Tag Archives: Wine education

#CesarChavez and the fruit of the vine

27 Mar

Chicos y chicas, Monday is Cesar Chavez Day, and in honor of his birthday on March 31, I’m re-blogging a post about the United Farm Workers, the labor union he founded. By the way, you can catch the new Cesar Chavez movie, in theaters this weekend! And no, I’m not getting paid to promote the film (de nada, Pantelion Films). Here’s the trailer: 


…and here’s the blog post!

In one of my favorite scenes from the movie “Sideways,” Virginia Madsen’s character waxes rhapsodic about wine. Among the many things wine evokes for her are thoughts of the people who picked the grapes.

Image courtesy of Work Permit via Wikimedia Commons

Image courtesy of Work Permit via Wikimedia Commons


United Farm Workers (UFW), the labor union founded by Cesar Chavez in 1962, celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2012.

It would be disingenuous of me not to mention that the topic of labor unions is a touchy issue for some gente. Regardless of where you stand, we’re all rooted in the same vast vineyard of humanity, and this post is presented in the spirit of learning about one chapter in the history of a movement that has had an impact on the wine industry.

One historical point that many wine lovers may not be aware of is that Cesar Chavez himself was a fan of red wine. Perhaps even less known is that the UFW made its own wine six years ago to commemorate what would have been their founder’s 81st birthday. Black Eagle Wines takes its name from the stylized bird on the UFW’s logo.

Image courtesy of UFW.

Image courtesy of UFW.

Although the wine is no longer available for purchase, the union has a limited reserve that it continues to pour at its banquets and special events. A Sauvignon Blanc, a Merlot and a Cabernet Sauvignon were released under the label. At the time the wines hit the market, a spokesperson for the UFW noted that their target customers were young Latino professionals whose parents may have been farm workers.

Today, Cesar Chavez is credited by some not only for establishing better working conditions for farm laborers, but for starting a movement that would inspire hundreds of thousands of workers across various industries in the U.S. to seek better lives for themselves and their families.

So the next time you raise a toast, take a moment to think of everyone who played a role in producing the elixir in your glass, a liquid masterpiece that has been enjoyed for thousands of years by billions of people, our predecessors in the great vineyard of life. ¡Salud!

Happy #StPatricksDay – Green #wine?

17 Mar

Chicos y chicas, here’s an oldie but a goodie that’s still very relevant on St. Patrick’s Day. May the camino rise up  to meet you, and may el sol shine warm upon your face!

Poor St. Patrick. A lifetime of saintly deeds, and all he gets in return is an annual drinking holiday. Tonight, millions will don plastic leprechaun hats while bobbing in a virtual sea of green beer, all in the name of Ireland’s patron saint. Which brings us to the topic of green wine.  In the spirit of St. Patty’s Day, Señorita Vino proudly presents her official primer on ‘green’ wine.

“Green beer? Really?”

1. Vinho Verde

You guessed right, chicos y chicas. ‘Vinho Verde’ is Portuguese for ‘green wine.’ But this Portuguese wine is not green in color. ‘Green’ in this case is referring to youthfulness (see number 2 below), so the correct translation would be ‘young wine.’ Vinho Verde wines can be white, red or rosé. The key is to drink this wine soon after you buy it, because it’s not meant to be aged. A white Vinho Verde tends to be light (a lower alcohol content), crisp (high acidity) and wonderfully floral. Sip a glass as you’re painting your nails green.

2. Youthful Exhuberance

White wine gets darker in color as it ages. In a very young white wine, you may be able to detect a subtle greenish tinge. We’re not talking kelly green, but  a pale yellow with just a hint of greenness. The next time you’re drinking a white wine from an early vintage (2010, 2011), hold your glass against a white piece of paper and you’ll see what I’m talking about. Pretty cool, huh?

3. Organic Wine

This is a topic that stirs a lot of debate, so for the purposes of our ‘green’ theme, we’ll keep it simple. Generally speaking, organic wine in the U.S. is wine made from grapes grown according to organic standards established by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In other words, no chemical pesticides or fertilizers are used, among other organic farming practices. Rules about organic winemaking–or what happens in the winery once the grapes are harvested–vary from state to state. What matters is that drinking organic wine is an individual choice only you and your tastebuds can decide.  I have tasted both organic and non-organic wines, and have had excellent and so-so wines in each category.

4. Green foods and the wines that love them

What would a green wine discussion be without a pairing of wine with verde-colored victuals? For your St. Patty’s Day dining pleasure, here are some wines you can drink with your favorite emerald-toned comidas:

Green salad with avocados: Choose a lighter white wine such as a dry Riesling. The wine’s natural acidity will ‘cut’ the fat of the avocados.

Chile verde:  Here’s where a medium-bodied Zinfandel would complement the meat (and heat!) in this dish.

Green cupcakes: A sweet dessert wine would pair much better with green cupcakes than a pint o’ green Guiness. Just sayin’. Be  sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert. Go for a Moscato or a sparkling Brachetto.

5. If you really must go there…

I believe in freedom of choice, but I also believe that friends don’t let friends put green food coloring in white wine. Yes, that’s me editorializing. However you decide to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, take this bit o’ wisdom to the pub with you on Saturday:

“Wine comes in at the mouth and love comes in at the eye; that’s all we shall know for truth…”

-William Butler Yeats, Irish playwright and poet

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Sauvignon Blanc

20 Feb

Happy almost-weekend, chicas y chicos! You may recall last month’s debut edition of ¡Mucho Gusto!, where I introduce you to a particular type of wine. For those of you who don’t speak Spanish, mucho gusto is what you say when you first meet someone. It’s like “nice to meet you,” but it would translate more directly as “with great pleasure.”

Gusto has many meanings, including “taste” and “flavor,” so consider ¡Mucho Gusto! a delectable play on words and a way to familiarize yourself with wine. So here we go…

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Chile, California and France.

Sauvignon Blanc from New Zealand, Chile, California and France.

HOLA, ME LLAMO: Sauvignon Blanc is a white wine.

MY ROOTS: Sauvignon Blanc was born in France’s Bordeaux region. A bit of trivia – the grape variety hooked up with Cabernet Franc sometime in the 1700s and the result was Cabernet Sauvignon. Today, Sauvignon Blanc continues to thrive in Bordeaux. Because French wines are geographically labeled and not named for the actual grape, “Sancerre” and “Pouilly-Fumé” are 100 percent Sauvignon Blanc wines. Sauvignon Blanc was planted in other countries including New Zealand, the U.S. (California), Chile, Australia and Italy. Robert Mondavi coined the name Fumé Blanc, so if you see this on the grocery store shelf, it’s Sauvignon Blanc.

ALL ABOUT ME: Sauvignon Blanc is a dry wine made from an aromatic grape, hence its distinctive aroma. You may get nectarines, white peach, grapefruit, grass and herbs, gooseberries, and believe it or not, kitty pee. French Sauvignon Blanc may also display a flinty, gravelly minerality. Most Sauvignon Blanc is stainless-steel fermented, so you won’t get the woodsy, oaky notes you’d find in Chardonnay.  It’s also known for its refreshing, crisp acidity.

FOODS I LOVE: You can’t go wrong with Sauvignon Blanc and seafood. The wine’s crispness complements the buttery texture of white fish and scallops. I’ve had it with oysters and it’s to-die-for amazing. Sauvignon Blanc is the ideal wine for vegetarian dishes. This is a great wine for salads, since the herb notes of the wine will match the crisp greens in the salad and the acidity matches vinaigrette dressing. For some Latin flair, pair Sauvingon Blanc with guacamole (the acidity of the wine “cuts” the creaminess of the guac) and spicy dishes like enchiladas and chile relleno. I love Sauvignon Blanc with Peruvian arroz con pollo (chicken in a cilantro sauce).

DO TRY THIS AT HOME:  The beauty of Sauvignon Blanc is that you don’t have to break the bank to enjoy it. You can get a good bottle for $10 – $20. Of course, you can pay upwards of $150 for a classified Bordeaux blend. Some well-regarded labels include: Cloudy Bay, Kim Crawford and Matua Valley from New Zealand; Laville Haut-Brion, Alphonse Mellot and Pascal Jolivet from France; St. Supéry, Kunde and Matanzas Creek from California; Montes, Concha y Toro and Viña Leyda from Chile.

So here’s wishing you ¡Mucho Gusto! as you get to know Sauvignon Blanc. Until next time…



#Vino 101: How to get the most out of a #wine tasting event

6 Feb

Remember when you learned to ride a bike? Once the training wheels came off, the only way to gain confidence and feel less wobbly was to practice, practice, practice.

It’s kind of like that when you’re learning about wine. Not the wobbly part, though. That usually happens when you’ve “practiced” a bit too much , but I digress. In recent years, I’ve made it a point to attend as many wine tasting events as possible. Where else could you choose from 70-plus wines to taste in just a few hours?

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

If you want to train your palate (minus training wheels and crash helmet), get thee to a tasting!  Here are six ways you can improve your wine knowledge at a tasting event. And if you read to the end, there’s a little incentive to get you started.

1. Ask questions. Wine reps at tasting events are generous with their knowledge, so fire away. Ask about food pairing suggestions, the region where the grapes were grown, whether you can find the wine at your favorite bar, and what the wine sells for.

2. Take notes. Keep a small notebook in you purse or pocket to jot down names, flavors, likes and dislikes. This will serve as your handbook the next time you’re buying wine at a store or restaurant.

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

3. Taste wines you’ve never tried before. At an Italian wine tasting last year,  I got to try a premium Sassicaia for the very first time. My palate will never be the same. If you keep an open mind and are willing to try something that’s totally unfamiliar, you may find a new favorite. Or, as in my Sassicaia epiphany, you can sample a high-end wine that may otherwise be out of your budget.

4. Discover your dislikes. The flip side of the above tip is discovering you don’t care for a particular varietal or wine style. If this happens, don’t just rush off to the next tasting station. Pay attention to what turned you off about the wine. Knowing what you don’t like saves you from buying a similar style of wine in the future.

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

5. Make full use of the dump bucket. It’s not rude to pour an unfinished serving into a bucket. That’s why they’re there. And the more you drink, the less you’ll be able to distinguish flavors and aromas. So pace yourself–and eat before you go. Tasting events are all about the wine, and often there’s little to no food.

6. Have a plan. You won’t be able to sample each and every wine at a large-scale tasting, so be strategic. Larger tasting events will provide a booklet listing all the wineries, and sometimes even the wines. Flip through it and target wineries you like, or ones you may not know. Or you may decide to focus on a particular varietal or region.

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

Photo credit: Joey Hernandez

Want to put these tips into practice? If you’re in the area, check out the Family Winemakers of California tasting at the Pasadena Convention Center on Sunday, March 9 from 3:30 to 6 p.m. Buy your tickets online by March 8 and take advantage of an exclusive 10 percent discount for Señorita Vino readers. Full details and the discount code are on my Events page. ¡Salud!  

Vino 101: What the heck is terroir? #wine

30 Jan

You’ve probably heard the word “terroir” a few times during your wine tasting adventures. Maybe the person who was pouring raved about the terroir of a vineyard. Or maybe the dork at the next table was inflicting his long-suffering friends with yet another monologue about tasting the terroir of a certain wine.

Well, “terroir” is a controversial subject, even among wine experts. Simply stated, terroir gives  wine its sense of place. It’s like going to a party and spotting a chulo guy or hot muchacha who have–cliché alert–a certain je ne sais quoi. The cut of their clothes or the way they carry themselves are  little clues  that tell you the person may be from a different town, another state, or even another country.

Old World wines come from Europe and the Mediterranean.

And so it is with wine. Little clues like color, aroma, flavor characteristics and texture will tell you something about the origins of a particular vino. Terroir is the source of these clues.  


To Spanish speakers, terroir may sound a lot like tierra, or dirt. That’s because our très chic French amigos originally coined the term, which comes from terre, the French word for earth or dirt. Soil was once given most of the credit for influencing a wine’s profile. Today, terroir can be defined as the combination of soil, climate, weather, topography (aspect, elevation, slope, proximity to bodies of water) and grape variety that define a particular vineyard.

Photo credit: Wines of British Columbia

Photo credit: Wines of British Columbia

But dónde está el controversy, you ask? Not everyone agrees on the extent to which terroir can be credited for giving wine a particular personality. Modern winemaking gives the winemaker a lot more tools to influence the taste and aromatic profile of wine.

For example, a winemaker in California can craft a Bordeaux blend wine that will display characteristics similar to a wine made in Bordeaux, France.  But California and France are–obviously–two very different places. How do they do it? Everything from how the grape vines are tended to the inclusion of oak and the type of yeast used for fermentation will influence the end product.

Photo courtesy of Liza Gershman Photography.

Photo courtesy of Liza Gershman Photography.

I could go on and on about terroir, but you have places to go, people to see and vino to drink. All you need to remember about terroir is that it plays a key role in producing wine that will have a unique identity depending on where the grapes were grown. Kind of like the attractive stranger at the party. He or she may share some traits with the locals, but it’s the edgy scarf, adorable accent or exotic dance moves that hook you. Oh là là!

¡Mucho Gusto! Get to know Barbaresco

22 Jan

Happy Wednesday, chicas y chicos!

I’m still reveling in the newness of 2014, and in my never-ending quest to bring you snob-free wine knowledge, I’d like to introduce you to ¡Mucho Gusto!, a brand-new feature on Señorita Vino. Well, it’s not literally on me, but you get the picture.

Once or twice a month, I’ll be focusing on a different wine, with a bit of history, flavor and aroma characteristics, pairing ideas and maybe even a recommended label or two. The purpose of this new department is to inspire you to learn about and taste wines you may not typically drink. Some you may have heard of, others not, but I promise you’ll learn something new, even about wines you already drink.

So without further ado, heeeeeeeere’s Barbaresco!


HOLA, ME LLAMO: Barbaresco is a red wine made from the Nebbiolo grape.

MY ROOTS: Barbaresco hails from the Piedmont region in northwest Italy. It’s a DOCG wine (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), the highest quality ranking for Italian wines. Bear in mind that California, Chile and Mexico also make wine from the Nebbiolo grape, but the wine can only be called Barbaresco if it’s produced in designated districts in Italy’s Piedmont region.

ALL ABOUT ME: Barbaresco is a dry wine known for having softer tannins than its “cousin,” Barolo, an Italian wine also made from Nebbiolo grapes. For this reason, Barbaresco is considered by some to be easier to drink than Barolo. Because the wine is aged in wood for a maximum of two years, you may smell cedar or oak. Barbaresco has lush berry and plum aromas, along with floral notes of violet and spices such as vanilla and licorice. This is a full-bodied wine, which means it will feel heavier on the palate and have a higher alcohol content.

FOODS I LOVE: Because of the tannins and body, Barbaresco pairs nicely with the traditional meat and game stews of northwestern Italy. Want a little Latin sabor? Pair it with carne asada, seco de cordero (Peruvian lamb stew), carnitas or roast pork. If you love a good charcuterie plate as much as I do, try it with salami,  mortadella, and if your arteries can handle it, lardo di Colonnata.

DO TRY THIS AT HOME: Expect to pay anywhere from $14 to $400 or more for a bottle of Barbaresco. You can get a good one for $30-$60. Some respected labels include: Ceretto, Gaja, Pio Cesare, Bruno Rocca and Tenute Cisa Asinari dei Marchesi di Gresy.

Now that you’ve met Barbaresco, what do you think? Is it a wine you think you’ll try? Are there other wines you’d like to see in a future ¡Mucho Gusto!? Share your comments – I’d love to hear from you.


Vino 101: What to do when a sommelier hands you the #wine cork

16 Jan

Darlings, Señorita Vino is happily swamped with work this week, so I’m reblogging a popular post from 2012 that answers the question, When I’m in a restaurant, what am I supposed to do with the wine cork when my server hands it to me? Enjoy!

You’ve ordered vino at a restaurant and your sommelier presents you with the cork after she’s opened the bottle. You: a) Give it a sniff b) Take a look at it c) Ignore it–you just want to try the wine d) Pop it into your purse or pocket for your wine cork bulletin board project.


If you chose b, you are correct! You need to eyeball the little guy.

Most of us may instinctively opt for taking a whiff. After all, wine is about aromas and flavors, no? And didn’t Mr. Howell sniff his wine corks on “Gilligan’s Island?” (NOTE TO YOUNGER READERS: “Gilligan’s Island” was a popular TV sitcom back when Señorita Vino was just a chiquita. NOTE TO AGELESS READERS: Ever wonder how the Howells managed to get wine delivered to a desert isle in the pre-Internet days?)


As I’ve always said, sometimes the wine world is full of contradicciones. Some folks recommend smelling the cork to determine whether your wine is tainted with TCA, a chemical compound that can originate in cork and can ruin wine with a musty, “wet dog” aroma. This is what people mean when they say that a wine is “corked.”

A sommelier and trained server, however, can usually detect cork taint by smelling the wine, not the cork.

So why should you look at the cork? To make sure it’s intact and not disintegrating. A crumbly cork is  a dry cork, which can allow oxygen into your wine, causing off-aromas as the wine begins to break down. How’d the cork get dry in the first place? Most likely because the bottle was stored upright instead of on its side. During prolonged storage, corks that have  no contact with the wine eventually will dry out.

Oxidized wine will not kill you, nor will the dried-out cork particles that may be floating in your glass. Nor will TCA, for that matter. But you’re paying for the wine and you want it to taste right, so don’t be afraid to send it back if the cork is falling apart and your wine tastes a bit off.

If you see crystals clinging to the bottom of the cork, don’t panic – the wine is perfectly fine. Those are known as wine crystals, wine diamonds, or tartaric crystals. See my recent post, “What are those crystals doing at the bottom of my wine glass,” for the scoop on wine diamonds.

After bottling, Sorensen gathers friends for a "waxing party," where guests seal bottles with decorative red wax.

Last but not least, examining the cork was once an assurance that you weren’t getting a counterfeit bottle of wine. Most wineries print their logos on the cork, so making sure the cork matched the label was one way to make sure you weren’t getting fleeced.

This doesn’t apply much today, given the sophisticated skills of criminals like Rudy Kurniawan, the recently foiled Los Angeles wine counterfeiter who produced faux fine wine using fake labels, bottles and corks–and crappy wine. Also, it takes a trained expert in fine wines to recognize all the indicators that a wine is an elaborate knock-off.

So there you go, chicas y chicos. Señorita Vino just saved you from being the kook at table 4 with the sniffing fetish. De nada.


#Vino 101: Five #wine tasting basics

9 Jan

So how ’bout those New Year’s resolutions?

Wait! Come back! This isn’t about guilt trips.

It’s about the trips you take to your favorite wine bar or winery. One of my New Year’s resolutions for 2014 is to taste more wine. If that sounds more doable than dragging yourself to the gym each morning at 5, here’s a five-step wine tasting formula that just may inspire you to join me.


The five S’s: See. Swirl. Sniff. Sip. Spit.

1. See. How a wine looks can tell you a lot about what’s in your glass. For example, the younger a white wine is, the paler it looks. Conversely, the older a red wine is, the lighter in color it will appear. More advanced tasters may be able to tell what type of grape the wine is made from by how it looks, e.g., a Cabernet Sauvignon will look inky, while a Pinot Noir will appear more clear.


2. Swirl. When you swirl wine around in your glass, you’re releasing the little odor molecules that give wine its flavor and aroma. The only wine you don’t want to swirl is a sparkling wine. Exposure to air will cause the wine to lose its fizziness and some of its  flavor characteristics.


3. Sniff. Smelling a wine can give you more clues about its origins and how it was made. If you’re smelling vanilla, cedar or tobacco, it’s an indicator that the wine was aged in oak barrels. If you’re smelling a lot of fruit, it’s possible the wine comes from the New World, or a winemaking region outside of Europe. Mineral aromas like gravel, flint or wet stone may mean the wine is made in the Old World or European style.


4. Sip. Notice I said sip and not gulp. A smaller sip allows you to discreetly swirl the wine around in your mouth so that you can pick up more aromas, and thus  get a better sense for the wine’s flavor.

5. Spit. You’re probably wondering why anyone would want to waste perfectly good wine. I’ll drink to that! But if you overdo it, your ability to distinguish flavor characteristics plummets. It’s like meeting a chulo guy (or hot señorita) in a bar. The more you drink, the less likely you’ll be able to tell a winner from a stalker/TV Guide hoarder. Save the ambitious drinking for dinner. And make sure you have a ride home. Preferably not from aforementioned serial killer/Beanie Babies doll collector.


Now go forth and taste, chicas y chicos. And if you need a motivational group to help you achieve this most grueling of New Year’s resolutions, you know where to find me. ¡Salud!


Happy #NewYear! How to open a #Champagne bottle

30 Dec

Happy New Year, darlings! Ring in 2014 by showing that Champagne bottle who’s boss. By popular demand, here’s a post on how to uncork a sparkling wine bottle in five easy steps without losing an eye, your dignity, or a close amigo. Cheers and may your glass be always full in the New Year!

Step 1: Remove the foil.

Some sparkling wine bottles will have a small tab, much like a bottle of olive oil or balsamic vinegar, that makes it easier to remove the foil.

Step 2: Remove the cage.

Six twists is all it takes.

That wire you see at the top of the bottle  is called the cage. Find the little piece of metal that looks like a twisted loop, pull it straight and untwist it six times so that the cage opens. Fun fact: Every twisty loop on every bottle of bubbly in the world takes six to six-and-a-half turns to come loose.

Step 2a: Wipe the bottle dry with a dish cloth.

Condensation may cause the bottle to be slippery. You don’t want that. Take a dish cloth or towel and wipe off some of the moisture so that you can get a good grip.

Step 3: Hold the bottle at an angle and cover the cork firmly with one hand.

Take note: cover the cork, don’t pull on it.  You’re preventing the cork from going flying by placing your hand on top of the bottle and pressing down firmly, or, as my mother would say, sin asco.

Step 4: Turn the bottle gently while keeping a firm grasp on the cork.

Twist the bottle, not the cork., you heard right. You’re not pulling on the cork. Trust me – it has all the motivation it needs to dislodge. Instead, you’re rotating the bottle itself while firmly grasping the cork until you feel pressure escape from the bottle. Make sure the bottle is not pointing at anyone, yourself included! It’s important not to panic here, chicas y chicos. Ideally, you should hear a fiesta-inducing pop, not a heart-attack-inducing BANG.

Step 5: Keep the bottle tilted unless you’ve  just won the Monaco Grand Prix.

What happens when you hold a just-opened bottle of sparkling wine upright? Two words: Champagne volcano. So resist the urge to turn the bottle upright once the cork comes off. Unless of course you’re christening a new cruise ship, winning the World Cup, or channeling F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald.

Wasn’t that easy? Before your New Year’s bash, you may want to practice uncorking the bubbly a few times, or with close friends who’ll still speak to you if you inadvertently shower them with a mini-Old Faithful.

¡Feliz año nuevo!

A disclaimer:

I took artistic liberty in using the word ‘Champagne’ in this post. The only sparkling wines that can be called Champagne are those that are made in the Champagne region of France. Generally speaking, all others can be considered ‘sparkling wine.’

8 #Thanksgiving #wines for all budgets

27 Nov

It’s the day before Thanksgiving. The day that feels as if no one has gone grocery shopping the entire year. The day that plays out like an epic flash mob at grocery stores across the nation, with armies of people seemingly synchronizing their smart phones for  3 p.m. to begin spontaneously stocking up for the apocalypse.

This is not the day you want to stress out about finding the right wine for your Thanksgiving  fiesta, chicas y chicos. Because Señorita Vino loves you mucho, here’s a quick guide to help you shop for wine this week.

And in the interest of El Full Disclosure, none of the wines mentioned here paid me for the illustrious privilege of being featured on this list. In fact, I purchased these wines with my own hard earned dólares.

White Wines

1. Chateau Ste. Michelle Riesling 2011. $6.99. This wine is off-dry, so you’ll get some sweetness on the palate. You’ll also get lovely peach and citrus notes with a hint of minerality. Riesling is a wine that “plays well with others,” so you’ll be able to pair it with a variety of Thanksgiving dishes.


2. Blue Fin Gewürztraminer 2012. $3.99 You’ll get a bouquet of white florals and some spicy peach notes, along with light sweetness on the palate. The finish is a little on the short side, but hey, it’s $3.99!

Image 2

Like your white wines dry? Here are a couple of alternatives:

2. Zocker Paragon Vineyard Gruner Veltliner 2010. $19.00  This one’s a winner; I’ve been enjoying its delicate melon and fruity aromas all year long. There’s a crisp acidity and a lovely minerality that would complement your turkey, turducken, or if you’re so inclined, tamales.


Zocker Paragon Vineyard Riesling 2009. $20.00  This Central Coast version of a French Alsatian classic has an elegant, peachy flavor with the typical Riesling petrol aroma. It has a lingering, clean mineral note and will complement just about any Thanksgiving dish, including spicier foods that appear on multicultural Thanksgiving menus such as my own.

ZRiesling NV

Red Wines

1. Estancia Pinot Noir 2012. $12.99  This is a fruity Pinot Noir that’s easy to drink and pairs well with a variety of foods, which is why Pinot Noir is one of my favorite Thanksgiving wines. And the price is right, too.

Image 3

2. Argyle Pinot Noir 2012. $27.00 ($19.99 at Trader Joe’s).   After spending last September in Oregon’s Willamette Valley for Señor Jim’s family reunion, I’m convinced that some of the best New World Pinots come from Oregon. You’ll get raspberries, red cherries and a touch of spice with mild tannins.

Image 4

3. A Portela Mencía 2011. $16.99. If you want to add some international flavor to your Thanksgiving feast, this Spanish blend is the ticket. Gorgeous black fruit with hints of violet and and a whisper of vanilla. You’ll enjoy granite minerality and a lingering finish.


4. Beaujolais Nouveau. You should still be able to find Beaujolais Nouveau out there, which has become a bit of a tradition with the typical American Thanksgiving dinner. Prices vary, and if you want a quick and easy-to-understand story on Beaujolais Nouveau, check out Vino 101: Beaujolais Basics.

No matter what’s in your glass, may you enjoy a happy Thanksgiving in the company of those you love most.



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