December 4, 2008


   Home Page

 News & Features


 Columns & Opinions

   Publisher's Note





 Pop Culture



   Video Games
   CD Reviews







   Music Roundup

   Live Music/DJs

   MP3 & Podcasts





 Find A Hippo




   View Classified Ads

   Place a Classified Ad




 Contact Us

   Hippo Staff

   How to Reach The Hippo

 Past Issues

   Browse by Cover

The Riesling holidays
And a few other bottles that go well with turkey
By Tim Protzman

A few weeks ago I cooked Thanksgiving dinner as kind of a dress rehearsal for the real one.

I hadn’t cooked a complete turkey dinner in at least six years and I wanted the time, space and wiggle room to do it. (Ruin a turkey dinner on Nov. 8 and you can still order a takeout pizza, unlike on the actual day.)

The meal was fine, especially the homemade creamed onions. (Isn’t it always that way? At Thanksgiving one of the supporting cast members always upstages the turkey!)

So, now that I’ve had the dry run I can concentrate on cooking the things I really like. And finding a good wine to go with them.

This year my wine pick for the holidays is Riesling. Why? Because the holidays are is when even the people who buy things like Naked Lady Silhouette Mud Flaps for their big rigs drink wine.

Wine is not very macho. Ask anyone this simple question:

“Name one American male who drinks or drank wine?”

“Thomas Jefferson”   Correct, but he’s been dead for 182 years.

“Frasier.” OK, but only after he moved back to Seattle. He drank draught beer in Boston. And don’t forget — he’s fictional.

“Robert Mondavi.” Yes, but that was his job.

Wine isn’t considered a macho thing. Even Orson Welles, the epitome of intellect and Eastern Liberal Thinking, who fronted for Paul Masson promising to “serve no wine before its time,” was more at home with a highball or a martini. And none of the Rat Pack drank wine.

President Kennedy liked wine but drank manly drinks like Bullshots, a Bloody Mary-inspired concoction made with vodka and beef bouillon.

And besides those two guys from Sideways, there really aren’t any American male wine icons, or even female ones, come to think of it. Yes, Robert Parker is very American, tough and a little menacing like Raymond Burr in Rear Window, but he’s not a household name. Neither is Gary Vaynerchuk or Bill Hopkins or Eric Asimov, although his famous sci-fi author uncle helps his name recognition. What we need is someone big — 50 Cent, Donald Trump, Angelina Jolie — who embraces wine and wants to incorporate it into their brand. Then wine will really hit the mainstream. Maybe we could persuade the Twilight folk to feature a vampire that’s into wine? And do we dare hope that it’ll be a white wine, totally throwing it in the face of conventional wisdom?

In the meantime, drink the Robert Mondavi Private Selection Riesling ($8.99) and the Woodbridge Riesling. Even those marginally wine drinkers, the ones who drink only on the holidays, the I’d-rather-have-a-beer-people, will like it.

The other confusing thing about holiday wine is whether to buy American wine or imported.

Most patriotic Americans probably had a home-grown libation on the Thanksgiving table. I don’t think it’s treasonous to serve a foreign wine, but a nice American one gives you a little extra satisfaction. One exception is Haut-Brion, because it’s owned by an American family.

Here’s a secret no wine person will ever tell you. It’s impossible to pair any wine with turkey. So just stop. Part of the bird is white and dry. Part is dark and fat rich. The skin is tough and crispy.

Therefore most wine and food pairing enthusiasts will suggest everything but the kitchen sink. Personally, I’m going to just buy a turkey breast and make sausage stuffing. This year I’ll serve it with a Barolo, which no one has ever, ever suggested with turkey before. So don’t even try to pair the turkey with a wine. Pair the stuffing. If the stuffing’s got fruit go light and crisp: Beaujolais, Riesling, white zinfandel, chenin blanc and gewürztraminer will do. If it’s heavy and sage-y and full of meat, try a zinfandel or a pinot noir. You could even squeeze in a cabernet franc. Oyster stuffing deserves champagne or a light, un-oaked chardonnay, even a Chablis. Wild rice stuffing is perfect for sauvignon blanc, the earthy, dull, carb-y rice paired with a tart sharp sauvignon blanc will add differential and contrast.

The weirdest stuffing I ever heard about was made from half a loaf of Wonder Bread, four tablespoons of Bell’s Poultry Seasoning, celery, onions, butter and five McDonalds hamburgers, three with the beef patty and two without. They were chopped extra fine, mixed with the other ingredients and stuffed in the bird. They say it was legendary. The turkey juices, the bread, the vegetables and the seasoned beef patty formed a delicious, slightly spicy mix with the perfect moistness and texture.

Along with the Barolo I’ll be drinking Pinot Noir at my holiday dinners, not because it’s the “perfect” match, but because I’m into them right now. The lower-end ones from Burgundy, the Jadot’s the Girardins, Louis Latour and Olivier Leflaive are real bargains now, and will probably drop in price even more.

Here’s some wines I’d have been happy to serve at any turkey-focused holiday affair:

• Columbia Vineyard Yakima Valley Gewürztraminer $11.99

• Chateau Ste Michelle Columbia Valley Merlot $12.99

• 337 Cabernet Sauvignon from Lodi $12.99

• R. Stuart  Big Fire Pinot Gris $14.99

• Qupe Central Coast Syrah $17.99

• Neyers Zinfandel $19.99

• Au Bon Climate Chardonnay $21.99

• J Drouhin Chablis $21.99

• Matanzas Creek Sauvignon Blanc $21.99

• Taz Fiddlesticks Vineyard Pinot Noir $24.99

• Guy Breton Morgon Vieilles Vignes Beaujolais $25.99

• Sonoma-Cutrer $25.99

• Truchard Vineyard Carneros Pinot Noir $27.49

• Ridge Pagani Ranch Zinfandel $35.99

• Nicholas Potel Volnay $36.49

• Anselma Barolo $46.99

11/27/2008 Recession, anti-recession

11/20/2008 Gastronomic recovery plan11/13/2008 A vote for...
11/6/2008 Spooky wine
10/30/2008 Critical darling
10/23/2008 An epitaph of good wine10/16/2008 A wine crime
10/9/2008 All my personalities love wine
10/2/2008 Harvest magic

9/25/2008 Where fantasy meets reality9/18/2008 The mojito cure
9/11/2008 Spend Fall in Spain
9/04/2008 Making a break for it
8/28/2008 Achieving the impossible
8/21/2008 AVA in search of a movie
8/14/2008 Return to seller?
8/7/2008 Wine at the game
7/24/2008 Reviving a star
7/17/2008 Champagne staycation
7/10/2008 Pair vintage with vintage
6/26/2008 Leftover wine
6/19/2008 Fortune favors Opus One
6/12/2008 In the year 2048
6/5/2008 Tea, the original infusion
5/29/2008 Hello old friends
5/22/2008 Ancient in the new world
5/15/2008 You are the expert
5/8/2008 The must-drink list
5/1/2008 Gaming wine futures
4/24/2008 Chronos and me
4/17/2008 Getting lucky
4/3/2008 The daquiri's of spring
3/27/2008 Germans play well with others
3/13/2008 Complain yourself happy
3/6/2008 Operatic wine tasting
2/28/2008 Everything must go!
2/21/2008 His & hers bottles
2/7/2008 Friends in spam
1/31/2008 Warm up the wine
1/24/2008 A drink to them
1/17/2008 Stalking the barking dingo
1/10/2008 Wishes and predictions
1/3/2008 Bit of bubbly
12/27/2007 Drinking blind
12/20/2007 Not fighting for the right
12/13/2007 The liquor store suite
11/29/2007 World of drinkin'
11/22/2007 Thanks for the Napa cabs
11/15/2007 Drinks with Diwali
11/8/2007 Candy Corn hangover
11/1/2007 Drinks with History Channel
10/25/2007 Schooled in Shiraz
10/18/2007 Spooky wines
10/11/2007 Location, location, location
10/04/2007 Shiraz history
9/27/2007 Ingenious appellation
9/20/2007 Small world of wines
9/13/2007 How not to get screwed
9/6/2007 Wine lover's shopping trip
8/30/2007 Bottle surfing
8/23/2007 Lobster goes red
8/16/2007 Emotional tasting notes
8/9/2007 Stop, wine thief
8/2/2007 Be your own sommelier
7/26/2007 You do know your wine
7/19/2007 Booze free association
7/12/2007 Raiders of the sidewalk
7/5/2007 A sustainable buzz
6/28/2007 We are the merlot
6/21/2007 Forgot Dad? Bring booze.
6/14/2007 Jack & Jill and a pail of wine
6/7/2007 Our lady of the Rioja
5/24/2007 Breaking the fast
5/17/2007 What the best bears drink
5/10/2007It's OK to be pink
5/3/2007 In praise of tastings
4/26/2007 Invention-tini
4/19/2007 More 'Mas'
4/12/2007 Futures in a bottle
3/29/2007 Uneasy glass of spring
3/22/2007 Chateau de blech
3/8/2007 Finding new beauties
3/1/2007 Infatuation or addiction
2/15/2007 The extraordinary ordinary
2/8/2007 A glass of sweetness
2/1/2007 A glass of sweetness
1/25/2007 Ham it up
1/18/2007 Cheating on wine
1/11/2007 Burning down the tree
1/4/2007 New Year's hangover
12/28/2006 Sins of the vine
12/21/2006 Kissing frogs
12/14/2006 Wine for horrible friends
12/07/2006 Like dregs in the wine glass
11/30/2006 Gift of calmer shopping
11/23/2006 YouTube for YouWine
11/16/2006 Welcome to wine
11/9/2006 Fine art, supermarket wine
11/2/2006 The geography of grapes
10/26/2006 Please continue to hold
10/19/2006 The trouble with reds
10/12/2006 Making new friends
10/05/2006 TiVo-ing the wine
09/28/2006 From an unknown battle
09/21/2006 Toast to turkey
09/14/2006 Wine for life
09/07/2006 What are Malpeques, Alex?
08/31/2006 Hanging out wines
08/24/2006 Falling into new wine season
08/17/2006 Where has that wine been?
08/10/2006 Bringing out the dead
08/03/2006 The birth of a wine fop
07/27/2006 Slow process of maturation
07/20/2006 The pain of adolescent wines
07/13/2006 Nice day for a white wedding
07/06/2006 Scoring goals with booze
06/29/2006 Beer, it's what's for dinner
06/22/2006 A drink fit for a czar
06/15/2006 A summer of beer and fried clams
06/08/2006 Keep your cool, fool
06/01/2006 The social lubricant
05/25/2006 Water, water everywhere
05/18/2006 Big fat greek wine tasting
05/11/2006 Drinking to the end
05/04/2006 Schooled in the art of wine
04/27/2006 Make a wish
04/20/2006 Immigrant wines
04/13/2006 A pain in the glass
04/06/2006 Got milk?
03/30/2006 Throw a dart and there's wine
03/23/2006 A life of good wine
03/16/2006 Honoring the dead soldiers
03/09/2006 What once was old i new again
03/02/2006 The taste of sibling rivalry
02/23/2006 Wine travels, doesn’t sing
From grape, to barrel to red-tape jungle

02/16/2006 Love and vine
02/09/2006 A dog-drink-dog world
02/02/2006 The winos' mecca
01/26/2006 Date-nite drinks
01/19/2006 Touring eastern wine country
01/12/2006 Wine, Cheese and Granny Smith
01/05/2006 Resolve to try new wines
10 Wines To Get Lucky With

Adventures in and past the Euro-Cave
A Do-It-Yourself Wine Tasting
A Red For Everything
A Red Wth Your Leftovers?
A Tasty Way To Put Wine To The Test
A Year Of Wine
An Around-The-World Holiday
A wine for every holiday

Basking In The Mondavi Light
Behind One Door Is Great Wine
Beware The Hot Bottle
Brandy and the nude beach
Champagne, The Other White Wine
Cheers And Whines Of The Vine
Days of wine and jelly beans
Deep in the heart of Texas
Drinking for your health
Drinking like a newspaperman

Drinking Whites After Labor Day
Finding A Great Medium-Weight Drink (I)
Finding A Great Medium Weight Drink (II)
Gifts for blood, love or money
Grill and sip, sip and sip. Finding the perfect wine for barbecue
Hey baby, stay cool
How The Corleones Saved Wine

In Praise Of An American Wine
In search of the girl next door
Keeping it in the family
Keeping up appearances
Looking back at the heyday of cheap wine
My Big Fat Greek Wine Tasting
The Best Drinks On A Budget
The Highly Drinkable (Mostly) Merlot
The Long, Strange Journey Of Wine
Old French grape in the New World
Olé! to a week in wine
Opening the Parker book

Our French friends — really
Our Northern Neighbor
Poker faces and wine

Presenting A New England Vodka
Presenting The Wines Of Spring
Rewarding Your Support Staff
Schooled In The Art Of Wine
Shopping for Wine Bargains

Sitting By The Fire And Dreaming Of Wine
Slipping A Little Sideways
Spending the holidays in NYC
Spirit World Tales
Springtime calls for wine and ice cream
Sudden ugly mood swings
The new face of fine wines
The wines of fall
Thinking ahead to the holidays
Time To Stay Frosty
Tipples for turkey day
TV worth drinking
What it means to miss N.O.
What To Drink When You Eat Wild
What's Your Wine Sign
White’s OK after Labor Day
Wine Between The Season
Wine for the NASCAR set
Wine is in at the Inn
Wine’ll make you crazy
Wine Works With Red Sauce