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Wine pairing Thanksgiving Day leftovers, part one

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Even five days later, many of us are still working through our variety of turkey leftovers: from turkey stew, to turkey sandwiches, to turkey chili. There are many options. One would think the wines we enjoyed with the original Thanksgiving repast would work just as well with the leftovers, but part of the art of making leftovers is to make them different from their original expression, so a new pairing might be the best alternative. Of course it depends on the kind of a leftover to hone in on a perfect pairing so let’s look at three options: turkey stew, turkey sandwich and turkey chili.

After boiling down the picked over carcass of turkey, I made a peppery turkey stew with Trader Joe’s Lemon Pepper paparadelle. In a large stew pot I put a base of diced onion, carrot, celery, a couple of garlic cloves and some leftover fresh thyme used in the stuffing, cooked down in EVOO, to that magical translucent stage. Now I add the turkey stock I’d just created (a good iced tea pitcher-full of stock, to be precise) and some of the saved light and dark meat. I used mushrooms and wilted spinach to fill it out, but like any good stew it should be whatever you need to move out of your fridge. Since I’m adding pasta I chose not to use potatoes, but sweet potatoes would be an excellent addition. This is a peppery stew thanks in part to the Lemon Pepper pasta, but I did add in a Hungarian wax pepper to punch up the flavor. One should note that the pasta has a strong black pepper flavor that only get stronger as it soaks into the base soup. Add the noodles after about an hour of base stew cooking. I do like to let these noodles get very soft in the stew, almost like dumplings.

I’d choose a softer white like the Edgebaston Honey Pot White Blend from Stellenbosch, South Africa. Sauvignon Blanc provides a good acid base, and the Viognier elevates the floral aromas fooling one into thinking the wine had some residual sugar, but it doesn’t. That floral sweetness balances the pepper qualities of the stew and the bright gooseberry acid of the Sauvy cuts through any leftover turkey fat. I final nose of tropical fruits, litchi and papaya fill out the experience. This well-rated wine is only $15 at your local ABC Fine Wines and Spirits. Any domestic Viognier, or a soft white blend like Dalliance White, or even a classic White Bordeaux would also pair well with this stew.

I really want to choose the Edgebaston Pepper Pot, to pair with this stew but I think that might bring too much black pepper to the meal. It’s good to pick up notes from a dish but to overwhelm the palate with one flavor just doesn’t work for pairing. I might be more apt to choose the Edgebaston Berry Box as a softer red blend, but any ripe and juicy Zinfandel blend would be fine, like the new Playtime Zin blend from Clay Shannon in Lake County California. Sustainable and very affordable at $10 per bottle, Playtime fits that soft red blend niche inhabited by Menage a Trois and Apothic, but has more complexity, blended with Grenache, Petite Verdot and Barbera. Black cherry, plum and blackberry notes mingle with a hint of vanilla and spice. Soft on the acid and with abundant fruit makes this a fine wine to pair with a very peppery stew, but still be light enough to enjoy the turkey flavors (from that stock, especially). This wine is also available locally at ABC Fine Wines and Spirits.

Next time, turkey chili pairings.

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