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Snooth User: david4558

Hello Snooth! Suggestions requested...

Posted by david4558, Nov 10, 2014.

Hello fellow wine lovers! I am new to the snooth community, but am finding this platform to be a great place to research wines, as well as read helpful reviews. As an avid wine drinker, I am always interested in hearing other people's wine reviews, and I was wondering if some would help me with my search.  

This year, my wife and I are hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner and I am looking to find a nice (economical) red wine to go with our T-giving dinner. I am more of a bold, big body red wine fan, but I want to get something that others will enjoy with the ham and turkey. I was thinking about maybe doing a case (total) with 6 reds and 6 whites. For the red, I was thinking a Pinot Noir would be simple and go well, and for the white, I was thinking a nice (not too oaky) chardonnay.  

I was hoping to stay b/w the $12-15 price range, which would run about $150-180 for the case. 

All suggestions are greatly appreciated. 

Thanks in advance.

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Reply by figaroinc, Nov 10, 2014.

Hi David4558.  I have a super fantastic, bold, big body yet smooth, easy drinking red for everyone which will satisfy the wine snobs as well. It falls a bit over your price range at about 24.00 but it drinks like a 50-70 bottle. It will be a ball park win with a turkey dinner.  It is called 2009 "Deep Sea "Red".  It is not the Pinot Noir, Merlot or Cabernet.  It is the "Red" blend.  It has flavors of a Pinot Noir but the heaviness of a Cab.  It has been a winner at every dinner I serve for friends and family.  The only problem is that it is hard to find.  As far as a chardonnay.  "Butter" is the ONE!  Amazing at about 16.99 a bottle. Yummy fall smooth buttery carmel oak.

Reply by EMark, Nov 10, 2014.

That's a tough price range, David.  The one Chardonnay maker that you might be able to squeeze in is La Crema.  Their Sonoma Coast bottling can be had for that range.  Mrs. EMark is the Chardonnay regular in this household and that is one of her favorites--certainly not overoaked and plenty of fruit.

Unfortunately, I have no advice for you on a PN in that price range.  I am not much of a PN fan.  So, if you just want to ignore my negativism, that is fine.  I'm used to being ignored.  ;-)

I had never heard of Figaro's recommended Deep Sea Red.  So, I did some quick web searching, and it looks intriguing.  The winery indicates that it is a blend of Syrah,Petite Sirah, Lagrein, Merlot and Mourvedre.  According to Wine Searcher it looks like several retailers are offering it in the high teens.

In the meantime, welcome to the Snooth Forum.  Please feel free to jump into any of the conversations.

Reply by vin0vin0, Nov 10, 2014.

Hello David, here's my two cents worth.  Looking at fairly available Pinots and Chards that are in your price range, are fairly reliable and pretty decent quality for the price, I'd go with a Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Chardonnay and an A to Z pinot. As an alternative, M. Chapoutier makes a very nice white (Belleruche Cotes Du Rhone Blanc) and red (Belleruche Cotes Du Rhone Rouge) at very reasonable prices and both would go well with Thanksgiving dinner.  Good luck!

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 10, 2014.

Have a great $18 bold red for you...Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo...vintage 2010, 11, or 12 will work.



Reply by GregT, Nov 11, 2014.

"This year, my wife and I are hosting the family Thanksgiving dinner and I am looking to find a nice (economical) red wine to go with our T-giving dinner. I am more of a bold, big body red wine fan, but I want to get something that others will enjoy with the ham and turkey. I was thinking about maybe doing a case (total) with 6 reds and 6 whites. For the red, I was thinking a Pinot Noir would be simple and go well, and for the white, I was thinking a nice (not too oaky) chardonnay.  "

Economical, bold, big-body, and Pinot Noir don't belong in the same sentence.

If it's big body and bold, people will tell you it's not "real" Pinot Noir. If it's economical, it's probably crappy Pinot Noir. And if it's Pinot Noir, it doesn't belong on your Thanksgiving dinner table.

That said, Emark has a good suggestion. I haven't had it for a number of years, but La Crema PN isn't all that bad for both the PN and the Chardonnay. But there are also others, like MacMurray Ranch that are economical.

OTOH, you can just forget about PN and get something better! Happy Thanksgiving.


Reply by JlCam, Nov 11, 2014.

GREGT said it all. PN's start at $30 from Oregon and under $10, they are a waste of money.

I am the wine guy at Trader Joe's in Princeton NJ and can suggest two worth your consideration if you have a TJs nearby, a Marsannay @ $19 and a Volnay  @ $21. If not, look around at your local wine store and maybe you;ll get lucky.

The problem with Turkey Day wines is that most wines overpower the mildness of the turkey and its trappings. For reds, how about a Barbera, maybe even a red Lambrusco, even if it is bubbly, also a Dornfelder, even a Petite Syrah. Same issue for whites; try a Gruner Veltliner or even a Vio Verde,

Bon Appetit

Reply by dmcker, Nov 11, 2014.

You can search past Forum threads for examples of differing wine approaches to that meal. Even if the wines might be too pricey they'll give you hints about what might be good matches. Here's one example I wrote about five years ago.

Going with your budget this year, I'd agree with JD's excellent recommendation of the Produttori del Barbaresco Langhe Nebbiolo from the Piedmont in Italy, or also consider a Marques de Riscal Reserva tempranillo from Rioja in Spain. If you want to cover your bets you could do half each. Pinot noir is just so pricey these days--plus many of the sides are going to whack the whatever out of it, too.

For white you could do the La Crema as an easy solution, or go more interesting and do half either Vinho Verde from Portugal or Falanghina from southern Italy, and half a good Riesling Kabinett from Germany....

Reply by EMark, Nov 11, 2014.

David, GregT and Dmcker are two of the most knowledgeable contributors to the Forum.  I give their comments a lot of credit.  They are also two of the most opinionated.  

While I think the idea of a Riesling is terrific, I have to question, though, the idea of Vinho Verde with a Thanksgiving feast.  To my way of thinking the flavors of "all the trappings" pretty much overpower the turkey and most white wines.  I'm thinking here of sugar-heavy yams, cranberry sauce and ham glaze.  One bite of those and that sugar just lives in your mouth for the rest of the meal.  That is why I like the idea of a bigger, fruitier wine than Vinho Verde.  Now, again, Dmcker has a lot more experience than I have.  I have had, maybe, a 12-15 VVs in my entire life.  My experience is that they are bone dry and extremely light-bodied.  I see them as being perfect for light seafood--think sole--but I think they would pale when matched with a robust Thanksgiving feast.

I have had two Falanghina's in my life and, so, again, my opinion is not terribly well-informed.  In fact, I have no opinion, at all, on how well it will match.  However, I do know that it is not particularly easy to find in a retail store.

Rieslings, on the other hand, are very easy to find.

I am a red wine bigot, and the Italian ideas from Jon Derry and JLcam are terrific.

Reply by dmcker, Nov 11, 2014.

Mark--the lighter, slightly frizzante wines (Vinho Verde or Falanghina) are starters, aperitifs as it were. Riesling is for further into the meal. As are the reds. Obviously we'd need to know the whole menu to be precise. Thus I suggested that old thread I wrote in, as well as others around the site that provide pairings with actual menus. I stand by my recommendations this time, because of the budget requirements. The cheaper starter whites will balance out the price of slightly more expensive rieslings, as will the tempranillo come in under-budget and thus balance out the nebbiolo which might be a bit over.

Lots of interesting flavor engagement with that range of wines. Plus more learning about what everyone likes with hints for future tweaks.

Reply by EMark, Nov 11, 2014.

Great idea, Dm.  I understand, now.

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 12, 2014.

Okay, I'm providing wine for my family (or I hope so, or I won't have anything that I like to drink) and I strongly recommend a cabernet franc from the Loire.  Chinon, Bourgeuil, or St. Nicholas de Bourgeuil are often very reasonable, they go well with the gamier aspects of the dark meat and many sides, nice cleansing acidity... and very good examples can be had for about $15 if you live anywhere near NYC.  I know that because I bought Bourgeuil for my wife's family's dinner two years ago and I paid $14.  I also think stronger roses can work well--don't stop drinking rose because it's after Labor Day.  I've got a Sean Thackery rose of Sangiovese called Fifi picked out, but I'm also going to look for a Bordeaux-grape based rose from Mauritson before I call it quits. For that matter, a true Claret--a lighter Bord red--might work and it won't be from a classed growth, so it will be reasonably priced.  On that Sangio end, a Cerasuolo could work, but they can be pricey and hard to find. I don't think big reds like Cab work at all in this context.  Pinot isn't as great a match with turkey as people think, and good pinot for $15 is pretty rare.  Mediocre pinot just misses the point, like mediocre sushi.

Whites?  La Crema Chardonnay fits the bill, but how about Pine Ridge Chenin-Viognier for about $12?  Or an Albarino?  Or a Tahbilk Marsanne, one of my few go-to Aussie wines?  Or a Fiano or Falanghina from Italy, which can regularly come in for $15?  (Reading DMcker's advice after first draft--great minds think alike.) Liveli makes a good Fiano that is pretty widely available. Good sparkling, like a sparkling Chenin from the Loire or a Cremant from Bourgogne or Limoux can be a good alternative at a great price. Good sparkling wine is a great match for food, but people just don't think that way. BTW, Vinho Verde can be light red, so it qualifies as both slightly sparkling and rose.  Woo-hoo!

I'd mix it up with a few different wines, since you are buying a fair bit.  For the adventurous, it's a chance to try different things, for the not so adventurous, they are bound to find something they like. Again, reading DMcker, I think that he's getting at that--you'll learn a bit about your family's preferences.

Most of all, keep people's glasses full and the conversation away from old grievances, politics, or religion.  The point is to try to enjoy the company of your family. If the wine assists, then it's a good pairing.

Reply by JonDerry, Nov 12, 2014.

Good to be reminded of the Bourgeuil I have at my mom's place, will have to grab one next time.

Has Cru Beajolais been mentioned? Perhaps no better pair with Turkey. Lapierre Morgon usually isn't much more than $20

Reply by dmcker, Nov 12, 2014.

"I am more of a bold, big body red wine fan, but I want to get something that others will enjoy..."


To hammer the nail all the way home, this is not what you want with a turkey dinner. It will overpower the bird, and end up in a trainwreck of a clash of wills and flavors with the sides. You'll notice all the reds we've been recommending dance with lighter footwork than some California fruitbomb. I'll once again suggest four different wines, three bottles each (to make sure everyone can at least have a glass of each and more as desired), two different whites and two different reds. Think more European than North American high-alcohol monsters. 

Aside from the enjoyment of the hunt for the bottles, and their consumption, you'll likely score some points as the family wine afficionado, too.  ;-)

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 12, 2014.

DMcker, we are on exactly the same wavelength on this.  I'd divide those bottles up just the same way.  

And today, in the NYT, Asimov did his tasting of wines that might work for Thanksgiving.  Here's a really good quote:

Wines should be nimble and refreshing, energizing rather than fatiguing and low in alcohol, if possible. It’s a long, tiring meal, and the last thing you want are heavy, alcoholic, torpor-inducing wines. Instead, they should be light and exhilarating, the sort that promote salivation rather than comas.

Elsewhere he does mention Beaujolais (top red wine was actually a gamay noir from Oregon) but he specifically calls out Fiano and Falanghina.  Hmm, seems I need to be wearing my tin hat more to prevent him reading my mind.  (Did anyone else notice that he referenced red wine in television shows right after our "The Good Wife" discussion?) 

Reply by GregT, Nov 12, 2014.

`Wines should be nimble and refreshing, energizing rather than fatiguing and low in alcohol, if possible. It’s a long, tiring meal, and the last thing you want are heavy, alcoholic, torpor-inducing wines. Instead, they should be light and exhilarating, the sort that promote salivation rather than comas.

David - here's a word of advice, or rather a few words: Ignore that load of crap from Asimov. It's just one of his many attempts to get on his soapbox to preach about some wines he likes and to denigrate those he doesn't, whether it has any basis in fact or not. It's tedious, wrong, ridiculous, and makes him look like a pompous ass.

Exactly what the hell can he possibly mean by "promoting salivation rather than comas"? Wine has alcohol in it. You drink enough, you pass out. End of story.

However, if you want to know what he means by the above, it's this  - if you look at your wine and it has an alcohol level of 14.2% it sucks and it's overdone, coma-inducing crap that a "real" wine lover would gag over, but if it says 13.2%, its light, refreshing, and wonderful.

That's pretty much it.

Oh yeah - it's also crap if you can detect any oak.

And it can all be blamed on California, because they produce that horrid stuff and in so doing have ruined wine worldwide. They do it because Robert Parker rates those wines highly, but Asimov won't attack him in print, partly because Asimov's knowledge of wine is no greater than that of anyone on this forum. If you point out that much wine in France and even Bordeaux comes in at similar alcohol levels, why that's the fault of Parker and California as well. A good conspiracy theorist never lets facts get in the way, he just incorporates them into the narrative.

So if you want to follow his reasoning, you eschew all wine from the US unless it's from say, Alaska or better yet, Maine, and all wine from France unless it's from the northern or Atlantic regions, say the Loire Valley or Champagne or (set your little heart all aflutter) Burgundy. Just get yourself some thin, green, weedy wine that all your guests will hate and berate them for disliking it, explaining that it's "food" wine. (Just don't tell them that "food" wine means the wine is so bad you have to kill the flavor with the barbeque sauce, extra spicy please.)

Thanksgiving is an American holiday and there's really no reason you can't serve lots of American wine, hell, I'd serve a good Amador County Zin on Bastille Day. Not that I have objections to some of the suggestions above, (other than the Bourgeuil or Chinon) but the fact of the matter is that it almost doesn't matter what you serve.


Well, say you have some turkey - wild or supermarket? And are you eating it plain? Maybe you can pair that piece of meat with some wine and in fact, it's harder to think of a wine that won't work than it is to list those that will.

But are you having that turkey with some gravy? What's in the gravy? No matter what, you just killed your pairing. And then are you having some stuffing/dressing or whatever?

Hmm, probably plenty of seasoning there, lots of strongly-flavored herbs. Bingo, you just killed your alternate pairing. Particularly if it's got oysters in it.

Then are you having cranberries? Please say they're not out of a can - nothing should be out of a can on Thanksgiving. But people douse them with sugar and cook them to smithereens so there's no good pairing there. You having some greens - cabbage, collards, etc? How are they cooked? What pairs with them? Maybe sweet potatoes or squash? How is that prepared? Please please please don't tell me anyone is baking it with marshmallows. If they are, they have no palate anyway so it doesn't matter what you serve them.

Point is that you CAN'T pair a wine with the typical Thanksgiving meal because there's no single dominating flavor - it's a wild mix of different flavors. It's also why you can pair a sweet Riesling with it as well as a sparkling wine.. I'll probably have Syrah, Zin or Cab or all three, given who I'm having dinner with. If it were someone else, for the same meal, I would have Riesling, Beaujolais and CdP, which is what I think I had last year.

However, if you're reading Asimov, which I would suggest you don't do, keep an eye out for his Chardonnay article. He publishes the same article every couple of years - talks about how the "pendulum" is swinging back to lighter, more "balanced" Chardonnay. Like that's where it started from, it left, and now it's coming home. RIght. Too bad because he has a fairly visible soapbox. His buddy Jon Bonne is just as bad but has a far more limited audience with the San Francisco paper.

Reply by dvogler, Nov 12, 2014.

Greg T for President!  Wow, I'm all fired up.  I'm going to go outside and smash something!

Reply by Lucha Vino, Nov 12, 2014.

I second the nomination.  Now I'm going out to look for some burglars to smash!!

Reply by david4558, Nov 13, 2014.

Thanks all for the replies. Sorry I was out of touch past couple days. I have read the responses and am grateful you took the time to reply!

I really appreciate the advice.

And Greg T, your input was very informative and I second the motion for President!

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 13, 2014.

Who knew Peter Bagge based Buddy Bradley on our own GregT?

Okay, I loved that rant, even though I was the one to link to the Asimov article.  I find Asimov to be incredibly self-important and his annoying (but, as GregT pointed out, veiled) anti-Parkerism to be a bit Ahab-like.  (Imagine how much more boring Moby Dick would be if it never actually mentioned what it was they were throwing harpoons at. Almost no one can read it themselves as it is.)  

Of course, most of that rant was aimed at a general school of thought about wine that is bigger than Asimov--Feiring will be feeling left out--and goes well beyond what wine to drink for Thanksgiving.  

I agree with GregT that your meal will probably be so weirdly mixed up that pairings are mostly impossible.  That, to my thinking, is also why lighter wines work better.  Not weedy Burgundy or pallid Beaujolais, mind you.  I don't know what GregT has against Loire reds, but we'll discuss that another time over a glass of Gruner Veltliner (I know, I just wound him up again). 

I do want to point out a little math about the low-ETOH arguments of folks like Asimov et al.  Assume for a moment that over a long meal, plus apps before and dessert after, an average size male (say, just a bit like myself--5'11", 180-ish pounds) consumes, by himself, the equivalent of one 750 ml bottle. Asimov is recommending a bottle per person, so that's fair. Let's assume GregT's wine has 15.2% alcohol and Asimov's bottles average 13%. So how much difference, over the course of a three hour meal is that making?  First, look at the total volume of ETOH.  For Greg's wine, it's 750 ml x 15.2%, for a total of 114 ml of pure ETOH.  For Eric's wine, it's 97.5 ml.  As James Cash Penney knew, that number with the 9 always looks smaller than it is.  But the important thing is the difference between the two, which comes to 16.5 ml.  Here's a way to look at that in plain terms:  It's just slightly more than half an ounce of pure alcohol, which is about half a drink.  Over many hours.  The colleague who sits next to me litigates forced blood draws in DUIs.  Basically, that amount of ETOH burns off in 1/2 hour.  Over three hours, you would feel no differently than you felt from drinking the "lighter" wine.  Drinking a glass of port--say three ounces at 20% ETOH--has the same effect. So skip the port at the end of the meal. But comatose?  It's more than just hyperbole--it's inaccuracy in service of a particular point of view, that low ETOH wines are to be preferred for almost moral reasons.  Wine puritans?  Is that even possible?

So this is why I love doing forensics in my work--there's so much misuse of numbers, pseudo-science and scare tactics in the name of controlling people.  Some of it can be debunked in minutes, other things take longer, but skepticism is almost always warranted when arguments are made by folks who have a viewpoint that goes beyond getting at the simple facts.  

Reply by Richard Foxall, Nov 13, 2014.

EMark, PM me if you need to know anything about the above pop culture references.  I know that you are familiar with Moby Dick--after all, it's been made into an opera (albeit rather recently).  ;-)

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