Pre-Valentine’s Day Truffle and Wine Pairing

(Thursday, February 6th from 7-9 p.m. — $30/person…..$24 for Grape Nuts) – Just in time for Valentine’s Day, we’re excited to host our annual Truffle and Wine Pairing featuring locally made Blue Moon Truffles paired with an incredible array of wine from around the globe. Ever had Brachetto with a salted caramel truffle, Barolo Chinato with a 72% Cacao truffle, or a chipotle spice truffle paired with a big, fat, jammy Zinfandel?  Now is your chance to experience these incredibly delicious combinations of flavors along with 4 other pairings — that equals 7 different truffles paired with 7 different wines!

All of this will take place in the seated comfort of the Table Wine Classroom and as with all of our seated, after hours events, pre-pay is required.  Stop by or call us at 828.505.8588 to get your spot for this limited seating event.  Due to our advanced planning needs for this event, refunds can only be made for cancellations made within 48 hours of the event.

Wine dinner in action

Wine and Food Pairing 101

SOLD OUT!  We have a waiting list going, and we often get cancellations, so don’t hesitate to call us at 828.505.8588 to get your name on the list.

It’s been awhile since we held our last wine and food event at the store, and we’re really excited about this one.  It will take place on Thursday, August 23 from 7 to 9 p.m., and Les and Barb Norman will again be our Chefs de Cuisine.  They’re just back from a culinary trip to New Orleans where they dined at some of the city’s top restaurants and they’ve planned a wonderful, 5 course, small plate tasting menu, and we’ve picked out wines to go with each course.  Keep in mind that New Orleans cuisine is not all gumbo and jambalaya – some of the best restaurants in the city serve tremendous French-inspired cuisine using simple, fresh ingredients jazzed up with sauces and accompaniments.

If you’ve never been to one of these tastings at the store, keep in mind that it’s pretty much like going to a restaurant for a wine dinner.  We have tables and chairs, and you will be served each course along with a 2.5 ounce pour of each wine, and the average retail cost on the wines is $30 per bottle.  You will leave full, happy and with a better understanding of the interplay between wine and food.

The cost is $60 per person or $50 if you’re a Grape Nut and is all inclusive.  The menu and wines are listed below.  Please call us at the store at 828.505.8588 to reserve your spot and pre-pay.

1. Grilled Watermelon Salad
 Garden Greens and Tomatoes
Paired with 2011 J.J. Prum Riesling Kabinett

2. Grilled Romaine Salad
Pine Nuts, Black Forest Lardons, and Parmesan
Paired with 2011 Domaine du Bagnol Cassis Rosé

3. Gnocchi in Cream Sauce
 Truffle Cream Sauce with Parmesan
Paired with 2008 Van Duzer Pinot Noir “Estate”

4. Braised Pork Belly
Smoky Tomato and Cilantro Broth and Baby Vegetables
Paired with 2009 Chateau les Barraillots Margaux

5. Frangipane Apple Tart
Paired with 2009 Chevalier du Pastel Sauternes

Fresh, Local, Organic Veggies

Our little farmer’s market is back on Saturdays at Table Wine, as my good friend Tom Kousky has harvested his first vegetables of the season.  I have been eating them, juicing them and thoroughly enjoying them for about two weeks now. Tom uses absolutely zero agro-chemicals on his crops and he has been at it for close to 35 years – he knows what he’s doing and his produce tastes so, so good and is super-packed with nutrients.

Stop by this Saturday to pick some up for yourself……..and taste some wines too!  Cash or check only please.  The current list of available vegetables is listed below with the pricing.  As we get deeper into the summer, the roster of goods will increase. If the email link above doesn’t work, you can email me atjosh@tablewineasheville.com.

Cilantro – $2.00/bunch

Lettuce – $2.50/huge head

Yellow squash – $2.50/bag of 4

Zucchini squash – $2.50/bag of 4

Potatoes – $2.50/big bag

Spinach – $2.50/bag

Kale – $2.50/huge bag

Rainbow chard – $3.00/huge bag

Beets – $3.00/big bag

Collard Greens – $3.00/huge bag

Cucumbers – $4.00/bag

Wine dinner in action

Wine and Food Pairing 101 – Focus on California

Our next wine and food pairing event will take place on Thursday, May 24 from 7:00 to 9:00, and this time we’ll be pairing the bright and fresh flavors of California fusion cuisine with some outrageously good wines from the Golden State.  Les and Barb Norman will be our chefs de cuisine again, and we’ve teamed up to create an adventurous and delicious menu of small plates and wines.

If you’ve never been to one of these events at the store, it’s quite a unique experience as the store is transformed into a restaurant of sorts.  With our movable wine racks, we are able to “upfit” the store with tables and chairs and we provide full table service – that means we serve you each plate with each wine.  I  talk briefly about each course and each wine and why I feel they work together.  At the end of the night, you will leave full, happy and more educated about the way that wine and food compliment one another.

Take a look at the menu and call us quickly at 828.505.8588 to reserve your spot – we had 8 folks on the waiting list last time!  The cost for the event is $60 per person or $50 if you’re a Grape Nut, and the price is all inclusive.

1. Roasted Zucchini Stack
with Ricotta and Zucchini Pesto
Paired with Elyse L’Ingenué (Marsanne, Roussanne, Viognier Blend)

2. Yellow Heirloom Tomato Gazpacho
With Jumbo Lump Crab Salad
Paired with Breggo Cellars Pinot Gris 

3. Mushroom Bread Pudding
Flavored with Truffle Oil
Paired with Calera Pinot Noir

4. Red Wine Braised Chicken
With Black Rice and Glazed Carrots
Paired with Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon “Estate”

5. Barb’s Strawberry Shortcake
With Almond Shortbread and Basil/Lime Syrup
Paired with White Knight Moscato

Northern Italian Wine and Food Experience

Our last small plate food and wine pairing was a huge hit, and we’re extremely excited about the next one.  All of the dishes will be prepared by Les and Barb Norman again……….those of you who were with us last time can attest to the fact that they know how to cook extremely well and we know how to pick out great wines to go with their culinary creations.  Our next wine and food event will focus on the wines and good of Northern Italy, including the regions of Piemonte and the Veneto.  The event takes place on Thursday, April 19 at Table Wine beginning at 7:00 and going until about 9:00.  The cost is $60/person or $50 if you’re a Grape Nut and this price is all inclusive.

For these events, the store is transformed into a restaurant of sorts with full table and wine service so that you get to actually enjoy each course with the selected wine.  The goal is to educate you about the way wine and food work together, but we also promise that you’ll have a good time.

We’ve put together a great small plate menu paired with a wonderful selection of wines.  Each plate is accompanied by a 2 ounce pour of each wine, and we promise you that you’ll leave sufficiently full, happy and more educated about the way that wine and food work together.  Please read below carefully:

Table service will start promptly at 7:00 p.m., so it’s a good idea to get to the store 10 or 15 minutes early. 

Reservations can be made via phone only please and pre-payment is required.  Call us at 828.505.8588 to reserve your spot. 

If you should need to cancel your reservation, please call within 48 hours of the event and we will issue you a refund.

THE MENU

1. Antipasto Sampler
 Italian Meats, Aged Parmigiana and Balsamic Glazed Onion

Paired with Belstar Prosecco 

 

2. Bruschetta Two Ways
Zucchini Pesto, Ricotta and Roasted Bell Pepper
Oil Poached Tomato and Basil

Paired with Cordero di Montezemolo Roero Arneis 

 

3. Chicken Liver Mousse on Toast
With Fennel Gelée

Paired with Corte Majoli Amarone della Valpolicella 

 

4. Beef Cheek Ragu Over Fresh Fettucine
With Aged Parmigiano Reggiano

Paired with Paitin Barbaresco “Sori Paitin” 

 

5. Hazelnut and Chocolate Tart

Paired with a Surprise Wine You’re Gonna’ Love!

Great Wines For Spring Grilling

Spring has arrived in Asheville, and it’s time to wake your grill up from its winter hibernation.  There’s something very primal about cooking over an open fire, and the flavors that grilling adds to meats and vegetables calls for a certain type of wine………generally of the red category!  Here’s your foolproof guide to making sure that you pick the right wine to go with your steak, barbecued chicken or ribs, or for the vegetarian and vegan set, vegetables.

The quintessential, fool proof wine for grilling red meat is Red Zinfandel.  It’s rich, bold and spicy flavors really compliment beefy flavors.  If you’re looking for a great value, try Marietta’s Old Vine Red which is always a Zin-heavy blend with smaller amounts of Petite Sirah, Barbera and several other grapes.  There’s always Cabernet Sauvignon and Malbec, but those been done a million times and work really well, but it’s fun to be  more adventurous.  Try a Tempranillo based wine specifically from Spain’s Ribera del Duero zone.  One of my favorites is from Federico, a small producer whose wine is loaded with rich black cherry and blackberry fruit and a subtle peppery nuance.  Season your beef liberally with black pepper and get ready for a flavor explosion.

If barbecue sauce is on the menu, whether it’s slathered on chicken or pork, there are a number of great wine pairings, but one of my favorites is a rich, spicy, sweetly fruited Spanish red.  Try the Montsant from Mas Donis for a wonderful wine and food experience.  The wine blends Garnacha with Syrah to create a jammy, fully fruited, peppery red wine that just loves bbq.  Even better, it can be found for around $15 at small wine shops around Asheville.  Another good pick would be a richer, fuller bodied California Pinot Noir.  Try the Pinot from Banshee as it blends fruit from top sites in Sonoma County to create a wine bursting with ripe cherry, strawberry and vanilla notes.

If meat isn’t your thing, that’s ok, as grilled mushrooms and vegetables are absolutely delicious on the grill.  For earthy, grilled portobellos, try marinating them in olive oil, balsamic and herbs and pair with a fruity, juicy Beajolais.  I love the one from Jean-Paul Brun, as it has lovely notes of ripe red cherry along with subtle earthy notes.  For grilled peppers or green veggies, a white wine is typically the way to go.  A New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, with its tangy, grapefruit and lime notes is a sure bet.  Try the one made by Spy Valley out of Marlborough, New Zealand.  Of course, at the end of the day, you should always drink whatever you like with whatever you like to eat, but if you want the flavors of your grilled dishes to be harmonious with the flavors of your wine, it’s a good idea to stick to these general guidelines.  Happy grilling, happy eating and happy drinking in Asheville this spring!

Wine dinner in action

Classic Wine and Food Pairing

SOLD OUT!

Table Wine will be transformed into a restaurant on Thursday, March 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. as we explore the way that food and wine work together.  If we do our jobs properly (and we will), you will come away from this event with an understanding that when paired correctly, wine makes food taste better and food makes wine taste better.

Our guest chefs for the evening will be Barb and Les Norman who cook so well that words don’t do it justice.  Les used to own and cook at a restaurant in the D.C. area and Barb is a trained chocolatier and pastry chef – they know what they are doing! This will be a small plate/small taste pairing experience, but you will not leave hungry.  The emphasis is on learning about the way that wine and food work together, but we’re not evil – you will get your fill!  The cost is $60/person or $50 if you’re a Grape Nut and RSVP and pre-payment are required please.  Call us at 828.505.8588 to reserve your spot.

 The Menu 

1. Maple-Glazed/Citrus Cured Salmon w/Brioche

Thierry Triolet Champagne Brut

2. Goat Cheese Souflée w/Arugula and Creamy Dijon Dressing

Lucien Crochet Sancerre

3. Bacon-Wrapped Country Paté

Chateau Cambon Beaujolais

4. Short Rib Boeuf Bourgignon w/Potato and Parsnip Purée

Summers Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley

5. Biscotti Two Ways

Wine to be determined, but it will be something sweet!

Best Wine Tasting Asheville

Recipes From Farmer’s Wine Dinner

Our first Farmer’s Wine Dinner at the store on Thursday, September 29 was a huge success!  We’ve done many wine dinners at the store in the past, but this is the first time where we didn’t have the food catered in meaning that the Chef de Cuisine was none other than us………along with the help of our good friend and customer George Lowe.  As you can see below, it was a packed house and thank goodness a rousing success!  Thanks to all who came out to support small farmers and to enjoy the products of their labor.  Below, you will find the recipes for all of the dishes prepared that night.  Keep on drinking and eating well in the universe that is Asheville!

Wine Dinner

Asheville Food and Wine Lovers at Table Wine

Slow Roasted Pork in Brown Spices

You will need:

2 pounds pork of your choosing (I used organic loin and boneless spare ribs, but butt or shoulder work well too, especially if you’re making more)

4 tbls vegetable oil

2 tbls chile powder

1 tbls cumin

1 tbls oregano

1 tsp coriander, nutmeg and cinnamon

1 onion quartered

4 cloves of garlic smashed

Handful of cilantro

1 lime, halved

2-3 cups of chicken stock

Instructions:

1. In a large skillet, heat 2 tbls of oil over medium high heat.  Cut pork into chunks, salt and pepper and add to skillet.  Brown on all sides and then remove to bowl.

2. While your pork is searing away, add 2 tbls oil to your pressure cooker and bring up to medium heat (oh yeah, you’ll need one of these too……..we got ours at Bed, Bath and Beyond for $30 or so).  Once the oil is pretty hot, add all of your spices and stir in with oil.  Add garlic, onion and cilantro and squeeze the lime juice right into the cooker and then just throw the limes in.

3.  Add your pork to this mixture and then add your stock.  Seal your pressure cooker and crank the heat up to high.  Once the cooker has reached “high pressure”, you want to turn the heat down to medium and let it pressure cook away for 20 minutes.

4. Remove cooker from the burner and set aside to “depressurize” naturally – this will take about 20 minutes.  You will know when your pressure cooker is depressurized when it quits “hissing” and the aut0-lock unlocks.  At this point, you’ll be able to remove the lid.

5. Remove fork tender pork to a seperate vessel and strain the remaining liquid.  Use forks to mince the pork or wait until it cools and shred it with your hands.  Pour strained liquid directly over pork and stir.  That’s it!  We love this pork in corn tortillas with fine diced red onion, cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Sweet Potato/Butternut Squash/Ginger Soup

You will need:

2 tablespoons canola or olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger

2 butternut squash, peeled and diced

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium-size Yukon gold or russet potato, peeled and diced

6 cups vegetable stock

Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the ginger and stir together until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the squash, sweet potatoes, regular potato, and water or stock, and bring to a simmer. Add salt to taste, reduce the heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes, or until all of the ingredients are thoroughly tender.

2. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup (or you can put it through the fine blade of a food mill or use a regular blender, working in batches and placing a kitchen towel over the top to avoid splashing). Return to the pot and stir with a whisk to even out the texture. Heat through, adjust salt and add pepper to taste.

Yield: Serves 8

Advance preparation: You can make this a day ahead and refrigerate. Reheat gently. The soup freezes well. Once thawed, whisk well to smooth out the texture, and reheat.

 

Grilled Vegetable Lasagna With Puttanesca Sauce and Pesto Oil

You will need:

2 pounds ricotta

1 teaspoon salt

Pesto Oil, recipe follows

Puttanesca Sauce, recipe follows

1 1/4 pounds lasagna noodles

Grilled Vegetables, recipe follows

8 ounces mozzarella, coarsely grated

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl mix the ricotta cheese with salt and half a cup of Pesto Oil.

Lightly grease a large rectangular baking dish, then spoon 1/2 cup of Puttanesca Sauce onto the bottom of the dish. Cover with a layer of lasagna noodles. Top the lasagna with a layer of ricotta, then a layer of eggplant, zucchini, onion and red pepper, a layer of grated mozzarella, and a layer of puttanesca sauce. Repeat layering the lasagna, ricotta, vegetables, mozzarella and sauce in this manner until all ingredients have been used, ending with mozzarella on top.

Bake until the lasagna is bubbling and golden brown, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Allow to rest 10 minutes before serving, drizzled with some of the remaining pesto oil.

Puttanesca Sauce:

1/4 cup olive oil

1 cup finely chopped onion

6 cloves minced garlic

2 (28-ounce) cans Roma plum tomatoes, broken into pieces, with juice

1 cup tightly packed, pitted, chopped Kalamata olives

2 tablespoons tomato paste

2 tablespoons drained capers

2 tablespoons (about 8) minced anchovy fillets

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed basil

1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper flakes

Salt

In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium high heat. Add the onion and saute until soft and lightly caramelized, about 6 minutes. Add the garlic and cook an additional 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and the remaining ingredients and simmer until the sauce is thickened and slightly reduced, about 40 minutes. Adjust seasoning to taste, cover and set aside.

Pesto Oil:

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups loosely packed basil leaves

1 cup extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon salt

In the bowl of a food processor or blender place the garlic and basil and process on high while adding the olive oil in a steady stream. Continue to process until well blended, season with salt to taste and set aside until ready to assemble lasagna.

Grilled Vegetables: 4 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/4-inch slices 4 red or yellow bell peppers, roasted, seeded and peeled 2 medium eggplants (about 1 1/2 pounds), cut into 1/4-inch rounds 2 large yellow onions, cut into 1/4-inch rounds 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Light the grill or pre-heat the broiler.

In a large shallow bowl, toss the eggplant, zucchini, bell pepper and onion with the oil and salt. If using the broiler, arrange the vegetables in a single layer on 2 lightly greased or non-stick baking sheets. Grill or broil in batches, turning the vegetables once, until they are tender, lightly browned, and have released most of their moisture, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.

 

Great Asian Food In Atlanta

If you find Asheville’s Asian dining scene lacking, I can’t recommend a trek to Atlanta highly enough.  Just outside of downtown Atlanta lies Buford Highway, a stretch of road populated by a number of Asian eateries where the food is about as authentic as you can find in the southeastern United States.  One major complaint I have about Asian eateries throughout the country is their lack of appropriate wines to accompany their foods, but so be it.  Beer tends to suffice, but if you own an Asian restaurant and read this, please consider some of these wine suggestions.

Penang Lobak

We always start our dining tour at a great Malaysian restaurant called Penang, and we are always happy.  We started with the Penang Lobak  appetizer, which is a plate including deep fried minced pork wrapped in bean curd, a shrimp pancake and fried tofu with a sweet and savory dipping sauce.  It got our juices flowing with a combination of sweet, salty and bitter flavors and was a great lead-in to our main courses.

Char Kuey Teow
Curry Mee

I chose the Curry Mee, a soupy concoction of fresh noodles served in a curry/coconut milk/lemongrass broth with chicken, shrimp and tofu.  This dish reminds me ever so slightly of one of my favorite Singaporean dishes, Laksa.  It’s slightly spicy, but sweet with a limey/sour component to it.  A dry German or Alsatian Riesling would have really livened this dish up, but the Tiger beer I had with it was good enough.  My dining partner chose the Char Kuey Teow, a traditional Malaysian dish of stir fried flat rice noodles with fresh shrimp, squid, bean sprout, eggs, soy sauce and chili paste.  This really reminded us of our dining experiences in southeast Asia and for around $7, we were deeply satisfied.  The flavors were complex and fresh, with a variety of complimentary flavors going on that all worked nicely together.  A dry or semi-sweet Loire Valley Chenin Blanc would have really made this dish pop, with it’s subtle, but present heat, smokiness and sour flavors.  I was tempted to lick the bowl when all of the food had been consumed, but I held back.

Though this food is pretty clean and dominated by simple ingredients, we were stuffed, so we headed back to the hotel for a long nap.  We decided to skip dinner this night and instead consumed one of the best bottles of Champagne I’ve had in a long time.  From the Jenny and Francois portfolio, one of the hottest importers of naturally made, authentic wines from small French estates, we deeply enjoyed a bottle of Jacques Lassaigne’s “Le Cotet” , an organic Chardonnay based wine from old vines in Montgueux.  The terroir here is very similar to that of the vineyards further south in le Mesnil, as both regions share the same limestone-rich soils. This mineral-driven, rich Champagne made me think of oysters, but it also made me wonder why so many spend $100+ on that “special” bottle of bubbly, when they could spend a fraction of the price on this bottle and get equal or better quality. 
Jacques Lassaigne “Le Cotet”

We slept in the next morning, just long enough to get our appetites back, and we needed them as we were headed to Canton House , our favorite spot in the southeast for Dim Sum.  Dim Sum is the Asian equivalent to tapas, but it is typically consumed for breakfast and lunch.  I got hooked on this type of cuisine when I lived in Northern Virginia, and the wife and I would fast for a day before heading to one of the many terrific Dim Sum restaurants on Leesburg Pike.  Unfortunately, there’s nowhere to get this type of food in Asheville or Western North Carolina, so when we head to Atlanta, this is always something we look forward to.

BBQ Pork Bun
Shrimp and Chive Dumplings

As we approached the restaurant, there was a bit of a wait, and the place was packed with Asian diners which is always a good sign that the food is authentic.  Servers push around food carts loaded with all sorts of tasty small plates.  There are dumplings, barbecued pork buns, sugarcane shrimp skewers, chicken feet, tripe, vegetables, sweets and too many other things to name.  We started with a couple plates of pork and shrimp dumplings, and the rest is a bit foggy, as I was absolutely intoxicated in culinary bliss.  We ate, we took pictures, and we just soaked it all in, enjoying every last bite of food that was brought to us.  Take a look at these pictures, and make sure to make this a stop the next time you’re in Atlanta.  You will thank me.

Happy Dude!
Real Shumai…..aka Pork Dumplings

For the next couple of days, we did some sight-seeing, ate some decent Thai food as well as some good old American food, but nothing too special.  We did, however, enjoy another super bottle of bubbly, but this time it wasn’t Champagne.  It was sparkling Vouvray, but from Chenin Blanc master Francois Pinon.  Francois is considered one of the top producers of Vouvray, and his vineyards are situated about 5 miles northeast of the town of Vouvray.  His soil is varied, some clay and silica on a base of limestone and flint, and the area is rated among the top sites in the appellation. I was deeply impressed by this wine’s texture, intensity and mineral concentration.  We enjoyed the wine with some tasty take out sushi……..I don’t remember the name of the restaurant, but it was fine……..the wine was the real superstar.

Francois Pinon Vouvray Brut
We woke up the next morning feeling fresh and ready for our last meal in Atlanta before we headed back to Asheville.  After much thought and consideration, we decided on steamed fish back at our favorite restaurant Penang.  The meal that we had on this day is one that will not soon be forgotten, and I rate it as one of my Top 5 of the year.  What do you get when you take a whole red snapper and steam it and serve with a lemongrass/ginger broth?  Food bliss is the result, and that is exactly what we experienced.  I was so wanting a chilled glass of Gruner Veltliner or Sancerre or Albarino or anything white and wet, but no dice and we had to drive home afterwards anyway.  This was a dish of subtle, but pronounced flavors with the natural flavor of the fish unobstructed by any sort of heavy sauce or batter.  We enjoyed it with a side dish of stir fried watercress in some sort of fish sauce-based deliciousness.
Steamed Red Snapper
Steamed Red Snapper Destroyed!
All in all, this was a great trip full of great food that the wife and I had been yearning for.  We left Atlanta refreshed, renewed and revamped.  As I write about these experiences some two weeks later, I am comforted by the fact that we stocked up on supplies at the Asian market right next to Penang, and that the best Asian food in Asheville comes out of the Spurling kitchen when Mrs. Spurling decides to cook!  Cheers and happy eating to you all.

Christmas Dinner Wines

What will you be serving and eating for Christmas dinner this year?  Whereas Thanksgiving is all about turkey and root vegetables, many folks go a little more elaborate and luxurious for Christmas.  Why not, it only comes once a year, and it’s a great excuse to prepare a meal fit for royalty.  Standing rib roast, leg of lamb, goose, and even sushi never suck, and I’d like to be your guide and help you create the perfect wine and food pairing for whatever you decide to prepare.

The Traditional Turkey or Goose and Root Vegetables

Stick with fruit driven wines, as opposed to those with high levels of tannin or heavy oak treatment.  You want to be able to taste the subtle flavors of your bird and the earthy nuances of your root veggies, so don’t overwhelm them with heavy reds or whites.  Here are some safe bets:

2009 Domaine du Pas St. Martin Saumur Blanc – Dry Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley is delicious with a number of foods, but this one is something special.  It is rich and almost honeyed on the nose, but once it hits the palate, it’s completely dry with flavors of ripe apple, citrus, honey and mineral.  The cleansing acidity of this wine will help to cut through some of the rich and earthy flavors of your sides, and it’s fruit forward personality won’t overwhelm the flavor of your turkey.

2009 Melsheimer Riesling Trocken – Trocken is German for dry, and this is just glorious white wine.  Thorsten Melsheimer farms organically and makes his wines naturally, which is always nice, but the clean flavors of peach, nectarine, and lime make this a great all-purpose food wine.

2009 Domaine du Vissoux Beaujolais “Pierre Chermette” – Pierre Chermette produces a wine that I like to call “joy in a bottle”.  He farms organically and bottles without fining, filtering or sulfur addition, and his wine is all juicy red fruits, spice and earth.  It’s not complicated one bit…….it’s just delicious. 

2009 Patricia Green Pinot Noir Willamette Valley – Patty Green was the original winemaker at Tori Mor, and she’s been making wines under her own label for about 7 years.  Vintage 2009 in Oregon was very warm and sunny, and the wines produced are bigger and riper than usual.  This one is packed with notes of black cherry, cedar, spice box and rose petal.

Beef Dishes
If you’re doing a standing rib roast or any sort of elaborate beef preparation, you should seriously consider pairing it with an equally sophisticated wine.  Red wines dominate here, and in this case, bigger can be better.  You’re dealing with intense flavors and a good bit of fat, so richer wines with more tannic structure tend to do the trick. 

2007 Josh Cellars Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast – Everyone who’s bought this wine has loved it, and I can see why.  It’s from a single, biodynamically cultivated vineyard in the Red Hills of Lake County, north of Napa.  The wine is concentrated, but not overdone, with layers of black currant, spicy berries and gentle oak nuances.  What I really like about the wine is that it has some great acidity to cut through the fat of the meat.

2005 Chateau Villars Fronsac – This would be a great pick if you decided to go with filet mignon.  Fronsac is on Bordeaux’ Right Bank where Merlot dominates, and this wine is the product of a great vintage.  70% Merlot, 20% Cabernet Franc and 10% Cabernet Sauvignon from vines averaging 35 years of age, this ripe and plump Bordeaux exhibits plump black cherry, plum, tobacco and spice nuances.

2007 O’Shaughnessy Cabernet Sauvignon Howell Mountain – Ok, so this isn’t exactly affordable, but Christmas only comes once a year, and Robert Parker has called this the finest estate on Howell Mountain.  Their 2007 is the best wine they’ve ever made, and it soars with aromas and flavors of creme de cassis, blueberry, camphor and smoke.  It would cellar well, but it really doesn’t have any hard edges at the moment, so why not?

Lamb or Wild Game Dishes

Again, red wines tend to be the best matches for the gamy flavors inherent to these proteins.  I tend to prefer Grenache or Syrah based wines, with their spice, herb and berry fruit tendencies.  Of course, picking the right wine can depend on the types of herbs and or spices your dressing your meat with.  Here are some great all-purpose options.

2007 Domaine de Monpertuis Chateauneuf du Pape – Paul Jeune makes wonderfully concentrated, classic Chateauneufs with fruit from his vineyards which range in age from 60 to 110 years.  His 2007, an incredible vintage in the Southern Rhone, is based on 70% Grenache, 15% Mourvedre, 10% Syrah and 5% Cinsault.  The flavors are of ripe black cherry, blood orange, minerals and smoky herbs.

2008 Neyers Syrah “Old Lakeville Road” Sonoma Coast – Bruce Neyers is the national import manager for Kermit Lynch, but he manages to find time to make a range of great wines.  This one is made with rootstock Bruce sourced from Cornas, Hermitage and Cote Rotie in France’s Northern Rhone.  It tastes of ripe blackberry, blueberry, exotic spices and roasted meats.  Bring on the leg of lamb!

2009 Domaine Clape “Le Vin des Amis” Vin de Table – Auguste Clape is the top producer in the village of Cornas in France’s Northern Rhone Valley.  For this wine, his “wine for friends”, the Syrah fruit comes from vineyards right across the road from his Cornas vineyards, and in the super-ripe 2009 vintage, this is a lot of wine for the money.  It opens up with violet, spice and smoke notes on the nose that open up to reveal a lovely core of peppery berry fruit, rosemary, thyme and lavender. 

Sushi
Ok, so sushi isn’t so traditional, but for those of us who can’t make it home to see our familys, it’s a good, relatively low cost and easy alternative.  I know Green Tea is open on Christmas Eve and Christmas day, and sushi is colorful, healthy and delicious.  Clean white wines and sparklers, with their fresh and zippy flavors, are the best wines to accentuate and enhance the flavors of your raw fish.  Here are my top picks.
2009 Domaine Ricard Touraine Blanc “Le Petiot” – Loire Valley Sauvignon Blanc is just simply delicious, and this one is from one of the top estates in the region.  It’s sort of like a Baby Sancerre with aromas and flavors of perfumed citrus and tropical fruits and great palate cleansing acidity.
2009 Quinta da Romeira Arinto – Arinto is an indigenous Portuguese varietal, and it might just be my favorite new white wine.  It reminds me a bit of a dry Riesling with exotic tropical, floral and mineral notes.  I love me some Arinto!
2009 Weingut Martinshof Gruner Veltliner – Gruner Veltliner is Austria’s most important white varietal and this family estate farm their vineyards near Vienna organically.  The wine is the definition of freshness in a white wine with notes of freshly sliced green apple, pear, mineral and white pepper.
NV German Gilabert Cava Brut Rosat – This dry sparkling rosé offers a lot of bang for buck, and the flavors are of delicate red fruits, blood orange and a bit of toastiness.  It’s a blend of Garnacha and Trapat and it is dark pink/light red in color……very festive and food friendly.

So there you go.  These are just my reccomendations and what do I know?  Head to your local independent wine shop and get advice, as we love giving it.  Happy Holidays and happy eating and drinking!