Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Aged German Riesling Steals Show, I mean... What I Did for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving dinner was fantastic. It was a gourmet feast with foodies that enjoyed their food and wine and their political talk, although it was all one-sided with much Obama love going around. In other words, a very pleasant evening indeed.

It all started around 2:30 pm when Johan and I arrived - a sunny afternoon it was, and the hosts and other guests were already out back on the patio, enjoying a glass of sparkling wine in the dappled sun. The sparkling wine was being poured out of a magnum - non-vintage Gloria Ferrer Sonoma Brut, a refreshing and fruit-driven sparkler that hit the spot with the amuse-bouches being passed around - house-smoked salmon with a delicious home-made relish, along with some Fuju persimmons doused with lime.

At some point, I went to check on the 1993 Wegeler Kaseler Nieschen Riesling Auslese that I brought, which was in the magnum - I wanted to make sure the wine was sound. The reason - my back-up wine, which ended up not being the 2007 Mosel River Riesling as originally planned, but instead, a bottle of non-vintage Pierre Peters Blanc de Blancs was being asked for by Johan, ie. "You want to open the Champagne now??" I wanted to open the Champagne, but not before I tested the Riesling, just in case it was bad, then I would have to serve the Champagne with the soup course...

Fortunately, the aged Riesling was perfect. I mean, really perfect! Aged, rich, full, lovely. I set it aside to breath, then popped open the Pierre Peters to share, as the Gloria Ferrer was drained.

The Pierre Peters was lovely, with bright zippy fruit and a fine, candied aspect and hint of yeastiness that was delicious. Everyone enjoyed it and it was gone in minutes.

Next, we convened inside at the dinner table, which was gorgeously set. The first course was a rich, creamy corn soup with chunks of bacon, corn, and other veggies. I poured the old Riesling for everyone out of that tall and statuesque magnum bottle and everyone loved it! It was a fun and geeky wine, and met all of my expectations. Actually it exceeded my expectations because it was so rich and complex. It was almost a bit rich for the soup! But that was okay, no one complained too much! Everyone seemed to geek out on the wine, and of course, I was happy about that!

The next course was a crab salad, which meant that it was full of king crab chunks, and dressed with an Asian dressing. The crab had been steamed in beer, which gave it a lot of flavor. The wine pairing here was a couple of bottles of 1999 Billiot Champagne Brut, another fantastic Champagne. Yum, yum, rich, but I think it was somewhat obscured by the Asian dressing on the crab salad. Sesame oil is powerful! Let's just say that I thought the crab salad was excellent and so was the Champagne but I might not have them together again, because it didn't do such justice to the Champagne. A crab salad with a blander mayonnaise-type dressing would have been less exciting, but better for the Champagne, me thinks! I have eaten in Champagne before and their food is rich but not spiced, fat and salt seem to be the main spices there! At any rate, everything still got consumed; it was not like anyone was going to turn down the Billiot or the crab, let's put it that way!

It is interesting - food pairings with wine. Sometimes, the wine can overpower the food (like my Riesling seemed almost to do) and sometimes the food can overpower the wine (like the Asian dressed crab did to the Billiot). The food and wines were still excellent, of course, and if I were offered them again, I wouldn't refuse them! Though I would probably pair a Riesling with the crab dressed with Asian seasonings, and just have the Billiot on its own before dinner!

There was another course slipped in here and it was dates stuffed with chorizo and wrapped in proscuitto. Boy it was rich and sweet! The pairing here was a full bottle of 2003 Chateau d'Arche Grand Cru Classe Sauternes which was surprisingly good, surprisingly since I don't usually like Sauternes, but this was a nice pairing, a sweet pairing but the richness of the wine matched the richness of the food, though it was a mouthful and very filling.

Finally, there was the main course - turkey, stuffing, jello moulds in the shape of fall leaves, gravy, yams. With the main course were 4 red wines. I managed to taste a couple of them - Pinot Noir from California and Cabernet Sauvignon - there was also a couple of Malbecs. I was really so-so about the wines, and found myself really questioning whether I liked red wines at all. I think all the white wines (Champagne, sparkling wine, and Riesling) really stole the show that night, and the reds didn't get to shine. Also, turkey doesn't lend itself to many reds, especially heavier ones like Cab and Malbec. Perhaps if we were having prime rib, then these reds would have tasted better.

We followed with something like 3 desserts - pecan pie, an ice cream cake shaped like a turkey, and pumpkin creme brulee. It was a lot! I don't think I even could touch the pecan pie.....

Coffee was the pairing here, which was perfect. After all this food and wine, we eventually rolled ourselves out the front door.

In other words, Thanksgiving was all that it should have been. Very thankful.


Samantha Dugan said...

Sounds like a great time, good food, great wines....what more could one ask for? Yeah, I avoided red with dinner as well, just found the whites so much more refreshing and better suited to the richly flavored food.

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