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Italian Red Wine Choices for Thanksgiving

November 24, 2010

Photo courtesy of National Wild Turkey Federation

Dario Soldan, President of Classico Fine Wines, the Arizona wine distributor that specializes in fine Italian wines, believes the Thanksgiving holiday is a great time to try a new wine, especially an Italian red wine.  “This is the day when friends and family prepare elaborate dishes”  he notes.  “In the Soldan house, we enjoy everything from the traditional roasted turkey, to Consuelo’s Italian sausage and pear stuffing, to pumpkin soup, and homemade apple pie. We love the American food traditions on this holiday, but always look to the versatile wines from our home country to enjoy with these dishes.”  We asked Soldan to give us some guidance on what he recommends for this Thanksgiving, and why.

Soldan told us that his entertaining style is to place several wines on a self-serve bar on holidays, where guests can help themselves to whatever their preference.  He likes lighter wines over heavy on this occasion and prefers reds over whites.   “Whatever your preference be sure to find selections that are lighter in style and lighter in alcohol.   The Thanksgiving feast is an all day affair and by drinking wines that are lighter in style, and lighter in alcohol, you can experiment with a variety of flavors with different dishes.  The key is to find a wine that isn’t so heavy that it overpowers, or drowns out, the great flavors of the meal.”  His preferred red wine choices for this Thanksgiving include: 

Grignolino, Castello di Neive, Piedmont Region

100% Grignolino. 

Situated in one of Italy’s most picturesque hilltop villages, Castello di Neive produces Grignolino, meaning “grape pips.”  “This is a wine varietal not familiar to many Arizonan’s, but essentially it is a Rose’ ” Soldan said.   This Piedmont grape has been known for a very long time as Barbesino.  The Grignolino grape makes wine that is made to consume when young.  It has fruity aromas, raspberry and floral notes and hints of citrus and spice.  Grignolino is a wine that complements foods with a high fat content.  “The Thanksgiving meal is full of these types of dishes, so choosing a Grignolino with a high acidity level will help to balance the richness of a dish,” according to Soldan.


Lambrusco di Sorbara, Pezzuoli, Emilia-Romagna Region

100% Lambrusco Grasparossa    

Lambrusco is a sparkling red wine whose primary characteristics are it’s pale red color, semisweet flavor, is slightly effervescent, lighter in style, with a low alcohol content.  The vine grows on the dry soils of the Modenese uplands and lower hillslopes, an area dotted with country mansions and ancient castles in Emila-Romagna.

“This wine is deep ruby in color, with a slight violet sheen.  A Frizzante (fizzy) wine with a notable bouquet that is both fruity, fragrant and interesting.   It has a pleasant scent of peach-almonds and it’s  flavor is well balanced in acidity and and slightly fruity.  We particularly enjoy this wine with roasted turkey.”  Soldan said.


Pinot Nero Terre di Gioia, Trentino Alto Adige

100% Pinot Nero

For centuries, the Armani family has produced wines that express the unique flavors and local flair of the majestic land covered in mountains and forests located near the Adige River.  Passionate and protective of its vines,  the Terre di Gioia brand was created from a selection of the best vines grown in Chizzola (Trentino), Sequals (Fruili), and Dolcé (Veneto).  This winery produces wines are easy to drink and have an elegant style.  Their smooth, fruity tastes are a direct result of their land and an expression of its beauty.

Soldan explains his choice for this wine. “Pinot Nero in Italian is essentially a Pinot Noir.  Traditionally, a Pinot Noir is the preferred wine to serve with a Thanksgiving meal because it is neutral, yet elegant and aromatic.”  The Terre di Gioia is lighter in color, with an intense and silky texture.  “I like this wine for its rich and intense flavor profile of black cherries, which adds a wonderful dimension, yet it is not sweet in flavor.”


Pinot Noir Fleur de  California, Carneros

100% Pinot Noir    

Although this wine is not Italian, Soldan suggests the Fleur de California Pinot Noir as another good choice due to its dried cranberry flavors.   It is made by Francis and Kathy Mahoney who set out to realize a dream: to grow Pinot Noir and make wines that would stand up to the French Burgundies.  They succeeded by producing this bright, fresh, and charming Pinot Noir.  The brilliant ruby color sets the stage for aromas of pomegranate, and bright red fruits, along with white pepper and spice.  Effusive fruit flavors dominate the palate while the wine remains soft, supple, and elegant in the mouth.


Baroli Madonna Di Como, Dolcetto D’Alba, Piedmont

100% Dolcetto

The red grape variety, Dolcetto, originated in the Monferrato area of Italy, and is widely and successfully planted throughout Piedmont. Soldan says that “Dolcetto refers to the particular hint of sweetness in the grape, although this wine is dry in style. The area known as “Madonna di Como” refers to a very interesting cru, which, according to ancient records, has been dedicated to the cultivation of Dolcetto since the fourth century.”

The color is deep ruby red with purple tints, while the bouquet displays sweet fruity aromas such as violet, wild blackberry. This wine is consistent and mature and it offers a harmonious and complex balance of tannins and a good acidity, followed by a long appealing finish with typical hints of almond.

Soldan’s last piece of advice.  “It’s difficult enough choosing between roast turkey or ham, garlic mashed potatoes or sweet-potatoes, butternut squash or green bean casserole, cranberry jelly or cranberry sauce, pumpkin or apple pie.  Make the wine choice simple by trying these Italian wines for this holiday season.” 

Look for these wines at the following Phoenix-area retailers:  AJ’s Fine Foods, AZ Wines, Bacchus Fine Wines, Phoenix Wine, De Falco Grocery, and Terroir.


From → Varietals, Wines

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