To some, it might seem obvious, but perhaps not to all, so I wax today on the subject for the sake of the still un-converted.
Chardonnay, especially Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay, pairs EXTREMELY well with the archetypal Thanksgiving (i.e. Autumnal) table. Or so I believe. Or so I know, as the case may be!
With the arrival of our 2011 Holiday Pack offerings, we technically have 4 different chardonnays available; each with their own personality, and each with their own singular array of culinary companionabilities.
I’ll begin with the 2009 Mikulaco Chardonnay. Probably the lightest, highest-tone, and most approachable of the four as far as girth goes, this is actually a great wine to close out a meal with (depending on your approach to dessert!). After a meal heavy on meat, starches, root vegetables, gravy, etc.( if you go the traditional American Thanksgiving route), it can often be rather digestively redeeming to dessert with something fresher, lighter, more acidity-driven, healthy in character, but still in keeping with the opulence of the meal. I suggest poached pears! Bosc are best, and if you use ginger, vanilla beans, and chardonnay in the poaching “broth,” you’ll end up with an extremely delicious dessert that pairs exceptionally well with the Mikulaco.
Next, our 2009 Estate Chardonnay. While I generally refrain from quoting other’s reviews, I have to say that Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate got it pretty spot-on when they reviewed this wine (and awarded it 95 points!): “The 2009 Chardonnay Estate is an impeccable, classy wine layered with bright citrus, flowers and just a touch of sweetness from the oak. Crushed rocks and lime peel add complexity on the textured, long finish.” I read that, and I’m immediately thinking pie. So again, another great dessert pairing, particularly if you want to go slightly unorthodox; how’s about rockin’ a Key Lime Pie! The florality matches wonderfully with the bright sweetness of the sugared lime, the oak toast works perfectly with the graham cracker crust, and the citrus-driven acidity is a great cut against the whipped cream. But that’s not the only option for this wine, it’s also a great pairing option for either a pre-meal “buffet” (bread & crackers, hummus (i.e. Haig’s!), dips, spreads, tapenades, etc.), or the earlier part of “the big meal”; think potatoes in all forms, beets, cranberry sauce, stuffing as a side, and gravy, glorious gravy!
And speaking of gravy, here’s a killer way to not only liven up your gravy, but link it to the wine. In a skillet, pour a good dose of olive oil, and before you turn on the heat, dice/chop in as many cloves worth of garlic as you can stand. Then, on with the heat. (By allowing the garlic and the oil to heat together, you get a much more intense infusion of garlic flavor into the oil). While you wait for the garlic and oil to get going, dice and slice a small box worth of baby bella mushrooms. When ready, toss these into the skillet, then pour in a big splash of chardonnay. Then, after you’ve finished drinking, pour in a big splash into the skillet as well! Now, here’s the trick, in order to get the mushrooms to release their juice, put the lid on, and keep the heat steady. Then, once the mushrooms have softened and released, take the lid off, up the heat slightly, and let the juice cook down. Next, you’ll need your savoriness; drippin’s if you’re a meat-eater, tamari or soy sauce if vegetarian. Then, your herbs, primarily sage, sage, and sage. As this starts to cook down even more, keep adding chardonnay. When you’re ready, toss your flour/grain of choice, and thicken up! Perfect over potatoes, with chardonnay in the glass!
Now, how’s about the Jimsomare Chardonnay? It’s warm, round, and full, just like you’ll be feeling by the time you get to the turkey! Seriously though, this is a good pair for poultry, particularly the iron-rich dark meat. So grab a leg, and grab a Jimsomare! That said, if you really want to rock something special, go for ribs, and do them South Carolina style, with the spicy mustard-based sauce. This is an INCREDIBLE pairing with the Jimsomare Chardonnay, balletic in its perfection, without being overtly pretty. This is a get your fingers dirty and drink straight from the bottle kind of culinary heaven, and if you’ve got guests coming, encourage them to let their hair down and dig in! And, for a unique little twist, substitute horseradish mustard for the more traditional yellow, and let the spices and fruit go to work on your palate. That’ll give everyone something to be thankful for!
Now, lastly, the Monte Bello Chardonnay. This is for big kids. This is the real deal. This is just about one of the very best pairing wines for a traditional Thanksgiving-style meal that I’ve ever come across. It’s got weight, so it will stand up to anything you want to serve. Terducken? Bring it. And it’s got acidity, so it will cut through any fat you put in front of it. This will handle BIG gravy. And it’s got minerality, so it will work with any grain you get going (though it’s OH SO PARTICULARLY GOOD WITH CORN BREAD!), and it’s got some sweetness, so go ahead and get a bit spicy if you want to. And most of all, it’s got fruit, so serve it with appetizers, serve it with entrees, serve it with dessert; you’re good to go wherever you place it. Did I mention dessert? The Monte Bello Chardonnay and Pumpkin Pie? Perfection, though watch out how much of that pumpkin pie spice you lay on; too much cinnamon and nutmeg can throw the whole thing a bit off kilter.
In the end, I heartily recommend including chardonnay at your holiday table. Ridge Vineyards has four choices, and one of them is going to be just right for you. Me, I’m bringing all four!
P.S. If I’ve done any kind of good job of convincing you, then head to our Facebook page and vote for Chardonnay! Just click here.