- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 19, 2008

WillaKenzie Estate, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley, Oregon, 2007, $18

With Thanksgiving about a week away, it’s time to think about wines to pour when you carve the bird.

Because both reds and whites can complement a traditional Thanksgiving dinner, I’ll offer a white suggestion today and a red next week. With either color, be sure to choose a wine with lots of flavor. This meal typically includes a wide range of foods, and an overly delicate or subtle wine just won’t be able to hold its own.

If only because the holiday constitutes a national feast, I like to serve American wines at Thanksgiving. With whites, I’ve often chosen a full-bodied chardonnay (so long as it’s not excessively oaky) but this year I’m going with a pinot gris from Oregon.

That state is a clear leader with this particular grape. Oregon pinot gris, unlike Italian pinot grigio, tends to taste rich and ripe, with a hint of honeyed sweetness enhancing its bright autumn fruit flavors. That profile gives it the versatility to shine at Thanksgiving.

WillaKenzie’s juicy 2007 pinot gris tastes primarily of apples and pears. Extremely inviting, it should perform admirably with dark meat and white as well as with the stuffing, gravy, sweet potatoes, creamed onions and all the other trimmings. While full-flavored, this wine never seems heavy or ponderous but instead feels refreshing when you sip it.

Given the groaning sideboard at many houses next week, that’s another reason to give this pinot gris a try.

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