Wed | Aug 23, 2017

Wine and Dine: Thanksgiving Edition

Published:Thursday | November 27, 2014 | 11:00 AM
Contributed Photo Thanksgiving The Spatless, a German 'sweet' wine
Contributed Photo Thanksgiving The Canadian Icewine whish was enjoyed with dessert
Contributed Photo Thanksgiving Standing tall in three is the Vina Maipo Reservas wine collection of Carmenere (left) Merlot (middle) and Cabernet Sauvignon
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Typically, we think of Thanksgiving as a US holiday in which we are lost in the moment of turkey and cranberry sauce to reflect and understand the true purpose of the holiday. Marking the emergence of Black Friday, thanksgiving is more than fellowship with friends and family, and is something we can all identify with.

So, what better way to mark the experience than by having dinner with friends? Sans the turkey, (turkey isn't the only way to enjoy thanksgiving), my wine club got together at the Liguanea Club for good food, the fellowship and communion of each other, and of course, to enjoy wine!

We started the evening with a Chilean Sauvignon Blanc just to whet the pallet while we waited patiently for everyone to arrive. The Vina Maipo Reserve Sauvignon Blanc was incredibly beautiful as a starter: light, crisp, fresh and grassy. Yes, I said grassy. It's a very distinguishing aroma very typical of Sauvignon Blanc, but not the kind of smell that would have your allergies ready to set off, just a delicate aroma with citrus-like notes.

The chairman for this particular gathering is a fan of German wines and thought it was most fitting to sample a few. We tried a Spatlese which is German for late picking because these grapes when picked later and contain more sugar which are used to make wines that are sweet. One could argue it's the German answer to a Moscato: extremely aromatic and simply intoxicating.

With orders all placed and food arriving, we sampled Chilean reds and attempted to pair three reds to the various dishes presented. The Vina Maipo Reservas - the Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Carmenere - were the big three that took its place at the table as we dined.

The Carmenere is Chile's answer to the Malbec from Argentina: big, bold and originally from France, but has found home in Chile and thrives there. This Carmenere is an intense deep red wine with notes of currant and plums. You can always appreciate the intensity of the colour of a wine simply tilting the glass against a white table-cloth to really see just how brilliant a colour it is. With a fuller bodied wine like this, you won't be able to see straight through, unlike a Pinot Noir which is much lighter in body, great with red meats as you can imagine, and pasta if you thinking of trying a spread the big day.

The Cabernet Sauvignon, while similar to the Carmenere in colour, differs totally in smell and taste. Think cherries with a hint of chocolate. If you were to blindfold yourself and place the two side by side not privy to anything other than smell, you could tell the striking distinction between the two. What I like about this Cab, besides working well with my crusted lamb, is the long finish. The term in 'wino' language just speaks to the fact that after swallowing the wine, you sense its lingering presence on your tongue.

The Merlot, and the beautiful deep dark red with very similar notes to the cab, hinting cherry, plums and spices, but nowhere near as striking as the Cab, and is ideal with white meats like turkey and the popular meat of choice for the Christmas season, ham.

This trio of wines made for an exceptional pairing exercise with just about anything that came out of the kitchen as our main course that had us both filled and content. But then came dessert.

Basic rule of thumb: sweet likes sweet. The chairman proceeded in fine style to end the evening with Canadian Ice Wine. Whatever you thought of before as a sweet wine does not begin to compete, nor compute, to ice wine. It is a true dessert wine which is made from grapes that have been frozen on the vine. And it was the perfect way to draw an end to the evening. If you can't find Ice Wines, a sweet Moscato will certainly do the trick, or a Port.

It's always great to get together with friends and family to commune, share and most important, give thanks. So plan your own little dinner party and have fun with it.

n I am not an expert, merely a wine enthusiast sharing my thoughts and experiences. Feel free to share your own experiences at wineenthusiastja@gmail.com.