Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Thanksgiving Wine – Drink Something Wonderful

At Thanksgiving, the wine shops are packed with people, many of whom are fretting about the endless choices and what’s the “right” pairing for turkey. There are many wine writers who will provide Thanksgiving wine advice, and, for the first time, I’ve decided to join them.

It’s been widely written that there is no single, “perfect” wine to serve at this feast. What matches with your turkey may taste dreadful with your cranberry sauce. Some people say, put out a white and red and let your guests decide. I’d say that’s a good guideline, but I’d like to provide an additional thought.

Think of thanksgiving as a fancy dinner, one that you have slaved over, one where you want to enjoy yourself to the fullest. After all, it’s a national holiday devoted to food (and family, but where I’m from the two always go together).

What is the wine you love most in the world? For me, it’s lovely red Burgundies with a little age on them. I am serving a 2006 Domaine Pavelot Savigny-les-Beaune premier cru La Dominode, selected with help from my new friend, Ian, from the Wine Library. I told Ian I love Gevrey Chambertin, and (since the bulk of their Gevreys were north of $70) he guided me to this wine, a few villages south of Gevrey but offering the flavors that should delight my palate at a more modest price.

I think my Burgundy will work with most of what I’m serving: turkey, pan gravy, stuffing, mashed potatoes. The vegetables – they’re on their own, I am not worried about what works with them. Basically, cover your plate in brown gravy and reds work fine.

But, I would argue, if you love white wine, then serve that. Or Champagne. There are some wines that might be too heavy; big tannic reds would probably stomp all over your palate and not help you enjoy what’s on your plate. But rather than worry about what wine is “right”, think about what wine you love. It’s a special day, a rare occasion when we all can pause and take a moment to enjoy the people closest to us. Toast that with a wine worthy of the occasion.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Vienna

Vienna, a grandiose city of palaces and museums, a city of music where Mozart’s legend was born. A city at the edge of the western world. Go a little further and you’re in Eastern Europe. Timeless and modern, where the Habsburgs ruled and Freud analyzed.
For food lovers, Vienna is where calorie-laden fare like wiener schnitzel, apfelstrudel and potatoes done six ways are served in beer halls and heurigens. Not to mention the coffee house culture and its Sacher Torte and other elaborate pastries. And Vienna is noteworthy for wine lovers: it’s the only European capital with wineries within city limits.
Vienna was recently the host of the 2010 European Wine Bloggers Conference. About 200 bloggers from 30 countries gathered at the Schonbrunn Palace Orangerie for two days of meetings and speakers highlighting trends in digital media, blogging, wine criticism and more.
The EWBC was presented by Catavino and The Wine Conversation and included sponsorship by Wines of Austria, who provided one of the most dynamic and entertaining speakers, Willie Klinger.
There were technical tastings and many more casual opportunities to sample wines from Austria: tangy Gruner Veltliners and Rieslings of many stripes, including a 1973 that had the heavy diesel nose that some wine lovers dream of. The reds included fruity Blaufrankisch, Zwiegelts, and the Pinot Noir progeny, St. Laurent.
For many returning participants EWBC offered the chance to catch up with old friends and meet new ones. Because the wine blogging world is serious about both wine and camaraderie. One of the most valuable aspects of the conference is the connections that are made, both personal and professional.
There will be many blogs, vlogs, and tasting notes posted online about EWBC 2010. But if you don’t have the chance to read all that, know this: EWBC was a resounding success for participants, sponsors, and for Austrian wines, which picked up a couple hundred new devoted fans.