Make That Turkey Tastier

by Christina Kelly & r & Every year, wine writers throughout the country muse over what wine to serve for the Thanksgiving meal. Little ink, however, is spilled over all the leftovers, trying to match wine with the creative ways cooks turn turkey into tasteful leftover delights.

Truth be known, there isn't a perfect wine to create the synergy of wine/food pairing with turkey, traditional cranberry sauce, giblet gravy, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and a host of green vegetables. What if you stuff your dressing with oysters, or baste your turkey in an orange or bourbon sauce?

By now, most people realize that the joy and blessing of Thanksgiving is the plethora of wines that will work with some of the foods. Open up red and white wines and allow your guests to pick and choose what they want to sip with their meal.

If your holiday meal is like mine, you'll be eating turkey sandwiches and making turkey soup, turkey enchiladas and trying to figure out what to do with the leftover dinner rolls and vegetables. The same goes for leftover wines.

With a little preparation, you can preserve the wines opened on Thanksgiving and drink them with leftovers well into the next week.

Preserving Wine & r & If you think you'll be consuming your white and red wines within a few days, putting the cork back into the bottle and keeping the wines in the refrigerator usually works well. It will not harm a red wine, although take the red wine out an hour or so before you drink it with your food.

You can purchase several items that will help preserve your wines longer at local wine shops and some grocery stores. This includes a plastic pump that pulls the air out of the wine before you re-cork. Or, you can purchase a bottle of inert gas at places like Huckleberry's or Vino's -- a terrific gadget that will preserve the wine.

Serving Leftovers & r & As a rule, you want to pick a wine that will blend well with white and dark meat, and that is tougher than it seems because you need to support the flavors of the dark meat and not overwhelm the breast meat. You need a wine that should have sufficient body (alcoholic strength) to stand up to leftover foods from the holiday, yet not be so big that they conquer and coat every dish. Wines with high alcohol (14 percent or higher) tend to taste unbalanced with your meal.

Holiday wines should have adequate fruit, but not be so overly fruity or sweet that they will turn foods such as green vegetables into bitter, weedy grass. It should also have mild tannins and sufficient acidity to cut through the fatty foods on the table.

Whether you favor red or white wine, the best wines to pair with leftover holiday fare are the lighter, livelier and less complex ones. Anything heavy such as a big Cabernet Sauvignon will overwhelm your food and have you snoring on your chest before the football games. Keep in mind not to serve your white wines too cold and your red wines too warm. I generally pull white wines out of the refrigerator about a half-hour before serving.

Keep in mind that the most versatile wine to serve with holiday food is sparking wine. Mountain Dome makes some of the best sparkling wines in the state and can be purchased in most major grocery stores and wine shops. The vintage sparkling wines, such as Mountain Dome's 1998 Brut, are slightly more expensive but well worth paying less than $30. I would also recommend Chateau Ste. Michelle's 1999 Luxe sparkling wine.

My leftover favorites include turkey sandwiches on a dinner roll with dressing and cranberry sauce. This works well with a sparkling wine, but I like it with a red zinfandel -- the spices and peppery quality add to the turkey. Washington produces small amounts of zinfandel, but the ones from Maryhill and Bernard Griffin are noteworthy -- with and without food. Walla Walla has lovey Syrah, with its spice, black pepper and smokiness that supported turkey and dressing, but doesn't taste quite right with anything that contains sugar or heavy citrus.

For white wines, select a buttery Chardonnay if eating turkey with leftover mash potatoes and gravy -- you can purchase a terrific 2003 Kendall-Jackson Grand Reserve at Costco that will even work with the oyster dressing, too. Stick to white wines with lively fruit and acidity and little oak. Select flavor profiles such as citrus, apple, mineral and herbal notes. My recommendations would include an Alsatian Riesling, an Oregon Pinot Gris, a Viognier that was floral and fruity with peach, apricot and pear in the mouth, a Gewurztraminer or a Sauvignon Blanc, with a little herbaceous character to compliment the spices in stuffing and other side dishes.

With holiday leftovers, keep it lively and light!

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