As many of you know we celebrated a recent special occasion with a nice dinner at The Restaurant at Meadowood, the newly minted two star Michelin Guide rated restaurant in the heart of the Napa Valley. What you probably don’t know is that we thoroughly enjoyed the wine pairings we had with our five course meal from the “Exotics” menu.
Meadowood sommelier Rom Toulon does an amazing job of finding just the right wine to go with the scrumptious dish you’re about to enjoy. During our recent visit, we found him to be utterly approachable and excellent at providing a solid history and flavor profile for each and every wine we enjoyed.
So, as we thought about good folks to talk to about pairing wine with a Thanksgiving feast, Rom seemed like an ideal candidate. Now, we admit, we fully expected the sommelier of a high-end restaurant to suggest several bank account-busting wines, but were pleasantly surprised with what we found. Read on:
CB: What are your top three general tips for pairing wine with the traditional Thanksgiving meal?
Toulon: 1) Knowing exactly what will be served during the meal. The traditional thanksgiving meal originally consisted of roasted turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes, candied yams, cranberry relish. Some of the vegetables may vary from one family tradition to another. The stuffing could incorporate oysters, sausages, chestnuts, apples or whatever your preference is. The predominant thing is the use of aromatics (cinnamon, clove, nutmeg, pepper) and sweetness (yams, cranberry sauce, apples). That’s where the challenge begins.
2) Who are you going to enjoy the wines with? There is always a difference of taste within a family. Some individuals like bigger and bolder wines and are not keen to experience a wine that would show more fruitiness and or sweetness. It would then make sense to have a plan B, just in case.
3) Having a budget in mind. It is the best opportunity to visit your favorite wine shop and ask for assistance on what the best value wine of the moment is. This is also a chance to have a wine under $30 instead of going for bigger wines that ultimately will cost more.
CB: What’s the biggest mistake people make when trying to pair wine with a Thanksgiving feast?
Toulon: 1) Choosing a wine that will overpower and/or conflict with the meal. I would avoid:
- Buttery Chardonnays, high alcohol whites but go with German Rieslings, GewÃƒÂ¼rztraminers or others properly done Viogniers.
- Younger Cabs, Syrahs and Petite Sirahs but go with Gamays, Pinot Noirs or older Nebbiolos.
2) Breaking the bank and going for outrageously expensive bottles of wine.
CB: Complete this sentence for us. To me, pairing wine with a Thanksgiving meal is about…
Toulon: Elegance, fruitiness, low tannins and versatility.
CB: Which wine (or wines) do you expect to have on the table during your upcoming Thanksgiving celebration?
- Gewrztraminer, Londer Vineyards Anderson Valley 2006 (retail $21.99)
- Riesling SpÃƒÂ¤tlese, “Piersporter GoldtrÃƒÂ¶pfchen”, Weingut Grans-Fassian Mosel, Germany 2005 (retail $ 24.99)
- Pinot Noir, “Ruxton Vineyard”, Paul Mathew Russian River Valley 2005 (retail $28.99)
- Beaujolais Nouveau, G. Duboeuf Beaujolais, France 2007 (slightly chilled) (retail $11.99)
CB: Cheers, have a wonderful Thanksgiving Rom!