What to Drink: Thanksgiving Edition

There’s a few important things coming up on the calendar:

  1. T-Minus TEN days until Turkey Day[1]
  2. T-Minus ELEVEN days until Black Friday[2]
  3. T-Minus FOURTEEN days until Cyber Monday[3]
Because Bubbly is always a good idea! (c) Vinley Market
Because Bubbly is always a good idea! (c) Vinley Market

There’s a lot to do to prepare in the coming days, arguably the most important of which is deciding which wines you’ll be pairing with your Thanksgiving Feast[4]. I’ve teamed up with Vinley Market to discuss what wines go best with turkey, Grandma’s Stuffing and Aunt Mary’s Sweet Potato Casserole. I’m thinking that Zinfandel, Rosé and Riesling should all be making appearances. And if you’re not hosting, you should probably bring a bottle of bubbly![5]

Check out my Thanksgiving Wine Pairings and let me know what you’ll be drinking this Turkey Day.

And while you’re at it, get 10% off your wine order at Vinley Market with coupon code WINEESQUIRE10.

Until the next glass, Cheers!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] That means its T-MINUS TEN days and a few hours until 24/7 Christmas Music! YAY
[2] Also, another day off work. #score
[3] Is your Amazon Wish List ready? Mine is. #alwaysready
[4] Or Friendsgiving Feast, as the case may be.
[5] Obviously.

Place Setting Goals (c) Vinly Market
Place Setting Goals (c) Vinley Market

Open That Bottle Night – Chapoutier For The Win

File Feb 28, 8 55 07 AMIf you haven’t heard about Open That Bottle Night, you’re probably living under a rock. A brilliant pair of wine aficionados[1] invented the holiday in 1999, and every year, on the last Saturday in February, the world pops open one of “Those Bottles.” You know the ones; you’ve been saving it for something special, you just don’t know what. The annual event is an excuse to take a time out, be a bit decadent, and drink some amazing wine. What could be better?[2]

As I perused the wine cellar[3] in the basement, I realized that I need more good wine[4]. I was deciding between two of my Last Bottle Marathon selections, a 2012 Chateau Montelena[5] Cabernet and the 2007 Chapoutier Sizeranne Hermitage. I went French, because, good juju for the Millesima Blog Awards can’t hurt![6] It was not a bad decision.


To:                  Alleged Blog Readers
From:              WineEsquire
Date:               February 27, 2016
Wine:              2007 Chapoutier Monier de la Sizeranne – Hermitage


File Feb 28, 9 02 05 AMEver since I got my beautiful decanter, I tend to err on the side of decanting, especially if I know it’s a big wine or there’s a bit of age to it. The process of decanting is almost cathartic, and the Rabbit shower aerator makes the whole thing very fun.

We didn’t leave it in the decanter for long[7], but poured right into our glasses and started sipping. Husband quickly exclaimed, “Wow!” The nose at first had a bit of a Bordeaux flowery vibe. After the first sip he cried, “This is what wine should taste like!” My own reaction was a bit more subdued, I wasn’t getting quite as much as Husband, but it was certainly a smooth, delectable experience.

File Feb 28, 8 59 41 AMWhat was really fascinating was how the wine changed over an hour’s time span. My initial nose reaction was barn; musty dirt, a bit of earthiness. At first the wine appeared to me to be light with hints of fruit; first raspberry, then pronounced cherry, like the old Luden’s cough drops in the white waxy paper. On the finish I got a bit of bread, maybe almost some yeast. The wine wasn’t dry per se, but it made my mouth feel tight on the finish, perhaps just the slightest hint of tannins.

An hour later and the wine really changed. I mean, really changed. It went from the lighter end of the spectrum to a heavier, deeper juice. More body, more complex, much drier. Still delicious, but astoundingly different. The fruit notes turned into a deep, smoky burnt wood. Isn’t it crazy how wine can do that?

Instead of a meal, we paired That Bottle with a variety of stanky cheeses from the bits and bobs bin at Whole Paycheck Foods. A hunk of French cow, a 9 month aged Gouda, and a slab of perfectly salty Parmesan[8]. What a way to spend our first OTBN as we pre-gamed for a dinner party down the street.

Wine Dossier
Maison M. Chapoutier is an old winemaking estate in Tain-l’Hermitage, a small commune in the Rhone region of France. Michel Chapoutier, a seventh generation winemaker, is continuing what his ancestor Polydor Chapoutier started in 1879 when he bought the family’s first vines in the area.

File Feb 28, 8 57 16 AMBecause this is a French bottle, the label needs some deciphering. Chapoutier labels are rather unique in that, since 1996, the important details[9] are not only written, but printed in Braille as well. The idea started when current vintner Michel realized his blind friend, Gilbert Montagnin, could not read wine labels. Coincidentally, Maurice Monier de la Sizeranne, original owner of the plot of the Hermitage where this wine hails from, blinded at age nine himself, invented the first version of abbreviated Braille.

This bottle doesn’t really give you any information about what kind of wine it is[10]. Sizeranne and Hermitage both refer to the location the grapes were grown, Sizeranne being the specific vineyard plot within the Hermitage commune. Some fine print on the bottom simply says “Vin Rouge, Red Wine.” The Chapoutier website indicates the wine is made from Syrah grapes aged in oak casks for between 12 and 14 months. Other websites claim it’s a blend of Syrah and Grenache. Whatever it is, it tastes good.

During the Marathon I picked this baby up for $69; right now it’s retailing online for between $80 and $120. If you’re up for a pricy adventure, give it a whirl; it certainly won’t disappoint!

Lawyer Footnotes
File Feb 28, 9 05 14 AM[1] Who just happen to be married to each other and are the cutest ever.
[2] To be fair, I think we celebrate this holiday on a regular basis, just not always with the pricier bottles.
[3] I use the term “wine cellar” very loosely, as it’s really just a few wine racks in our basement. We’re trying to improve the humidity with a dehumidifier and some shower curtains. Highly specialized. Very official.
[4] I totally have Novinophobia, defined by the Urban Dictionary as “the fear of running out wine.” Despite my best attempts, I was unable to locate any scientific data that supports that this affliction is real.
[5] One of my cult favorites.
[6] If you voted in the Millesima Blog Awards, thank you so so much!
[7] #PatienceIsAVirtueWeDontHave
[8] Did I mention how heavenly the Parmesan is? It’s amazing.
[9] Like the producer, the vintage, the vineyard, the region and the color of the wine.
[10] I feel like this is often an issue with French bottles.

Open That Bottle Night #OTBN

File Feb 24, 11 40 38 AMBeing immersed in the wonderful world of wine is a great place to be. One of the best parts is learning about all the international wine holidays I never knew existed. You know, Wine Wednesday, National Drink Wine Day, National Wine Day, Rosé Day, etc.[1] I’m a big believer in celebrations, but I’m usually late to the party when it comes to these holidays, so that’s why I check what’s trending on Twitter.[2] Today I saw that #OTBN had been going for a few hours. I often always have to google what everyone is talking about, and it turns out that OTBN stands for Open That Bottle Night, a yearly event that occurs on the last Saturday in February.

The purpose is to open “That Bottle” you’ve been holding on to for one reason or another and celebrate with friends, just because. What better way to take a time out from the daily grind, sit back and take a sip. Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher, a husband and wife wine loving duo, invented the holiday in 1999[3] and it’s been going strong ever since[4].

File Feb 24, 11 40 25 AMTonight’s task, while celebrating #WineWednesday of course, is to pick out what bottle I’ll be opening in celebration of this fabulous holiday. I’m sure I have a few to choose from lying around somewhere, and what a great excuse!

What will you be opening? Tag @WineEsquire on Instagram and Twitter to let me know!

Shameless Plug
If you haven’t voted yet, head over to Facebook and vote for Wine Esquire in the Milessima Wine Blog Awards. Winning means I’d get to head across the pond for an epic wine adventure in Bordeaux. Read more here. Or just go vote. Note that voting ends THIS FRIDAY, February 26, so get goin’! Cheers!

File Feb 24, 11 40 08 AMLawyer Footnotes
[1] As if anyone really needs an excuse…but whatever, it’s fun.
[2] Like The Donald’s latest quip, “I love the poorly educated.” #futureprez
[3] New item on the bucket list: Invent a Holiday.
[4] Alas, I’ve been missing out all these years since this is the first I’ve heard of it. #NoTimeLikeThePresent

Thanksgiving Recap

File Nov 27, 6 46 33 PMThanksgiving 2015 has come and gone. I actually behaved very well this year. There were no rolls on my plate[1], I didn’t go back for seconds[2], there were no crying fits about wanting to stay and finish watching Mandy Moore movies on TV[3], and I didn’t end up wanting to die because of how full my stomach was. #success We even took a walk around the block after dinner.[4]

File Nov 27, 7 05 48 PMThe meal was truly divine, but the wine selections were also excellent, if I do say so myself. We started with some Berberana Gran Tradicion Brut Cava, a sparkling wine from Spain. It’s always nice to start off with a wee bit ‘o bubbly, don’t you think? It was light crisp and airy, fairly dry with good bubbles. A great value from Total Wine.

Once the food was served we transitioned to still wine. File Nov 27, 6 45 49 PMThe white was the 2008 Domaine des Heritiers du Comte Lafon Macon Milly-Lamartine, which was a lovely French Chardonnay.[5] Intensely buttery with a light citrus finish. Thick and smooth, a real white treat. One of my LastBottle Marathon picks[6], definitely wish I had more of that one.

Our red selection was the 2013 MacMurry Pinot Noir from the Russian River Valley[7]. Another complex pinot that still managed to be light and delicate. A bit of fruit and spice on the nose, it paired well with our luscious turkey feast and even complemented the pumpkin pie I’d been craving all week.[8]

File Nov 27, 6 57 46 PMOn a side note, Sissies, Mom and I capped off the evening with a bout of selfie stick mania. I’d never used one before but I’ve been threatening Husband that if he doesn’t start taking photos with me I’m going to buy one and start using it. In public. Experiencing the fun first-hand last night has solidified my decision to make this purchase.

WineEsquire strikes again! Onto the next feast!

Lawyer Footnotes
[1] Thanks for motivating me during #winechat this week @JustTheBottle and @Viginia_Made! Not sure I’m as motivated as you two, but I thought I’d try to go low carb whenever I can…#babysteps
[2] I took a lot during round one though.
[3] That may have happened last year. #sorrynotsorry #WalkToRemember
[4] Mostly because we were all starting to fall asleep because of the food coma #cardio
[5] Full disclosure, I thought this was a red when I selected it. The label was all in French and the bottle was very dark. When we got to the Parents House, Husband asked if he should chill it and I wondered why…#amateur
[6] If you haven’t signed up yet, you’re a fool. http://bit.ly/LastBtl
[7] I didn’t know where the Russian River Valley was so I used The Google. Turns out it’s in Sonoma County, California. I think I should take one of those Master Of Wine courses so I can learn all this stuff. #taxwriteoff
[8] I may have had a second serving of pumpkin pie. With fresh whipped cream. #caloriefree