Pinot Noir is the go-to choice for the holidays, the chef’s fallback. We’ve put together a nice little quartet of Pinot Noirs from all over for your holiday planning.
Believe it or not, Thanksgiving is one of, if not the, biggest wine holidays of the year, and we highlight some incredible white wines to go along with the whole spread.
By Kevin Keith
Beaujolais. More-or-less a region in its own right, it is technically part of the Burgundy region in France and is most known for the red grape varietal, Gamay Noir à Jus Noir, or more succinctly, Gamay. While it does grow grapes for white wines - predominantly Chardonnay but also Aligote, white wine makes up just about 1% of its total wine production. Here the Gamay grape is King (yes they do grow other grapes - the native red grape Pinot Liébault, and white grapes Pinot Blanc, Pinot Gris (known here as Pinot Beurot) and Melon de Bourgogne).
Beaujolais is stratified more-or-less by quality:
Beaujolais AOC. The most common appellation of Beaujolais wines and a designation that in any and all of the 96 villages but encompassing 60 of the villages within the Beaujolais region. A large percentage of this AOC is produced as Beaujolais Nouveau, but we won’t talk about that topic here.
Beaujolais Villages AOC. Two of the best-selling Beaujolais Villages wines are from Georges Duboeuf and Louis Jadot (two of the largest producers in all of France). This is the intermediate step for Beaujolais, this covers the 39 villages/communes that lie within the Northern portion of the region, known as the Haut Beaujolais.
Cru Beaujolais. This is the highest designation of appellation and actually represents the entire area around the Beaujolais Mountains. While seven of these are the actual village names, Brouilly and Côte de Brouilly refer to the vineyards surround Mont Brouilly and the last cru - Moulin-à-Vént - is named after a windmill.
The 10 crus are (in alphabetical order):
The lightest wines of the bunch are Brouilly, Chiroubles, and Régnié, while the heaviest would be from Morgon, Moulin-à-Vént, Juliénas, and Chénas. All these wines are ideal for the holidays, and some of the most food-friendly wines out there.
100% Gamay for all these wines.
The cellar is always a nice place to venture when the holidays descend, and we could think of no better place than Burgundy and the Rhone Valley. Pinot Noir and the Rhone reds are what we have in mind in particular, and we showcase some amazing selections for those looking to create a truly memorable Thanksgiving dinner.
Now that November is upon us, it’s high time we start thinking about what delicious libations to bring to bear for all of the forthcoming festivities. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, and all the merrymaking in between are full of opportunities for gastronomic indulgences, so you need beers that will hold their own against such hefty fare.
Finding one single beer to pair with everything offered at a typical holiday meal is fairly impossible, as the courses run the gamut of textures, flavors, and intensities. Bearing in mind that achieving perfect harmony across the board will be tough, the best course of action is to have plenty of flexible, food-friendly beers on hand that will pair with lots of different foods. For main courses, I find French biere de garde like Trois Monts Amber, saisons like Boulevard Tank 7, and abbey dubbels like Westmalle Dubbel can really shine. While all substantially different, all three beers (and the styles they represent) have deep and complex flavor profiles to create contrast and harmony with the foods you eat while being acidic and nimble enough not to overwhelm your palate.
When it comes to appetizers, light snacks, and the necessary palate cleansing between courses, I recommend having a lighter option or two on hand. Pilsners like Ayinger Bavarian Pils and hefeweizens like Sierra Nevada’s Kellerweis are crisp, refreshing, and easy to drink. They might just be the thing that keeps you from getting bogged down in the endless stream of heavy, rich holiday foods.
Dessert is the favorite course of many, including yours truly, and offers the perfect opportunity to break out your biggest, richest beers. A great barrel aged beer like Founders Backwoods Bastard or an imperial stout like Epic’s Big Bad Baptist will be perfect with lots of hearty cheeses and chocolate desserts. Dessert is also the time to break out your favorite holiday beer. For a more interesting pairing, try chocolate or cheesecake with a fruited lambic to create lots of points of contrast.
Well there you have it, your primer on holiday beers! Choosing beers, like so much of what we do during the holidays, can seem daunting. Remember to take a deep breath and keep in mind that holidays, food, and beer are all supposed to be fun and joyous opportunities to come together and relish our shared humanity! Plus, if picking out holiday beers feels overwhelming, the friendly beer nerds at Jungle Jim’s are happy to make recommendations. After all, beer is kinda our thing! Cheers!
Like the tide, our second annual Taste of the Sea has come and gone, but we’re still reeling from such a fun Saturday in Eastgate! Thanks to everyone who joined us for another night of adventurous eats!
Check out the full photo gallery on Events at the Jungle!
Thanks to everyone for joining us for our 2017 Fall Smash! We had a great time enjoying some of the best hard ciders, pumpkin beers, and food trucks around. Can't wait to do it again next year. Cheers!
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