Our Wine Ambassador, Dave Lofstrom, prepares for his first Thanksgiving in California.
I am not a cook. I can cook, I can assemble ingredients, heat them correctly, and feed myself. But unlike my brother, and pretty much everyone else in my family, I do not have the innate talent to create sensational meals for my friends and family. But this year, I’m making a change. I am going to prepare Thanksgiving dinner. It’s ambitious, but with the help of some recipes, a little wine, and a fair share of courage, I am going to create a lovely holiday spread for my newfound friends here in California.
I’m already freaking out.
I am relying heavily on recipes already pioneered by cooks and chefs so that I can focus on the important parts of cooking. Like making sure the turkey is done.
I’m planning to serve a small first course, to distract from the panic attack I’ll be having in the kitchen. And for that first course I’m planning a bacon-fennel- apple chutney, served on a warm baguette.
This was a no brainer for me. It’s a nice, light way to start things off, and it features two of my favorite foods: bacon and apples. I can also make the chutney the day before and not have to worry about it when I’m juggling so many other dishes.
As for the wine, I plan to pair the chutney with Qupé Grenache Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard 2011 and Qupé Viognier Sawyer Lindquist Vineyard 2012.
The fruit and spice of the Grenache will go beautifully with the bacon and spices in the chutney. The Qupé Grenache is more delicate and won’t blow out anyone’s palate before dinner. The Sawyer Lindquist Viognier will be a perfect match to the apple, fennel, and citrus notes of the chutney. Like the Grenache, this Viognier is lighter and won’t be overwhelming so early in the meal.
For the main course I am planning to keep things fairly traditional: Mashed potatoes, a delicious looking mushroom stuffing (which I can make ahead of time – thank goodness), broccoli (because I love broccoli), a chunky cranberry sauce, gravy, and of course, turkey. I am not brave enough to attempt a whole turkey so I am opting to roast a bone-in turkey breast. I will still have plenty of bird to serve, and although I am sad to be missing out on the lovely dark meat, I want to keep things simple for my first self-made Thanksgiving.
Like my first course, I am going to offer two different wines to match the main course: Qupé Syrah Purisima Mountain Vineyard 2009 and Qupé Chardonnay Bien Nacido Vineyard Block 11 2009.
Both of these wines are simultaneously complex and crowd pleasing. The Purisima Mountain Vineyard Syrah is an elegant expression of Syrah with lovely floral and raspberry notes, making it a great companion to the cranberries and mushroom stuffing. As a Syrah, it will have enough stamina to stand up to the richer parts of the meal, yet won’t overpower the turkey. The Block 11 Chardonnay is the quintessential Thanksgiving wine. It is a great match to turkey — and other birds, for that matter — and has enough versatility to complement the other parts of the meal.
I’ll be the first to admit it (and I’m sure I’ll be chastised for it), but pumpkin pie is not my thing. I know that it’s a long-standing Thanksgiving tradition, but I’m just not a fan. Instead, I will be serving individual pear and fig pies. I have made this recipe before, and it is delicious. The pears and figs make for a tasty autumn combo. And it’s another dish I can make a couple of days in advance, taking more of the pressure off on game day.
Pairing dessert with dessert wine can be a deceptively tricky endeavor. It’s important to find a wine with flavors that marry well with the dessert. In addition to getting the flavors to go together, generally speaking it’s crucial to find a wine that is sweeter than the dessert that you’re serving. If the dessert is sweeter than the wine, the wine will taste watered down and weak.
I’m pairing these delicious little pies with Qupé Marsanne Doux 2011. The Marsanne Doux’s honey and fruit character will be a tasty match to the pear, fig, and spice flavors in the pies. Additionally, the Marsanne Doux will be sweet enough to stand up to this dessert. It should be a delightful way to end the meal.
Overall this Thanksgiving should be quite an adventure, and — hopefully — a success. Either way the wines are certain to shine!