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Wine of the Week

The Perfect White Wine For Turkey

Turkey Day approaches, so it’s time once again to face that ever-perplexing November conundrum: what wine to serve with the festive bird? Hosts and hostesses who handle the cooking of the roast with aplomb, and even show a tolerable hand at carving the thing, frequently become discombobulated when faced with having to choose the accompanying wine.

Part of the problem with turkey is there’s no simple white-with-fish, red-with-meat rule to go by. But such a lack of obvious direction also represents an opportunity, because turkey is an eminently flexible food when it comes to pairing it with wine.

With turkey, white meat predominates—although the dark meat drumsticks are a meal in themselves–so it’s easy to assume a white wine is the best choice. But hold on a minute. Because turkey is so rich, even sweet, it can go well with red wine, too (more, however, on that choice next week).

If you do decide to go with white, it should be a rich, full-bodied version, so no insubstantial Pinot Grigio to mar the holiday table. This is one situation where a California Chardonnay actually works with food, but why not be a bit more adventurous? Why not try a wine altogether more flavorful, more interesting, and utterly suited to turkey—Gewurztraminer? Specifically, a Gewurz from Alsace.

Perhaps because of its tongue-twisting name and funny-shaped bottles, this unfashionable varietal from the region of France next to the Rhine River and the German border is marvelously underpriced and therefore extremely good value.

I’ve tasted several examples over the past few days, and while all were enjoyable, my favorite, this week’s Wine of the Week, is the Gewurztraminer Joseph Cattin 2010 ($17). See, I told you these wines were a bargain.

Rich, succulent, and wonderfully seductive, with a long, gravelly finish, it’s touched with hints of honeysuckle and ripe summer peaches, Mediterranean herbs, and perhaps a hint of ripe Comice pears. It is a wine that will work marvelously with any turkey.

For my red recommendation, check out next week’s column.

To find this wine near you, try Wine Searcher.

When to Drink: Now

Breathing/Decanting: A little breathing helps

Food Pairing: Richer white meats, such as turkey and port, particularly, or Asian food

Grapes: 100% Gewurztraminer

Appellation: Alsace

Region: Alsace

Country: France

Price: $17

Availability: Moderate


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Nick Passmore is an independent wine writer and consultant based in New York. For five years he contributed a widely read monthly wine column to, in addition to which his work has appeared in such publications as Forbes, Discover, Town & Country, the Robb Report, Wine Enthusiast, Saveur, Sky, and Golf Connoisseur. He is currently artisanal editor for Four Seasons magazine and contributes a twice monthly column to He is also a judge at the annual Critics’ Challenge wine competition.

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