You’re a wine expert, right? No? Okay, well, at least you’d admit to being a food expert. Everybody’s a food expert.
Before you turn the page, let me explain. You know what you like; you go to certain restaurants that cook things a certain way that you like. If it doesn’t taste right, you leave and rarely come back. You know how the food you like should taste. Be honest, you’ve been eating your whole life and you’ve figured what tastes good. You are an expert when it comes to the food you like. You know if it’s right and you know if it’s wrong.
So now, imagine that wine is grape juice, with a dash of alcohol. That’s it: grape juice. You pick it up, you taste it and you either go yum or yuck. Okay, maybe sometimes you go, “meh”. That’s okay. Bottom line: you are an expert in the wines you like.
Guys like me? We have two issues: one, we like just about everything. Remember that kid in the commercials, Mikey? That’s me. I LIKE it, or just about all of it. The other issue for wine writers like me is that we drink a lot, I mean, of different wines. Okay, maybe that’s three issues, but let’s forget the issue of drinking a lot and admit that people like me try many different wines. I can tell you from personal experience that a lot of us wine writers have some ADHD issues (okay, that’s four issues, sorry, math has always been a challenge); we like to jump around from wine to wine.
But just because we wine writers are bored by Chardonnay (I’m not, but plenty are) or look askance at sweet wines (I love sweet wines), doesn’t mean you should too. Instead, wine’s flavors and aromas should make you, I mean, you, the one reading this, happy. It should taste good to you. And especially at Thanksgiving, when the highest calling is to make everyone feel comfortable and welcome and to find some way to show gratitude for the utterly lucky lives we lead, there shouldn’t be any pretense to any of it.
You want Chardonnay? Have a rich, buttery Cakebread or La Crema with your Butterball. Or try a leaner, more mineral driven version of the grape with Hartford Court, Au Bon Climat or even Dauvissat Chablis from across the pond. In the mood for Abariño, Spain’s tangy, almost briny white wine? Try Martin Codax, Burgans or my personal obsession, Fillaboa.
Lots of folks prefer softer red wines with their turkey; I think Oregon Pinot Noir is the bomb: Adelsheim, Cristom, Domaine Drouhin, Eyrie, McKinlay, Ponzi and the Kansas City kids at Ayres.
Champagne goes with everything, they say (they’re right), so spring for a bottle of the real thing just this once and find out how equally rich and refreshing great Champagne can be. Meanwhile, I’ll be drinking the thing that gives me great pleasure: German Riesling. I love it dry, slightly sweet or just plain sweet. On turkey day, I drink Donnhoff, Egon Mueller, Fritz Haag, J.J. Pruem, Kuenstler, Moenchhof, Weil, Weins-Pruem, Zilliken and more, like it’s water. But that’s a different issue for another day. For now, serve people what they want to drink and everybody drink what you like.
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