How to Pick out a bottle of wine that Matches an Assortment of Thanksgiving dishes — Such as turkey

The turkey, as a Thanksgiving-table icon, is in trouble. We’re roasting less of the entire bird than we used to. Based on Turkey Farmers of Canada, which relies on data compiled by Ipsos-Reid, consumers bought 44.8 million kilograms in the kind of whole birds this past year, down from 55.9 million kilograms in 1981.

That is a drop of nearly 20 per cent. Considering that our population expanded by 41 percent during the same period, from 24.8 million to over 35 million, it has been a major blow to this shellacked, food-magazine-cover October staple.

Families have been getting smaller, and an increasingly diverse and urbanized population obviously has felt less bound by a habit that calls for a four-hour roast-a-thon and generates two weeks of sterile leftovers.

It is not that we hate turkey per se. Add in turkey parts and processed birds and overall turkey-meat consumption in Canada dropped only slightly over the past 36 years (although it did drop per capita once you factor in the population bulge).

I ran into a gentleman lately in the Toronto Garlic Festival, where I purchase garlic to plant for spring, who provided an instance of the turkey tradition’s evolution. Sugith Jagdeep possesses The Pie Guyz in Brampton, Ont., which specializes in savoury meat pies that Jagdeep used to market in his native South Africa. They have regular offerings, like steak and kidney and butter chicken (Brampton has a sizable Indian-immigrant population), and they do custom orders. Last year one client, who had been planning a feast for 25, ordered an 18-by-24-inch mega-pie full of you know what.

“Let’s not go the roast-turkey route, everybody does this,” he remembered the customer saying. “Let us do a turkey pot pie{}”

But you take your turkey, or even if your centerpiece involves butter chicken or Peking duck, wine-wise I would suggest the following general hints.

  • Do not fret, sommelier-like, over surgically precise matches, procuring gruner veltliner simply because there’s a teaspoon of horseradish or Dijon mustard from the stuffing. Keep the wine style flexible enough to span a selection of flavours, such as the appetizers in our food column now.
  • In regards to flexible, few wines qualify better than white or red Burgundy (or pinot noir or chardonnay, their varietally labelled counterparts from everywhere in the world). Other good choices: arid or off-dry riesling, gruner veltliner, gamay (like in red Beaujolais), cabernet franc, sangiovese (like in Chianti and Vino Nobile) and Côtes du Rhône.
  • Fight cabernet sauvignon. Everybody may adore this big-boned, sturdy red. But actually, are you currently looking $35 rib-eyes for a Thanksgiving audience?
  • Allow it to be special. Bargain pinot grigios and malbecs are fine as Tuesday night home wines, but they are the oenological equivalent of wearing blue jeans and a CAT Diesel Power ball cap. Thanksgiving calls for something a little nicer. Choose a wine with a story you can tell, even if this story amounts to “It’s French! And that man in the newspaper said it tastes great.”
  • But not overly special. Don’t spend far more per bottle than the purchase price of a humanely raised whole turkey. Leave the trophy wines in the cellar; all subtlety is going to be lost in a large gathering.

Having said that, I am beginning with a stately Chablis from Burgundy, which is more expensive than your typical Butterball — since I love Chablis, and I think it goes with almost everything.

Jean-Marc Brocard Vau de Vey Chablis 2014 (France)

SCORE: 92 PRICE: $43.95

From a premier-cru vineyard. This is medium-bodied, lively chardonnay, none of these lazy-turkey chardonnays slathered with walnut. Attractive, leesy-autolytic thickness. Pineapple, bruise apple and saline tang. Offered in Ontario in the above price, $32.50 in Que.

Hidden Bench Fumé Blanc 2015 (Niagara)

SCORE: 92 PRICE: $29.45

Substantial for a sauvignon blanc because of time in bamboo. Lusciously textured. Imagine flambéed cherry in butter with vanilla, spice and a whiff of smoke. Beautifully crafted through an exacting winery. Offered in Ontario.

Te Pa Pinot Gris 2015 (New Zealand)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $17.95

Remarkably Alsatian in style, with fleshy texture and an almost off-dry, syrupy quality. Impressive balance and enchanting, musky-gingery spice for elevator and structure. Big value. Fantastic for roast turkey or roast pork, among other things. Offered in Ontario.

Kaiken Las Rocas Ultra Malbec 2015 (Argentina)

SCORE: 91 PRICE: $19.95

A heavyweight, yet not lethargic or too sweet. Smooth, with dense dark fruit, leather, black chocolate and smoked-meat overtones, with walnut spice for elevator and integrated tannins for great structure. Offered in Ontario.

Trerose Santa Caterina Vino Nobile di Montepulciano 2013 (Italy)

SCORE: 90 PRICE: $24.95

Succulent yet firm, with pleasantly grippy tannins. Substantial Tuscan sangiovese. Judiciously oaked. Dried cherry, plum, vanilla, leather and, in the far background, a note of chocolate. Offered in Ontario.

Nk’Mip Dreamcatcher 2016 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 89 PRICE: $17.49

A smartly made aromatic blend of riesling, sauvignon blanc, ehrenfelser, pinot blanc and chardonnay from an aboriginal owned winery in the south Okanagan. Medium-bodied and dry, yet with a ripe, suggestively sweet, fleshy core indicating flavours of cherry, green apple and lime. Fantastic balance and tension. Offered in British Columbia in the above price, various prices in Alta., $17.99 at Man., $22.99 in N.B.

Tinhorn Creek Oldfield Reserve 2Bench White 2016 (British Columbia)

SCORE: 89 PRICE: $22.99

A blend of sauvignon blanc, sémillon, viognier, chardonnay and muscat. Medium-full, polished to a sheen. Soft, ripe peachy fruit and dollop of vanilla, lifted up to a toasty-smoky nuance as from the well-integrated acidity. Offered in B.C. and Alta. liquor stores and direct, .

Gorgo San Michelin Custoza 2015 (Italy)

SCORE: 89 PRICE: $15.95

An unusual white combination of garganega, cortese and riesling from Italy’s Veneto region, where garganega is famous for making Soave. On the lighter side of medium-bodied, it is unoaked and silky, with a fruity core indicating apple, green melon and peach and a savoury herbal-floral side. Lovely. Offered in Ontario.

André Delorme Bourgogne Pinot Noir 2014 (France)

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $22.95

Light-medium bodied. True-blue entry red Burgundy at a nice price. Crushed berries and a good deal of beetroot earthiness in addition to the slightest notice, in my estimation, of volatile acidity (found in two different bottles), but only enough to provide the fruit a soda without searing your nose. A fun and funky Burg. Offered in Ontario.

Perrin Réserve Côtes du Rhône 2015 (France)

SCORE: 88 PRICE: $16.95

A good, affordable red from a huge name in the Rhône Valley. Classic regional personalities in a balanced, mid-weight frame. Soft cherry-strawberry centre together with hints of leather, Provencal herbs and spice. Offered in Ontario in the above price, $16.99 at B.C., various prices in Alta., $15.45 at Que., $19.20 at Nfld., $17.29 at PEI.

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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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