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Thursday, November 4, 2010

Thanksgiving Wines Come Early to Cape Cod

Charlie's Weekly Wine-ings

The weather is turning and I am planning ahead for what wines to serve guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast on Thanksgiving. Conveniently, I was asked to help out at the Wednesday wine tasting at the Belfry sponsored by Cellar 55 Wine Merchants that was exploring what wines to serve with Thanksgiving dinner. Timing is everything and I am again at the right place at the right time.

As always at a Belfry tasting, each of the wines is pared with a food sampling. As this one had a Thanksgiving theme, I had thoughts of pumpkins and dressing running through my head. Since I have the opportunity to taste a lot of wine, and at least per Jan spend too much time at Cellar 55, I had already tasted two of the four wines offered and thus had a certain level of expectation about them. I was in for a pleasant surprise on both the food and wine choices.

Gary Gahl from Winebow Boston conducted the tasting and started us with an Oregon Riesling. My first thought when I hear Riesling was ‘sweet’ German wines, which I never buy. The 2009 Riesling from Willamette Valley Vineyards was not too sweet and was very refreshing by itself. It was pared with parsnip soup with blue cheese. Together the wine and soup came alive. I am not sure I have ever had parsnip soup and would never have thought to serve it with a Riesling. What a nice start.

Next we had the 2009 Willamette Valley Vineyards ‘Whole Cluster’ Pinot Noir with a mixed green salad. Gary explained that in this wine making process, the grapes are left on the stems and then fermented in a large tank where the weight of the grapes themselves performs the ‘crushing’. The same process is often used in French Beaujolais, yielding a light, fruity and very drinkable wine. Kris from Cellar 55 calls this a great ‘porch’ wine to enjoy as you sit quietly in you favorite chair on your porch and watch the world go by.

Finally we got to the turkey pared with 2008 De Majo Norante Sangiovese. But this was not just any old turkey; it was brine soaked turkey breast with a wonderful light sauce. Sangiovese is the main grape in all Chianti and this was a nice fruit-driven wine that complemented the turkey. The Wine Advocate gave it 90 points and said:

"The 2008 Sangiovese Terre degli Osci is an incredibly delicious, full-bodied wine with gorgeous clarity and definition. Made in a bold, fruit-driven style, the wine offers terrific depth and a long, polished finish. This harmonious red is a knockout!"

Often the last paring of the evening is with a desert and I was thinking about pumpkin pie all day. But the last wine listed was a 2008 Domaine Jean Bousquet Malbec from Argentina. Bousquet is a leading organic producer from the Mendoza region. I could not see Malbec and pumpkin pie. The last paring was not dessert, but an exceptional tasting of venison. This big Malbec and powerful meat were a perfect combination, as the flavors mingled and lingered, I forgot all about the pie.

As I savored the experience of these great wine and food parings, I wondered how we could replicate it at our Sandwich Inn. Would I be able to match Chef Dan’s parsnip soup? How exactly do you ‘brine’ a turkey? Would Jan even allow me to have venison in the kitchen? Since Chef Dan isn’t coming to my house to prepare a Thanksgiving dinner, I solved my dilemma by making reservations at the Belfy Bistro for Thanksgiving Dinner. I will get to experience more wonderful parings without all the trouble. I think this will be a new tradition for Jan and me. We hope you will take a look at our Thanksgiving Specials and come join us.

Happy wine-ing,


Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod, Massachusetts

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