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7:00am Saturday 24th November 2012 in ShuttleXtra
Fancy a drink? Our drinks columnist Sam Wylie-Harris heads across the pond to celebrate Thanksgiving Day (November 22) with some American tipples
A star-spangled feast
A food-loving holiday, there's no doubting the whole of the US will be celebrating Thanksgiving with its usual fervour.
Star-spangled feasts will be planned around the hoopla of the Super Bowl and Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade on the fourth Thursday of November, so why not raise a glass to the foodie party across the pond (which seems to be finding a place in our calendar too) and uncork some Californian wines that chime with the occasion?
Originally a feast to celebrate the Pilgrims' first corn harvest, it's similar to our traditional turkey dinner with sweet potatoes replacing roast spuds, and pumpkin recipes served before or after.
To complement homemade pumpkin soup with a dollop of sour cream, serve an off-dry rose such as Big Top White Zinfandel Rose 2011 (£7.99, www.virginwines.co.uk). A pretty salmon colour, the fresh, juicy flavours complement the sweet, earthy taste of pumpkin. And the appealing circus act on the label will bring some visual delight to the table.
The late Robert Mondavi was a global ambassador for Californian wines and while his iconic Oakville winery still signals top-notch wines (it changed hands in 2004), his Woodbridge winery produces quality wines at affordable prices. To complement Thanksgiving appetisers such as smoked trout pate, cheese dips and deviled eggs, try Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Chardonnay 2010, (£8.49, Waitrose). It's crisp enough to cope with rich hors d'oeuvres, and the tropical fruit flavours with a hint of vanilla and some oaky spice will help perk up the palate before the main event.
Trefethen Family Vineyards produces a well-balanced chardonnay which foodies have been appreciating for years thanks to its restrained style. Try Trefethen Family Vineyards Chardonnay, 2009, Napa Valley (£18.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk), which is delicious on its own, with creamy seafood, and turkey or chicken with roasted vegetables. Green apple, pear drops and stone fruit flavours mingle together without the excessive use of oak, and limey aromas on the sustained finish give it lasting appeal.
But if you're pushing the boat out and want to add extra razzle dazzle to a lobster dinner, Hanzell Chardonnay 2009, Sonoma Valley (£41.83, www.goedhuis.com) comes highly recommended. Not a particularly fragrant wine, the winemaker's held the reins back on the bouquet and kept it all for the pleasure of the mouthfeel. Elegant and silky with ripe pear, honeydew melon, a hint of hazelnut and a mineral element which gathers speed on the lingering finish, it veers on a Burgundian style with a mild French accent.
'Giving thanks' and piling the plate with glazed roast turkey, gravy and sweet potato mash calls for hearty reds to match the weight of the dish.
A trusted label in American households, Beringer Vineyards produces consistently good wines at fair prices. For a soft and gentle cabernet sauvignon, try Beringer Classic Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 (£8.98, Asda). It has lush blackberry and cherry fruit flavours wrapped in a blanket of sweet vanilla and oak spice with smooth tannins.
Zinfandel is one of California's most popular styles of red wine, and while the sweet, light roses are called white zinfandel, they bear no resemblance to these full-bodied reds, with more than 15% abv in come cases.
For a delicious example for those who love to sin with zin, try Bogle Vineyards Old Vine Zinfandel 2010 (£13.70, www.tanners-wines.co.uk). It's intense and well structured with aromas of blackberry and mocha leading to ripe, dense blueberry fruit, chocolate, cinnamon and spice flavours which work like a dream with the richness of a good gravy.
To complement cranberry sides and awesome stuffing, why not pull the cork on one of Sonoma's most well-known brands? From De Loach Vineyards, try De Loach Vineyards Private Collection Pinot Noir 2009, Sonoma Coast (£13.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk), which is a treat for pinotphiles who love the taste of a soft and silky pinot with plenty of sweet cherry fruit, delicate spice and a generous finish.
A giant leap for wine lovers, Stag's Leap Wine Cellars is one of California's superstars that's famous for its cabernet Sauvignon.
To mirror the occasion across the pond (after all, Thanksgiving comes but once a year), try Stag's Leap Wine Cellars Artemis Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Napa Valley (£40, Majestic). Beautifully crafted, Bordeaux fans will appreciate this sumptuous red with polished flavours of deep red fruits, cedar, liquorice, mocha and spice, which glides along gently and firms up on the ripe tannins and savoury finish. Built to last, but ready for the big league.
:: Best buy
Vodka reaches new heights... Stolichnaya has launched an ultra-luxury vodka in an impressive bottle ahead of the martini season. elit by Stolichnaya (£63, 70cl, Harvey Nichols nationwide) is made using a freeze-filtration process and this smooth and silky vodka makes a great dirty martini.
:: Liquid news
Sweet, fresh, smooth or intense? Morrisons has launched an interactive 'Taste Test' to help drinkers decide which wines they really like best, and what/and not to put in their shopping basket. An easy test with three questions, www.morrisonscellar.com is designed to guide tipplers to the right flavour map in the supermarket aisle. And for savvy shoppers, Morrisons has some great savings on brands such as Vega del Rey, Fair Exchange and Wolf Blass, saving either a third or half price on the normal cost (available from www.morrisonscellar.com and in store), from now until December 9.
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