Value vino – great wines for under $15
The mags and wags have already decreed it: Pinot noir is the turkey wine of choice. We won’t rock the boat. What we will do instead is look at a selection of wines to elevate and enhance leftovers — the turkey hanging out in the refrigerator, the sweet potatoes stripped of marshmallows, the cranberry sauce and relish ... even pumpkin pie, should any remain. In our prequel tasting (if Star Wars can do it, so can we) to a sequel (the Friday after Thanksgiving) we assembled alleged leftovers and eight wines.
We began with baked sweet potatoes blended with coconut milk, curry powder, and a touch of nutmeg, and served as “shooters” with sprigs of rosemary. The Dr. Pauly Bergweiler Noble House 2004 Riesling was perfect here, its minerality and acidity playing against the lushness of the shooter, and floral, peachy notes working with it. Bonny Doon’s 2004 Pacific Rim Dry Riesling, a blend of American and German fruit, was a better sparring partner with the theoretically leftover cranberry relish spiked with fresh ginger, poblanos, and jalapeños. Its slight residual sugar is balanced by crisp acidity and notes of green melon and green apple, and the combo is a knockout with anything spicy.
The same cranberry relish was spread onto slabs of turkey, along with a choice of rustic mustards, and slapped between slices of sourdough bread for a simple but satisfying sandwich that was a natural with the 2002 Renwood Old Vines Zinfandel. Big and bursting with blackberry, the zin was also fine if cranberry sauce was subbed for the relish. Leftover dressing (OK, it was fresh from Central Market) was packed into individual ramekins, topped with cranberry sauce, drizzled with cornbread batter, and popped into the oven. I recommend it alone or with the intensely raspberry-scented Clos de Gilroy 2004 California Grenache. “I would wear this,” enthused one wine taster. More conventionally, the grenache was perfect with both the sauce and the earthy mushrooms of the dressing, and equally effective with the sandwich.
Reheated butternut squash stuffed with wild rice and fruits proved to be a swing dish: It was great with the Renwood zin, but utterly stunning with Blandy’s Alvada 5 Year Old Rich Madeira, rich indeed with vanilla and hazelnut flavors that sang with the squash and its nutty-fruity stuffing. The Madeira might have been out of order at this point in a conventional dinner, but with free-form leftovers, anything goes. With the pumpkin pie (I actually made this one), it was both appropriate and orgasmic.
Graham’s “Six Grapes” Reserve Porto, darkly intense yet vibrantly fresh, was good with the pie, too, but perhaps even better as an aid to reflection and conversation after the fact. The Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Blanc de Blanc also supported the moderately sweet pie, but this flexible bubbly, toasty and redolent of pear and baked apple, was the one wine that worked anywhere in the motley assortment of foods — from spicy relish to nutty squash. When in doubt, pop a cork. •