By William Ferguson
In the Wine World the start of the Holiday Season began last Thursday: “Beaujolais Nouveau Day”. Beaujolais Nouveau Day marks the end of the harvest, celebrates the crop, and is a moment to give thanks for what was reaped.
This Thursday marks the start for the Holiday Season for the rest of us: Thanksgiving. In my home, such a uniquely American Holiday calls for unique American wines-with a bit of a twist-and I’m very thrilled and proud of the selections we’ve brought into Pour to mark the occasion.
At my house, I like to make a little aperitif when guests arrive. I have some favorites, the Sancerre-like Husch Vineyards Sauvignon Blanc from Mendocino County and the brand new Fluid Dynamics cocktails. These fantastic pre-made-and packaged cocktails-are perfect. Just pour these over ice, and you’ve got the perfect Manhattan, Sazerac, or Cranberry liqueur cocktail. Add some soda water if you like, or a dash of bitters to spice it up, and you’ve made it your own! And for such an important celebration...you can never go wrong with an outstanding growers Champagne such as the Chapuy Blanc de Blanc Champagne.
For the first course, and being originally from Virginia, that means either peanuts or pumpkin. This year I’ve got a delicious peanut soup recipe from the Hotel Roanoke, which legend has it, was Thomas Jefferson’s favorite. I’m very excited to pair it with the Boundary Breaks, No. 239, Dry Riesling from the Finger Lakes. New York is home to some of the greatest wine making regions in America, and in my opinion, no one does Riesling in this country better. Dry and flavorful, this wine is fantastic-and should come alive with those tasty peanuts. But, if you're thinking a pumpkin or squash soup with a bite, go directly for the all-American Husch Vineyards Gewurztraminer SUSTAINABLE. This California estate wine has just the right amount of fruit to pair beautifully with any pumpkin or squash soup with just a touch of cumin or cayenne to give that kick the first course needs.
Now, for the Turkey and all the sides, I can never decide whether to open a red, or stick with white, so I usually serve both:
This year is special, and for that reason, I’ve chosen a special Pinot Noir-the David Family Anderson Valley Pinot Noir. This is one of the most elegant and beautiful wines I know. From the northern coast of California (one of the coolest growing regions in the state) David Family chooses the very best grapes to make one of the very best wines. This wine is perfection. I can’t wait to pair it with rosemary and thyme herb stuffing-and mushroom gravy.
For the Francophiles at the table, a Red Burgundy such as the Domaine D’Ardhuy, Côte de Beaune Village, BIODYNAMIC or the Dominique Piron, Morgon SUSTAINABLE, are traditional Thanksgiving must haves. Both these Pinot Noir and Gamy based reds are perfect pairings with the turkey, sides, and diverse range of flavors across the traditional Thanksgiving plate.
If you’re like my Mother and just love your Chardonnay, the Ojai Vineyard Chardonnay, Santa Barbara County or the Domaine Michel Juillot Rully Blanc “Les Thivaux” SUSTAINABLE are just right. I don’t usually go for an oaky-style Chardonnay; however, for Thanksgiving, that’s kind of what I want (and it’s what my Mother definitely wants). The balance is perfect and the oak is well integrated in both.
For dessert, it’s always pie and there are always two: pumpkin and pecan (I’m from Virginia remember?), and I always have a wine to go with each: The Domaine Força Réal Muscat with the pumpkin, and the Valpantena Recioto della Valpolicella Tesauro with the pecan. These are CLASSIC pairings for these classic desserts. The orange blossom and honey of the Muscat makes this fortified wine perfect for pumpkin with a dollop of whipped cream; and the sweet, Amarone-style of the Recioto is ideal with pecan pie topped with vanilla ice cream. I know they aren’t American wines, but they’re just so perfect with these foods-I couldn’t help myself!
Finally, you can't forget leftovers, from the perfect turkey sandwich (yes, with mayo and homemade cranberry sauce), to the warmed up- everything. For these occasions, we end up where we started- with Beaujolais Nouveau...Come grab a few bottles of the easy drinking Paul Durdilly Beaujolais Nouveau "Les Grandes Coasses" to finish off the holiday in heavenly leftover style.
Whatever wines you choose, think of them as an equal part of the menu. You’ve worked hard to prepare a meal for people you love. Honor your effort, and those friendships with wines that make music with the experience.
Will Ferguson is the Wine Steward at POUR. Fluent in French and Italian, he has traveled the world visiting and spending quality time in the different wine regions of America, Australia, France, and Italy--among others. Ferguson has studied at the International Wine Center in New York and completed the Advanced Level of the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust. In addition to his wine experience, he is an accomplished classical singer and holds two degrees from the Juilliard School. Will was promoted to the position of Wine Steward for Pour Wines in the summer of 2014.