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Thanksgiving: The Wine Part 2 – Pinot Noir is King

Notes from The Sommelier:

Part 2:Pinot Noir Is King

Pinot Noir is the undisputed king of Thanksgiving fare, primarily for its versatility of flavor and crowd pleasing finish. From the Willamette Valley, to Russian River Valley, to Burgundy, Pinot Noirs range in a vast variety of styles and flavors. The trick to navigating to your perfect Pinot depends on one key factor: style preference. In general, the style of a Pinot Noir is defied by its place of origin or its terroir. Wine from Oregon’s Willamette Valley, for example, may show beautiful earthy mushroom notes, while wines from France’s famed Burgundy region may express spicy flavors of cinnamon, leather and truffle. For Thanksgiving dinner, I recommend the lush cherry-cola and candied-strawberry flavors of California’s Russian River Valley Pinot Noirs. My very favorite from this region is the 2012 VML Russian River Pinot Noir. With enticing notes of jasmine tea and rhubarb pie, this wine is the perfect match with the pride of the table, the Turkey.


Good quality, inexpensive Pinot Noirs are tricky to find. The grape itself is quite delicate and therefore requires special attention during the wine making process–leading to a more costly price tag to you the customer. As a general rule of thumb, hunt for wines that list specific growing regions or appellations on the label vs. larger area designations. For example, look for words like “Russian River Valley Pinot Noir” vs. “California Pinot Noir” or “Willamette Valley Pinot Noir” vs. “Oregon Pinot Noir.” The idea behind this logic is twofold:

1) By selecting a wine based on small appellations vs. large area designations, you will better get to know which appellations you prefer, and which you don’t.

2) Generally speaking, wines made from small, distinct appellations are often better quality than those made from their larger region counterparts.

Gobble, Gobble, Gobble! –Regina