Pairing wine with Thanksgiving? Don’t forget these two things!

 

imageFor Thanksgiving dinner, pairing wine with all of those beautiful Thanksgiving plates can be a tricky endeavor. Look for wines with high acidity and fruit to complement that wonderful Thanksgiving dinner! Acid can cleanse your palate, and fruitiness can withstand all of that sugar and salt.   Here are three essential Thanksgiving wines that are sure to please everyone.

Champagne or Sparkling Wine

This wine goes with practically anything, and I mean almost anything. Not only is it a naturally celebratory wine with its bubbles and pop, it is a wine that is sure to please everyone at the table.

For Bubbly, my favorite go-to-wine is Argyle Brut Sparkling Wine.  Made of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes, it is not too dry but just perfectly dry enough to make even the dry wine drinkers rejoice.  At $26 a bottle, one can probably buy two bottles to share, one at the beginning of dinner and one at the end of the meal.

Perhaps you are interested in trying some Cava or a French Cremant? Most Cava and Cremant are made with the same champenoise method as Champagne, undergoing the same rigorous aging and bottling process in order to make them as miraculous as the better-known Champagne from France.  While indeed the majority of Cava and Cremants employ the same method, some use different grape varietals to make their sparkling wines. They are most definitely worth a try, especially at the much lower price point.

For Whites, you will want a white wine that has a little bit of residual sugar, emphasizing the fruitier side, like the 2012 Hyland Estates Riesling. This wine is fruit forward and has that perfect touch of residual sugar that makes it the perfect complement for Thanksgiving.  It has a beautiful pear, white peach, petrol, and green apple mouth with vibrant citrus and kiwi finish. It’s available online for $28.

Another favorite white of mine is 2010 Schlossberg Alsace Grand Cru AOC Riesling, by far one of the best Rieslings I have tasted to date.  At $35, it is a wine that is sure to please. It is generous and balanced, and it shows beautiful minerality and petrol–all the qualities I look for in a Riesling. It has been rated 91 points by Robert Parker, 93+ by Stephen Tanzer, and 92 points by Wine Spectator.

For Reds, pick a high-acid, low-tannin Pinot Noir, with bright cherry and cranberry flavors over rich spices.  One such is the Southern Oregon wine 2008 Brandborg Love Puppets Pinot Noir.  This wine shows such freshness, with ripe raspberries and strawberries, tha you think you have a beautifully baked pie in a glass. It has some rustic notes that enable it to to stand its ground and complement even the most exuberant side dishes. It is available for a very reasonable $30 online.

Another favorite of mine is a Pinot Noir: 2010 Lemelson Meyer Vineyard Pinot Noir.  This Pinot Noir has been one of my favorite vintages to date, and it comes from the great winemaker, Anthony King, who has consistently made some gorgeous wines. This 2010 reminded me of a springtime fresh fruit basket of raspberries and strawberries, with a touch of light tomato stem giving it that great structure, acidity, and length.  It would be another great pairing to consider for this Thanksgiving weekend!  It is available in 2012 vintage for $48, and if you are lucky, you might find a 2010 in a magnum (a 1.5-liter bottle).

(A secret:  The larger the format bottle, the better the maturing capability of the wine because less of the wine is in contact with air.  In other words, the same wine purchased in a larger bottle will generally taste better.)

I hope you have a wonderful and very thankful Thanksgiving. I am very thankful to have you as readers and I hope that I can continue to provide you with the kind of stories you find interesting and useful.

Happy Thanksgiving!

madewithOver

Top 5 Things to Do in Portland #PDX

Portland is a city of food, craft beer, and wine. It is a place to ride a fixie bike and to ride the public transportation system instead of driving your car, a place where being green is the only color to be, a place where there is craft coffee, fancy donuts, crazy soccer fans, beard-toting men, and amazing cider—all in one city.

 This is my Portland. To get a true sense of what it means to keep Portland weird, here are my top 5 things to do in Portland:

1. Drunken Cycle Tours of Portland with BrewCycle Portland

Taking one of these tours is probably one of the funnest things to do with a group of your friends through Portland!  What would be better than drinking beer, blasting music, and riding bikes through a sunny afternoon in Portland?  We got together a group of six of us and mounted a BrewCycle bike with friends for a tour of three breweries in the area (see photo below). Well worth the $20 per person!  Be prepared to pay for your own happy hour priced drinks, and to have a great time!

Brewcycle Madness: The More the Merrier!

Brewcycle Madness: The More the Merrier!

2. Escape to Wine Country with Grape Escape Winery Tours

If you are coming to the Willamette Valley, you have to go wine tasting. It’s a must to leave Portland for a day and enjoy the beautiful countryside. I highly recommend Grape Escape Winery Tours, which is a marvelous little company that plans a trip for you based on what you like to drink and what you want to see. After a conversation with the owner, he will craft a tour just for you and your group. Groups as small as two are welcome. Also, they provide great little platters of cheese, meat, olives, fruit, and even chocolate so that you can continue to enjoy your wine trip without spitting out the wine! Besides the food with your wine, you also get very knowledgeable guides (your “Escape Artists”), who will tell you all about the history of the wineries you are visiting as well as tell you all you need to know about the Oregon wine industry. Furthermore, this isn’t your stretch-limo kind of tour but a nice van that takes you from place to place. It’s a little less presumptuous and comfortable financially. (Make sure to tip!)

Visiting Wine Country with Friends and a great DD!

Visiting Wine Country with Friends and a great DD!

 

3. Get geeky at OMSI- OMSI after Dark

Science is fun!  Can you imagine being able to shoot off a water rocket, microwave a light bulb, and build a Roman Arch with your friends while enjoying some great beer and wine at night?  This event is held once a month on Wednesdays from 6-10 p.m.  The museum picks a theme and sets up a number of really interesting hands-on science experiments that you are sure to enjoy. Make sure to check their schedule here for the next event.

4. Be a part of the Timbers Army at the Portland Timbers Game

Some claim that this is America’s version of European soccer fanaticism—II couldn’t agree more!  I have sat in numerous seat locations—from ones right on the center midline, so close that I could touch the players as they were doing a throw in; to ones on the side, where you can get the best overall view of the game; to the famed Timber’s Army seats. I have to say, my favorite by far have been the General Admission Timber’s Army seats.  These seats allow you to feel like you are a part of the game with the chanting, jumping, flag-waving community that surrounds this home soccer team. At about $25 a ticket, you really can’t go wrong.  Just be prepared to stand, sing, and yell as others stand, sing, and yell with you: LET’S GO TIMBERS, LET’S GO!

Timbers Army

5. Visit a Food Cart Pod and eat it all up!

You can’t leave Portland without having eaten at a Portland food cart. There are over 500 food carts throughout Portland. Not only are food carts a great place to try native foods from around the world, they are also safe and authentic. This is where top chefs or soon-to-be top chefs experiment with an idea, and if it takes off, they decide to expand it to more food carts or potentially to brick-and-mortar locations.  Food carts are always an experiment in entrepreneurism, low overhead, and passion.  Some stay, some go, some move. Look them up before you hit the streets.

 Some of my favorites:

  •  Nong’s Khao Man Gai, which now has become so popular for its Thai chicken over rice.  This plate comes with a phenomenal ginger, soy, and chili sauce called Khao Man Gi sauce. Nong came to Oregon with $17 and two suitcases; she worked in the restaurant industry until, in 2009, she decided to open her first food cart. A Bangkok native and now Oregonian, Nong now has two food carts and a restaurant. I love her food!  Below you will find a video on how exactly to eat her great food.

  • Gabagool, if you love italian food, you will love this place. I have been so impressed with their Piadina Sandwiches, especially its namesake, Gabagool Piadina. I have yet to try their homemade pasta, but if it’s as tasty as their Gabagool Piadina sandwich, I won’t be disappointed and neither will you.
  • Koi Fusion, the place where you can get Mexican and Korean in one amazing fusion meal. Having initially started with one food truck, the owners now recognize the balance of having not only food carts but multiple stationary (brick-and-mortar) locations. There are now six stationary and six mobile locations throughout Portland, so you are destined to run into one. I personally love their kimchi and would add it to every single item on their menu.

No matter what neighborhood you stay in, there is likely a food cart pod ( a number of food carts all in one area) in your area. Click here to find one near you.

There are so many restaurants, breweries, cider houses, urban wineries. and concerts to enjoy in Portland as well!  However, if I went into all my favorites, you’d quickly shut down this article and move on.  So,… I will hold onto my favorites for another article.  (However, if you can’t wait for that article, look back through my Sacred Drop posts on many such Portland attractions.)

To find out more about all the fun things to do in Portland, check out Travel Portland online.  At that website, you can book your hotel and tickets through their concierge staff and receive discounts to all kinds of great events.
See you soon! Cheers!

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Prosser, the Birthplace of Washington Wine

The New Network:  Prosser Wine Network

From time to time there is a wine region that, while part of the larger Regional AVA (Columbia Valley) and mere miles from a famous AVA (Horse Heaven Hills), seems to get overlooked.

Special thanks to Wine Folly for sharing this map.

Special thanks to Wine Folly for sharing this map

Launched in Spring of 2014, there are 18 wineries and 10 non-wine entities that grouped together to form what is known as the Prosser Wine Network.  This network developed independently in the region to promote and support the wine being made in the town of Prosser. It is all under the tag line “Prosser, the birthplace of Washington Wine. “

According to the Prosser Wine Network,“The Prosser Wine Network is an organization focused on the promotion of Prosser wine within community and beyond. Its formation represented a concerted effort by everyone involved in the area of Prosser and environs, the lower Yakima Valley AVA.”  This network offers a voice that functions as an extension of the tourism office and other location specific marketing destination entities surrounding Prosser—but with a wine industry focus.  The purpose is to network and connect people within the wine industry in Prosser, not to create an alliance or an AVA.

Kay and Clay Simon of Chinook Wines, Jenna Hannan of Mercer Estates Winery , Monica Martinez of Martinez & Martinez Winery, and Gordon Taylor of Davenlore Winery were the main people supporting and leading this effort in building the Prosser brand. In tangent, the Walter Clore Center opened in June of this year through the support of a number of private donors in efforts to promote the Washington wine industry in this area.

For more information on the Prosser Wine Network, please visit http://www.prosserwinenetwork.com/ and be sure that your first stop in the Prosser area is at the Walter Clore Center.  There you can learn more about the AVAs (American Viticultural Areas) of the region and taste some of its amazing rotating wines.  The Walter Clore Center is located at 2140 Wine Country Road, in Prosser, Washington 99350.  Do visit them at http://www.theclorecenter.org/.


 The Prosser Wine Network:

White wines of the Prosser Wine Network:
Albarino, Chardonnay, Chenin Blanc, Gewurztraminer, Marsanne, Muscat Canelli, Pinot Blanc, Pinot Grigio, Riesling (Dry), Riesling (Sweet), Rose, Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Sparkling, Viognier, White Blend, Rhone Blend, Rousanne

Red wines of the Prosser Wine Network:
Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Counouse, Dolcetto, Durif, Grenache, Lemberger, Malbec, Meritage, Merlot, Mourvedre, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Primitivo, Red Blend, Rhone Blend, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Zinfandel

Dessert wines of the Prosser Wine Network:
Ice Wine, Late Harvest, Port

Wineries in the Prosser Wine Network:
14 Hands Winery
Airfield Estates Winery
Alexandria Nicole Cellars
Apex Cellars
Bunnell Family Cellar
Chateau Ste Michelle Tasting Gallery
Chinook Wines
Columbia Crest Winery
Coyote Canyon Winery
Daven Lore Winery
Desert Wind Winery
Domanico Cellars
Gamache Vintners
Hogue Cellars
Martinez & Martinez Winery
Mercer Estates Winery
Milbrandt Vineyards
Pontin Del Roza Winery
Prosser Vineyard & Winery
VineHeart Winery
Willow Crest Wine Estates