I don't normally write about wine because it gets me in trouble; I am neither diplomatic nor politically correct on that subject. But that is because I am not an expert/writer in wines, instead I am an expert/writer in wine tourism. It's true that I know a thing or two about wine, it's impossible to be a tour guide in Napa & Sonoma and not learn about our most popular product. Just going on tours through the wineries with my clients would be enough to become an expert in most people's eyes. Also, living here and being part of the hospitality industry there are more than enough opportunities to taste vast arrays of wine, side by side with people who really do know something about wine. Even if I just parroted what I heard I would sound pretty savvy.
With all of that out there, I still have my opinions about that particular food of the Gods. Admittedly they are strong opinions, sometimes iconoclastic, and Lahni would probably prefer that I keep them to myself. Little chance of that!
When it comes to what wine should go with turkey I have some strong ideas because I think that turkeys were put on this planet, big, noisy and in a circle, to make them easy to catch. Sonoma is awash in wild turkeys, the escapees descendents from when turkey sheds dotted the valleys outside of town. White meat turkey is 90% lean, which makes it unpalatable to some, but a huge help to people who do the Paleo Diet, or also called Cave Man Diet, because it depends on lean meats to boost the metabolism and white meat is leaner than most game meats.
Which is why I think that Malbec goes so well with Thanksgiving dinner, especially if you find one with a decently low alcohol level. I know from experience that Napkins (the affectionate name for people from Napa) would happily pair Cabernet Sauvignon with everything. Cab is King here and it makes them a little biased. They might budge as far as a softer Cabernet Franc or even a fruity Merlot, which are the grapes most often blended with Malbec in Cahors.
Napa tends to feel about Malbec the way that people from Bordeaux feel about the Malbec from Cahors, shall we say, a tad snooty. In California when we hear Malbec we think Argentina, and it is hard to imagine how one can Tango and still make wine, apparently they can. The Bordelaise treat land locked Cahors rather like a distant and needy country cousin. Malbec's milder tannins and acids doesn't provide the long aging qualities that make Cabernet Sauvignon so suitable for collecting. At the same time that makes Malbec easier on the digestion.
The black wine of Cahors, a blend of Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Merlot, was so prized for its healthful benefits that it was the official wine of the Russian Empire and the only wine which the Tsar was permitted to drink by his physicians.In comparison Claret, the Bordeaux blend by its British nom du plume, was a favorite of the English gentlemen, a generally warlike and batty group.
Now, I don't want to diminish the British love and considerable knowledge of spirits. I generally find my English clients among the most knowledgeable when it comes to European wines; due to that long tradition of controlling the sea going trade routes so they shipped everybody else's wines. But, their northerly and snowy position makes Russians experts out of necessity. For instance, the clear alcohols like vodka produce fewer hangovers than the darker whiskeys. Since the Russians use vodka as a type of personal anti-freeze that is a nice feature.
Because Turkey doesn't contain a large amount of fat it doesn't need the high alcohol levels to dissolve those fats for digestion. Because it is a fruity wine it helps speed the tryptophan from the belly to the brain to provide that relaxing glow. You see, it is not the amount of tryptophan in turkey that is so relaxing, it is the sugar in the sides, sweet potatoes laced with brown sugar and cranberry sauce, those strap rockets onto that important amino acid. That's why a turkey sandwich in the middle of the day doesn'tguarantee a nap, but if you have it will a glass of fruit juice you may find your eyelids drooping.
I'm not saying that Malbec is the best Turkey wine, just our personal favorite, and the one we prefer comes from the Imagery winery in the Sonoma Valley. Hint, the wine always tastes better when you know, and like the winemaker. With all that it may be that the best spirit to have with turkey is Tequila. Why? Because turkeys are native to both the forests of North America and most notably, Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. Personally we'll stick with our Malbec.
Chateau St. Jean Sonoma
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