Sunday, December 23, 2007

A Time of Bounty, Palmer Vineyards Cabernet Franc

(C)2007 SmellsLikeGrapeChristmas dinners can be tough for a wine to keep up with. You have a wide variety of aromatic foods with cinnamon, allspice, sage, rosemary and thyme. The traditional sweet potatoes baked with orange slices, cinnamon and clove add another layer complexity. This may all be served with turkey, ham, roast beef or all of the above. Let’s face it, this bountiful time calls for wine that is versatile and complementary.

As much as we all love wine, this meal is not about the wine. It’s about sharing with family and friends. The wine should be good but we all have a dirty little secret. We are not about to open that very special bottle knowing that Aunt Millie and Uncle Harry have been know to put ice in their box wine at home.

Cranberry sauce can befuddle a holiday wine pairing. (C)2007 SmellsLikeGrapeLooking across the table you see the cranberry sauce. I make mine with whole cinnamon, allspice, clove and anise. I put thinly slice oranges in the bottom of a glass bowl. (Okay, people rave about my cranberry sauce. My second holiday dirty little is quick, simple and looks like I fussed for hours. Take one cup of water, one cup of sugar and bring to a boil. When I’m feeling wild and crazy, I’ll add the juice of one orange. Add one bag of cranberries. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 or 20 minutes with the spices mentioned above. Put in a glass bowl with thinly cut orange slices for looks. Set aside to cool.)

Now you have a meal that is a real challenge to pair wine with, sweet, sour, savory and pungent. Do I hear someone knocking at the door? It's Aunt Millie and Uncle Harry with a cheese platter, Brie, Blue, Jarlsberg and Havarti. Oh my! Let’s not freak out.

Here’s what I’d do. I’d pull out a Cabernet Franc, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Merlot. All these wines are inexpensive, easy going and pair well with just about anything on the table. But the bottle I’d keep close to me would be the Cabernet Franc. We found a nice New York State bottle that just shined through a meal like this. There is just enough hint of spiciness, red current, cherry, earthiness and just the right acidity to go with everything on the table.

(C)2007 SmellsLikeGrapeMerry Christmas, and may your wine pairings be flawless in the coming New Year.

Cabernet Franc
Proprietor’s Reserve
Palmer Vineyards
Long Island, New York
Vintage: 2003
Alcohol: 12.5%
Price: $14.42

Intensity: Meduim
Aromas: Cherry, earth, rose, spice
Flavors: Cherry, red current, cranberry, pomegranate,
Body: Medium
Acidity: Moderate
Sweetness: Moderately dry
Finish: Medium

Summary: This wine will compliment a festive meal without dominating it. The balance of earthiness and fruitiness played off of the turkey, sweet potatoes and cranberry. It went well will with both white and dark meat.