Let's talk turkey shall we? Of course I'm sharing my pairing thoughts on the baked, broiled, barbecued or roasted big bird, and all the trimmings, that are the culinary focus of Thanksgiving. And so it is that, once again, the Marie Callender's frozen Turkey Breast and Stuffing dinner was popped in the oven (40 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees) and then introduced to a variety of potential wine mates.
As touted in prior columns, the J. Lohr Valdeguie is not only the most food versatile red in my experience, but also a turkey dinner's best friend. Both the exiting 2010 vintage and the just-arrived 2011 (my 15th, by the way) were put to the test and the score is now 19 for 19. Both bottlings were equally fond of the mashed potatoes and gravy, the stuffing and the green beans, as well as the moist turkey breast.
You may recall that I label Riesling the most food-friendly varietal on the market along with Moscato and a variety of creative white blends, the Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc Viognier maintaining star status over 13 vintages. Dry Rosé is No. 2, while Pinot Gris ranks third. Both Gris and Grigio show a particular affection for poultry in just about every manifestation (34 wines have so far earned an 87percent success rate over 85 pairings). And so it was that my first new selection was the hybrid Lodi Pinot Grigio 2011 ($9.95, 12.8 percent alcohol, screw cap) which also contains 17percent Vermentino.
Now I get much satisfaction out of reinforcing my established positive pairing preferences, but I'm even more enamored of pursuing something new. Readers may recall the accolades on my first-ever Musque Chardonnay, the 2011 Giguiere Dunnigan Hills Clone 809 ($14.95, 13.4percent alcohol, 1.3percent residual sugar) when it scored with eggs Benedict, of all things. Well, it has since achieved pleasing success with sweet-and-sour chicken with pineapple, sautéed prawns, broccoli and cheddar soup and a hamburger, suggesting a food-friendly versatility that demanded inclusion in my turkey exploration. And it turned out to be the star of the evening with every component of the meal. As for the wine, the back label tells it all. "Musque is the French term meaning both perfumed and muscat-like. Many grape varieties (note: I had experienced only Sauvignon Blanc to date), including the Clone 809 of Chardonnay, have a musque mutation that produces a highly aromatic wine. This Chardonnay has beautiful aromas of honeysuckle and orange blossom with flavors of apricot and honey." By the way, Dorothy McNett's Cooking Club will be featuring paella Nov. 7-8 and I just might coax her into going musque.