémillon or Muscadelle du Bordelais.

Nouveau wines usually are released in mid- to late-November — only a few weeks after the grapes are plucked from the vine — and sold within the same year they are bottled. These wines are fruity, light bodied and paler in color because of very short maceration and fermentation periods.

Port, or fortified wines, are typically sweet, red varieties, often served as a dessert wines. Ports come in dry, semi-dry and white varieties, as well. The alcohol content of ports is higher than that
of most other wines.

— Source: wineanswers.com

Want more holiday ideas? Visit Smart’s Holiday Countdown page.

Brittany Wilson

I'm an Assistant Sports Editor at the Daily Record/Sunday News. I'm a proud Penn State grad and a New Jersey native living on the West Shore. Two of my favorite things are a good book and a long swim -- just not at the same time. Contact me by emailing bwilson@ydr.com or on Twitter @brittanylion.

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2 Responses

  1. Maria says:

    How come you did not publish a photo of Emery Pajer?? He is SO good-looking!

  1. November 19, 2012

    […] from a blend of at least two of the following: Cabernet Sauvignon, … … See more here: Smart Magazine | Local experts on wine pairings: 'Drink what you like' ← Wine Pairing Recommendations for Thanksgiving « Central Farm […]

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