Part 4: The Wine List
For us here at Kimpton, she’s the first word and last name in wine: Emily Wines is a Master Sommelier, a coveted designation that few mortals achieve (at the time of her certification in 2008, she was one of less than 100 people in the United States to have earned that title). So we asked her a few questions about what wines to serve at your holiday table to make for the perfect palette-pleasing feast. Cheers!
Q: Is it true wines low in tannins and high in acidity pair well with a classic turkey dinner? And what does that mean in layman’s terms?
A: Tannins are drying, astringent flavors that are found in black tea, spinach and red wine. Tannic wines tend to need quite a bit of fat to help soften them. Turkey doesn’t quite do the job so save your Cabernet Sauvignon for steak night. Acidity is what keeps wines refreshing. Just the way tart cranberry sauce is delicious, a tangy, light red wine will be magical.
Q: What are some examples of those wines?
A: Pinot Noir is one of the quintessential turkey dinner wines in my book. It has very soft tannins and due to the cool climate it grows in, the wines have bright acidity. Oregon Pinot Noir is soft, woodsy and loaded with pomegranate and cranberry flavors. For more sweet cherry flavors try Pinot Noir from California’s North or Central Coast.
Q: Rosé … yes or no?
A: Rosé can be fantastic with turkey dinner, too. The red-fruit flavors are slightly muted — think strawberry instead of black cherry.
Q: If price were no object, what wine would you bring for a turkey dinner?
A: If price was truly no object I would go big! Domaine de la Romanée-Conti “La Tâche” 1985 will set you back a mere $1,500 per bottle.
Q: How about if you’re on a budget?
A: On a budget look to California’s North Coast. Mark West winery makes a great value-driven Pinot Noir. It retails for under $10.
Q: Champagne or sparkling wine? Any recommendations?
A: Champagne all the way! Sparkling wine certainly offers a better value but there is nothing quite like Champagne. My favorite is Ruinart Blanc de Blancs. It is delicate and creamy with a lemon-custard finish.
Q: How about dessert wines? Any recommendations for pairing with a pumpkin or berry pie?
A: For thanksgiving dinner go with a late-harvest style wine. I like something that is slightly oxidized for more of a nutty finish. The Rutherglen region of Australia makes some amazing wines like this.
Updated April 20, 2016.