Thursday, November 23, 2006

A Sparkling Thanksgiving

Miranda and I have been preparing some of the side dishes for Thanksgiving dinner that we will celebrate at a friend’s home. OK, to be correct I was simply serving as the dogsbody. But while we both slaved away we listened to others call into a talkback show on NPR with their own potential culinary disasters. One of the guests was Joshua Wesson of Best Cellars wine shops and Best Sommelier in America in 1984, among other accomplishments. Joshua had been asked onto the show to provide advice about wines for Thanksgiving. His advice? A very strong recommendation for Australian Sparkling Shiraz! The reasons he suggests sparkling Shiraz? Well the lighter alcohol and hence lighter body together with the slight sweetness help to cut through all that fat and salt that goes with a Thanksgiving meal. That sounds reasonable to me, plus it’s a celebratory wine. What more could you need?

Joshua is not the only one to be extolling the virtues of sparkling Shiraz for Thanksgiving. I’d seen an article in the San Diego Union Tribune on August 2nd by food writer Maria C. Hunt where she noted that “In Australia, sparkling shiraz is the traditional wine paired with Thanksgiving turkey.” I didn’t have the heart to write in and say that we don’t celebrate Thanksgiving downunder because she at least had the right idea about what wine to serve!

Are we serving sparkling Shiraz this Thanksgiving? No, we will be going with a couple of big, bold Aussie Shiraz. But that is only because I had promised to provide some interesting, if perhaps not appropriate wines. The Sparkling Shiraz we have in the cellar will see the light of day around Christmas. One is the 2004 Majella Sparkling Shiraz from Coonawarra in South Australia ($24USD). The other, another 2004, is quite inexpensive at $10USD. It’s the Paringa Individual Vineyard Sparkling Shiraz from South Australia; I guess its true, South Australia is just one big individual vineyard!

This second wine is not a classic example of sparkling Shiraz, although it is good value. It became a purchase only because I had the choice of two wines. And that may have been the problem if you were out looking for a sparkling Shiraz for Thanksgiving, or any celebration. There are not a lot of alternatives. That was why it was so pleasing to hear that Joshua Wesson was so enthusiastic about Australian sparkling Shiraz. If the demand builds, then the supply will follow.

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