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With the festivities coming up, it is time to celebrate cherished time with family and friends over fantastic food and wine, taking time to appreciate what this year has offered us, while putting training on the back burner.
For the purpose of this article, I have decided to pair wines with a healthy Thanksgiving side option. Thanksgiving meals, despite their reputations, offer an array of side options that will work with any healthy diets. Think of green beans, cream of spinach, vegetable purées, such as split pea or broccoli purées, and, even stuffing (or "dressing" as some people call it), as healthy side options.
A staple of Thanksgiving dinner, stuffing is appreciated by most, whether eaten by itself or with turkey. My healthy version of stuffing is a white truffle cornbread stuffing, inspired by Bessie Bakes' recipe. This stuffing is gluten-free and vegetarian, and can be slightly modified to also be dairy-free. As a note, you will need to make the cornbread a few days before making the stuffing so it can dry out.
Ingredients for 6-8 people
For the cornbread
For the stuffing
Two days before Thanksgiving: Mix the dry ingredients together and the eggs until combined. Add the buttermilk (or substitute) and the two oils and stir until incorporated. Adjust the seasoning, if needed. Bake in a muffin pan at 450 degrees until golden brown (about 15-20 minutes). The muffins need to dry out for about 1-2 days for best results.
On Thanksgiving Day: Heat a large pan over medium heat. Melt the butter (or olive oil) and sauté the onions, celery, and fresh herbs until the onions are translucent. In a large bowl, dice the cornbread into equal-sized portions. Then add the vegetable mixture, salt, pepper, egg and mushroom broth. Stir until combined. Adjust the seasoning, if needed. Place in an anti-stick casserole dish and bake at 375 degrees for about 40-45 minutes, or until it is golden brown on top. Once out of the oven, sprinkle the crust with the white truffle oil.
With this white truffle cornbread stuffing and my Thanksgiving meal, I like to drink wines that have good acidity and well integrated tannin with herbs, umami and savory notes, such as Cabernet Franc, light Syrah, Schavia, light Nebbiolo, and Mencía. Dry Pet-Nats are also great options. My wine was Clos de La Bonnete 2016 Collines Rhodaniennes Cisselande (Syrah).
I have gathered a list of beautiful wines to accompany this white truffle cornbread stuffing (and Thanksgiving meals in general). Enjoy and see you running or riding! Caroline Coursant
From a plot of very old Chenin Blanc vines, François' Brut NV is kept on the lees for 18 months before bottling. It has pretty apple, pear, floral and toasty flavors with good acidity balancing the fruit. The current cuvée is from 2014 and it's one of their best ever - a bit riper than usual with round but well defined fruit—a great alternative to Champagne, it's delicious as an apéritif before the meal or afterwards with apple pie. This is a great choice during the holidays - a real crowd-pleaser at a great price, before, after or during the meal!
Chad Stock's inspiration to make sparkling wine was Brut Nature Cava with long lees aging - a worthy fascination that should inform more new-world sparkling wine production! He has now released Experiment #17 (the same base wine as Experiment #10, disgorged after 24 months on the lees) this time disgorged after 48 months on the lees. Elegance and complexity are not guaranteed to increase with longer lees aging, but in this case the extra two years contributed great length and layers, harnessing the autolytic grit and glamour of our favorite long-aged Cavas. Creamy aromas of almond cake, agrumes, lavender honey, orange blossom, and yellow apple; the palate is dry, textured, long, and lovely, with gentle bubbles permeating the palate of yellow peach, Asian pear, meadow flowers and tea leaves, with gentle yeasty notes of bee pollen, chamomile, almond, brine, and a hint of bitter earth. This is dreamy wine, with enough breadth and complexity to compliment smoked bluefish or game birds. Ariana Rolich
Now I kinda feel bad writing a note for this as I don’t know how many bottles are left in the clip. But if ever a wine has hit its groove/sweet spot, this is certainly it. Dusty blackberry, lavender, violets, dried roses, sous-bois, and spice on the nose. The supple, sneakily sinewy palate is a kaleidoscopic blend of earthy/fruity/savory/spice notes. You want dewberry? Sure! How ‘bout a kiss of sandalwood? Why not! Cherry pit with a hint of Lapsang Souchong and just a touch of iodine? No sweat! There’s a whole lotta shaking and a bit of rock steady goin’ on here. Tannins are resolved, acidity has softened, and there’s this quietly assured nuance going on. How ‘bout shy confidence? However you want to dance about that architecture, this is drinking beautifully. Great with tagliolini with prosciutto San Daniele, radicchio, and poppy seeds and fantastic with a cheese plate and furnishing light and joy on a blustery night. John McIlwain
The Batardiere Clos des Noels is a beautiful Cabernet Franc with vibrant red fruit and light body. Red floral notes are followed by ripe strawberry and cherry with a hint of pine needle on the nose. The wine is more earthy on the palate with some tannin and bright, fresh acidity.
Clos de la Bonnette makes this lovely 100% Syrah using grapes from a young organic grower in Suzette, near Beaumes-de-Venise. The vines are about 40 years-old, grown on clay/limestone soils, the juice is vinified with light extraction and aged in old barrels.
Oeillades is an old variety of Cinsault, rarely seen anymore in the Languedoc. Thierry Navarre, who is proud of his vineyards of "forgotton varieties," produces Terret and Ribeyrenc as well as this lovely light-bodied Oeillades. The 2016 shows intriguing aromas of red currant and plum, with brown spice, rose, earth and citrus peel. The palate is dense but relatively light, at 11.5% alcohol, with spicy red currant, plum and tart cherry fruit with earth and floral notes. The finish is long with spicy red fruits, earth and citrus. This is a perfect accompaniment to charcuterie and spicy main courses of chicken, pork and lamb. Serve cool, great value, of course. DL
I cannot think of a California winemaker working today whom we admire and celebrate as enthusiastically as Steve Edmunds of Edmunds St. John. Displaying a greater resemblance to L'Anglore Tavel than to the typical California GSM blend, 2015 Rocks and Gravel is juicy and generous with invigorating acidity and lots of life ahead. Perfumed and mouth-watering aromas of wild rose, black currant, tea leaves, and wild cherry with a terrifically spicy, bright and balanced palate of black raspberry, cherries and cherry skins, sweet tobacco, juicy young tannins and vibrant acidity. Medium bodied and crystal clear at 13.2% alcohol, this wine opens up beautifully and will reward cellaring. Ariana Rolich
Our love affair is going strong with Drovers Pinot Noir, a collaboration between our friends at Encore Wine Imports and Brad Ford of Illahe Vineyards. Consistently delicious, but always reflective of vintage, Drovers delivers freshness and depth and a terrific price point. In 2015 there is rich dark cherry, crushed berries, earth, cola, and spice, with more density than the 2014 and admirable balance. Ariana Rolich
Xavi Soeanes' organically farmed, unadulterated Ribeira Sacra wines (non-DO) rank next to our favorites from Silice and Laura Lorenzo for clarity of expression and purity of process. BRZ is a veritable ode to Brancellao, a native red grape of Galicia that gives freshness and complexity to many of our favorite Mencia-based blends from Ribeira Sacra. Pradio's Brancellao is planted on sandy soils over granite at 300m altitude in A Peroxa. Aromas of sweet, breezy florals, waft into the delicately built, acid- and mineral-driven palate of tart cherry, tea leaf and spicy hibiscus.
Silice Viticultores is a partnership between super-talented winegrower Fredi Torres and brothers Carlos and Juan Rodriguez, who are dedicated to shining light on the power of the steep and mighty Ribeira Sacra region to produce complex and luscious red wines without excessive intervention. Farming is organic and biodynamic, with no additives or manipulation in the cellar (beyond tiny amounts of SO2), which sets Silice apart in a region where chemical farming and acidification of wines are commonplace. Primarily Mencia, with Merenzao, Albarello, Garnacha Tintorera, and some white grapes, from multiple small vineyards on slate and granite slopes in Amandi averaging 60-80 years old. Aromas of sweet smoke and tangy wild berries, herbs, and damp earth meet a juicy, mid-weight palate of tart cranberry, wild cherries, sour plum, cedar smoke and blueberries, with wild thyme, purple and blue florals, and salty, funky soil. Lovers of Pinot Noir and Cru Beaujolais in search of some Spanish sun, spice, and soul need look no further. Ariana Rolich
2015 Poula was made in the old style of the village of Albares ("My neighbors love it!" winemaker Germán Blanco proclaimed), composed of Garnacha Tintorera, Mencía, Portuguesa (Trousseau), and 40% white grapes Jerez (Palomino), Godello, Doña Blanca, foot-trodden in stone lagars and raised in amphora for 12 months. Poula is the only Casa Aurora wine made from a blend of parcels, most of which are too tiny to vinify on their own (they are listed on the front label). Lively, joyful, teeming with mouth-watering scents and flavors of wild berries, fermented grapes, mountain herbs, silky florals, and a pleasing tickle of tannin. Serve chilled. Ariana Rolich
The Stadlmann family has been making wine since the 1780s in the Thermenregion; sheltered from the northern winds by the Vienna Woods, it is one of Austria's warmest wine growing areas. The 'Classic' line of wines are aged in large, used barrels to showcase the true character of the grape and terroir. 2015 is darker on the nose than 2013, with notes of cherry cola, black cherries, and red flowers. The palate is smooth and juicy with bright flavors of tart yet candied red cherries. A wonderful wine to have with a wide range of food! Cari Bernard
Unusually slender for a red wine bottle, the Puszta Libre! bottle shape takes its inspiration from vintage soda bottles, a cheeky nod to how chuggable this wine is; and if that's not enough we are also instructed by the label to "drink cold"! Mostly Zweigelt with Sankt Laurent, fermented in stainless steel and aged in large (600L to 1000L) used oak barrels. An electric purple in the glass, this vintage brings us a bit more mineral cut with notes of black raspberries, raspberry seed, tart red plum, ripe red cherries, and fresh juicy blackberries. Cari Bernard