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November 21, 2010

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Choices for the banquet

WONDERING what wine to serve with turkey? Wine experts agree that a good Pinot Noir is always a safe bet but there are many other choices that go well with a Thanksgiving feast.

Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan, a Master of Wine, suggests a rich California Chardonnay would be perfect to accompany butternut squash for the traditional American meal but if chestnut stuffing is on the menu she suggests a Norton.

"I would go with a Norton from Linden Vineyards in Virginia. This was a wine served at the White House and it is their policy to serve wines that are produced in America," said Simonetti-Bryan whose "Everyday Guide to Wine" was released recently on DVD.

John Hart, chairman of the Chicago wine auction house Hart Davis Hart, sees the Thanksgiving holiday on Thursday as the perfect opportunity to share special bottles with family and friends.

He plans to start with Krug Grande Cuvee Champagne, which averages about US$150 a bottle, followed by an equally expensive red Burgundy, a 1995 Mazis-Chambertin from Domaine Bernard Dugat-Py.

"We always end with a Sauterne. This year, a half-bottle of 1981 Chateau Climens, usually with some homemade pie," he said.

Chris Baggetta, head sommelier at New York's Michelin-starred Eleven Madison Park, said she prefers dry, crisp whites. She likes Austrian Rieslings or Gruner Veltliners for a hint of sweetness and dry but fruity red wines like Cru Beaujolais and Cotes du Rhone.

For American wines, she would turn first to Oregon for the high-quality Rieslings and their ability to age. At the top of her list is Dry Riesling from Amity Vineyards in Yamhill County.

"With turkey, I would stay in Oregon. Cristom Louise Vineyard Pinot Noir has power and perfume, with lots of spice, almost like cinnamon red hot candies - perfect with all the trimmings," she said. "Chehalem's Reserve Pinot Noir is elegant and earthy, focusing on more mushroom and savory notes."

At the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel, sommelier David Jones can't resist California's offerings.

"Turkey dinner is notoriously difficult for pairing. We like Keller Estate Pinot Noir ... the fruit coming from the Sonoma Coast brings cherry to the table," he explained.

Wine consultant Maureen Downey opts for some Spanish wines and California Pinot Noirs from MacMurray and Dutton Goldfield.

"I love the Pinots for quaffing and light hors d'oeuvre noshing and I love the rich, full flavors of many Spanish wines for dinner. Spain has all the spice and richness to match holiday fare."

For dessert, make sure the wine is sweeter than the dessert.


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