Thanksgiving itself is an amalgamation of flavors; green beans, pumpkin pie, cranberries, sweet potatoes, dips, cheeses, breads and turkey. It’s hard to stick with one wine varietal (not that it can’t be done).
In continuing our series on wines best served with Thanksgiving dinner, let’s talk Zinfandel.
Why serve Zinfandel on T-day?
Well, first and foremost it is an American varietal and truly fits in well with the traditions of the holiday. Yes, Zinfandel’s roots do trace back to old Europe but America has really claimed this varietal as its own and produces it with unparalleled passion. American Zinfandel is hearty, rich, spicy and jammed full of fruit flavors.
Zinfandel is a red wine more intense than say Pinot Noir (another great food-pairing wine), but Zinfandel will have a balancing effect on many of the traditional side dishes served with the Thanksgiving meal. It is especially good for those of you looking for a wine with deeper flavors and heartier in taste.
And as far as turkey goes, it is a versatile meat, going well with many different types of wine. But I do feel like Zinfandels are a perfect complement to the bird on Thanksgiving. They have a round, balancing flavor lot’s of people can enjoy. Zinfandel’s very berry nuances help mask some of the acidity occasional wine drinkers find slightly off-settling.
So no matter how experienced or unexperienced your guests are with wine, a good Zinfandel can be enjoyed by many varying palettes.
As I explained in my last Thanksgiving wine post about Riesling, a lot of people have contacted me asking what wine to serve with their meal. But more importantly an affordable wine to serve a crowd. And yes there are great wines at affordable prices; you just have to look and ask lots of questions. Shop somewhere with knowledgeable employees. And if you are going to order wine over the internet it is often more cost effective to ship several bottles instead of just one, check your online retailer for prices.
So here are a few Zin’s I have found to be great values and all-around crowd pleasers. Are there better one’s out there? Of course, but these three offer great taste for exceptional value.
2005 Rosenblum Cellars Snows Lake Vineyard Zinfandel, Lake County, California $20-35
This is my overall favorite Zinfandel of the three shown here. The variance in price is due to its current price at Cost Plus for $19.99. It’s a steal. With its tempting bouquet of cherry and dried florals and it’s blackberry and earthy flavors, it is an impressive, elegant wine. Definitely more pricey, but seems to be on sale in lots of places right now, it’s worth seeking out. Robert Parker rated this wine 91 Points in the Wine Advocate, try to find it, it’s great.
2005 Klinker Brick Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California $13-15
A wonderfully balanced wine, full-bodied with lingering clove on the nose, leading into great flavors of cherry, blackberry and plum. The finish is long and elegant with a touch of ripe tannins dominating.
2006 Gnarly Head Old Vine Zinfandel, Lodi, California $8-10
It’s the long, warm, summer days in Lodi that really give this wine its flavor. For the price it’s difficult to find a better value. This is a spicy, full of berry-flavors kind of wine. Most noticeable are the cinnamon-clove spice on the nose and the black cherry and blueberry flavors in the mouth with a smooth and almost creamy finish.
All of these wines will work well with the dark meat and are soft enough to complement the white meat as well. They will taste even better if you pour on the chestnut gravy and take a few bites of stuffing and sweet potatoes. Enjoy.
One of my many Halloween candle holders, more spiders of course!