Good wine should spark your taste buds and good conversation.
By Julie Hoogland
When you sit down to Thanksgiving dinner, why not pour the best wine the Midwest has to offer? And maybe even brag to your guests about the reasons you chose your home state wine.
The Midwest has emerged in the national scene as a robust wine region, with scores of wineries in each state, said Jon Bogema, lead buyer for wine and spirits for all Meijer stores.
Here’s a handy guide for great Thanksgiving Day wines from your home Midwest state, as picked by the wine experts at Meijer.
When your guests arrive, be festive and uncork some Fizz from MAWBY Winery’s M. Lawrence brand out of Suttons Bay (around $13). It’s a sparkling wine to serve during pre-dinner social time. “Michigan is doing some really amazing sparkling wine, and Fizz is a fun one, not totally dry, and a great casual starter,” said David Stanley, wine steward at Meijer’s Cascade store. If you are willing to splurge, serve MAWBY’s high-end Blanc de Blancs ($23 range), a fine dry sparkling wine made with all Chardonnay grapes from the Leelanau peninsula.
For white wine with turkey dinner, opt for one of these three great choices from Traverse City-area wineries. One of Michigan’s most famous and best dry whites is Bowers Harbor Vineyards Pinot Grigio ($14 range), Stanley said. You can talk up its apple-and-pear round finish flavor profile. For Rieslings, try either Black Star Farms Arcturos (around $11), a beautiful semi-dry Riesling, or from Chateau Grand Traverse, go with their true Dry Riesling ($13 range). Finally, treat your guests who are partial to sweet wine to this quality choice: Classic Demi-Sec (about $8) from Tabor Hill in Southwest Michigan.
For a red wine with turkey dinner, Michigan’s best options are usually blends, which give the winery the ability to adjust their grapes to seasonal growing conditions. Good Harbor Vineyards’ Harbor Red, (about $10) is a dry red with a light elegant style and a nice fruity aroma, perfect with turkey, Stanley said.
Another way to show off Michigan: Serve craft hard ciders, which have blossomed with quality offerings. With salads and starters, offer Starcut Ciders Immortal Jelly (about $10), which has a delicious mix of strawberry, blueberry and raspberry. Starcut is a cider spinoff of Shorts Brewery in Northern Michigan. With desserts, offer Sweater Weather from Farmhaus Cider in Hudsonville ($11 range), which is spiced with a hint of chi. These ciders “drink more like sparkling wines than apple juice,” Stanley said. So be bold and fancy, and serve your Michigan cider in a white wine glass.
Try Dry Reisling from Wollersheim Winery ($10). “This has a light dry semi-sweet finish” and pairs nicely with a turkey dinner, said wine expert Jim Galinsky of the Meijer store in Waukesha. Wollersheim, located in Prairie du Sac, is known for hand-crafted wines, carries on old-fashioned German wine-making traditions, and even ages some of its varietals in natural caves in western Wisconsin.
If you are serving ham instead of turkey, serve a nice Wisconsin cranberry wine, Galinsky suggests. “The tartness and citrus will blend well with pineapple-glazed ham,” he said. His top pick is Wisconsin Cranberry Wine (about $9) from Sturgeon Bay Vineyards in Highland. It’s a sweet fruit table wine, made from fresh Wisconsin cranberries.
Illinois was one of the largest wine producers in the U.S before prohibition, and the industry has come roaring back in recent years. Illinois wine makers work with French-American hybrid grapes. One great pick for Thanksgiving is Velvet Red from Lynfred Winery in Roselle.
The Oliver Winery Riesling ($10), with notes of citrus and peach aromas, followed by flavors of apple and pear, will pair well with anything on the holiday table. The wine is made at a Bloomington winery with fruit sourced from the West Coast, said wine steward Jane Gerlach in the Meijer Carmel store. Oliver Winery takes advantage of long-standing grower relationships to bring together the flavors of Yakima Valley in Washington, Columbia River Gorge in Oregon, and the Monterey area of California.
For a red, go with the Oliver Winery Shiraz, ($10), a delightful dry wine made from fruit in Lodi and Paso Robles, California. You can talk up the bright brambleberry aromas followed by flavors of blueberry and spice. It pairs with a wide variety of dishes, Gerlach said.
Also great with turkey is the Oliver Winery Gewurztraminer ($10), with notes of lychee fruit and spice followed by a ripe and fresh finish, made in Indiana with West Coast fruit.
The Catawba grape is special in Ohio because of the way it thrives along the shores of Lake Erie. To best show it off, the Mon Ami Winery in Port Clinton has two good choices, Catawba White and Pink Catawba ($9.50 each), said wine steward Jason Rosensteel of the Meijer in Westerville. “White Catawba works with turkey and all the heavy flavors of Thanksgiving dinner. It’s something a little lighter and sweeter. It’s jammy.”
For a red wine, go with Rodeo Red ($10) from the Winery at Versailles in western Ohio. “It’s a sweet wine for after dinner,” Rosensteel said. “Ohio wines are approachable for the novice wine drinker: A little sweeter and fruitier. If you’re looking to be introduced to white and red wine, Ohio is a good starting place.”
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