“The most asked retail question every year,” laughed Bob Howald of Valley Cheese & Wine. We chatted about what would be fun alternatives, but also easy to find around the Valley.
White wines served at Thanksgiving dinner fall to highly aromatic dry or sweet specimens meant to enhance the turkey and complement the various spices and ingredients in side dishes. Highly aromatic grapes include—yes—gewürztraminer (highest), muscat, riesling, viognier and torrontés. Viognier wines in particular have a tropical fruitcake aroma, a holiday-inspired alternative to gewürztraminer’s lychee nut aromas. At Valley Cheese & Wine (1570 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy., Henderson, 341-8191), try the viognier by K Vintners from Washington’s Columbia Valley ($25).
Rosé always finds its way on a Thanksgiving dinner table because rosé can pair with anything. But this is a fun time to explore odd rosés. Instead of a dry still or sparkling rosé, try a lightly sparkling sweeter rosé. Howald pointed to a bottle of La Cueille by Patrick Bottex ($27), a nonvintage sparkling rosé from Bugey-Cerdon. This wine region of Savoie, France, produces sparkling rosé with a touch of sweetness, made predominantly from gamay, the grape used in Beaujolais. Also seek out brachetto from Italy; Rosa Regale by Banfi ($18) can be found in larger retail shops.
Pairing Thanksgiving dinner with red wines is challenging. The best reds are light, aromatic, dry and fruity. Anything more could overpower the bird or holiday spices. Limited options are Beaujolais and pinot noir. All I could think of was the “little sweet one” from Italy: dolcetto. Howald agreed, and directed me to G.D. Vajra Dolcetto d’Alba ($25). Dolcetto is grown in Piedmont, producing delicate cherry-blossom aromas and bold cranberry flavors. Wine shops and Trader Joe’s will typically carry a dolcetto.
Downtown has trendy places to get a cocktail or craft beer. Where can I find a nice glass of wine?
Beer and cocktails are the dominant drinking trend downtown. Naturally, wine has to fit in somewhere.
Bin 702 Wine Bar is set to open in the Container Park soon. Bin 702 will feature the in-vogue practice of offering a variety of fine wines on tap by the carafe. Wines on tap offer a communal atmosphere similar to beer service, allowing guests to let down their guard and avoiding the pomp and circumstance that so often accompanies wine service.
Interesting by-the-glass options are limited Downtown, but affordable by-the-bottle gems do hide on the wine lists of Oscar’s in the Plaza and Hugo’s Cellar in Four Queens. British sommelier, John Simmons, has been with Hugo’s for the last 30 years. His team is so “old school” they still wear (and use) tastevin chains!