What Texas Wines Do I Drink on Thanksgiving and with Ten Top Texas Favorites?
1. Thanksgiving – I always like to have both red and white wines and also a sweet wine on the Thanksgiving table. The reason for this selection is that we often serve three meats (turkey, ham and beef brisket) along with sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and a host of desserts. Since I spend a lot of time in the supermarket buying my turkey and all the fixin’s, I want to make sure that my Texas wine selections are readily available at this same location. This year, the wines that I am going with are Llano Estacado (www.llanowine.com) Cellar Select Cabernet Sauvignon (Mont Sec Vineyards) to pair with the brisket, Becker Vineyards (www.beckervineyards.com) Viognier for the turkey, and Messina Hof (www.messinahof.com) Muscat Canelli to serve with the ham. We may also serve a wine with or after dessert, if so, my selection will be Haak Vineyard Madeira Blanc du Bois.
2. Barbeque (BBQ) – Sweet red wines are something particular to Texas. They are throwbacks to the Lambrusco you may have quaffed years ago and the Mustang wines that over five generations of Texans made from native grapes harvested on creek and river banks throughout the state. Most BBQ sauces are hearty and need a pairing with a red wine, but these sauces also have acidity from vinegar and sweetness from sugar, molasses or honey. Good examples of quite palatable Texas sweet red wines are Ed’s Smooth Red (www.twinspringswinery.com), Messina Hof Beau, Llano Estacado Sweet Red, and Pleasant Hill (www.pleasanthillwinery.com) Collina Rossa.
3. Tex-Mex – This may surprise you, but I choose Muscat Canelli to pair with a wide range of Tex-Mex foods. This is white grape that grows extremely well in Texas, making an intriguingly floral and aromatic wine. Made with a hint of sweetness, Muscat Canelli mitigates the piquant of spicy Tex-Mex foods from tacos to enchiladas and carne asada to tamales. It also breaks the commonly held rule: Red meat goes with red wine. I recently had buffalo enchiladas and paired it with Sister Creek (www.sistercreekvineyards.com) Muscat Canelli, which made a much more interesting and pleasing pairing than any of the red wines I tried.
4. Texas Beer – OK, OK…..you might say this is asking for trouble here; but, believe it or not Texas fruit wines when combined with beer makes a fascinating drink. Examples, include Bruno and George Winery (www.brunoandgeorge.com) Yellow Jacket raspberry wine or Maydelle Winery (www.maydellewines.com) elderberry or lime wines. I suggest 1 parts wine and two parts beer, but you can choose the proportion most to your liking. You might even serve the concoction over ice for a refreshing drink.
5. Texas State Fair Fried Foods – I just covered this subject in a previous blog article and received lots of suggestions. My personal favorite wine pairing from this the “Chicken Fried Bacon” exercise was Texas-produced Viognier, a crisp white wine that cuts right through the greasy veneer of fried foods. Viognier can be made in a variety of styles, but most commonly it is of medium body with aromas of peach, apricots and even honeysuckle. Best exemplars come from Texas wineries such as Brennan Vineyards (www.brennanvineyards.com), McPherson Cellars (www.mcphersoncellars.com), Becker Vineyards and Grape Creek (www.grapecreek.com).
6. Texas Beef – This food pairing calls for a refined, full bodied red wine capable of up to five to ten years of aging potential. Three premium Texas red wines that you need in your wine cellar (waiting especially to accompany your fire grilled steak) are: Llano Estacado Viviano, Fall Creek (www.fcv.com) Meritus, Paulo Bordeaux Blend, San Martino (www.sanmartinowinery.com) Tempranillo, and Sandstone Cellars (www.sandstonecellarswinery.com) VI. These award winning wines are complete with rich dark berry flavors augmented with toasty oak and warm vanilla aromas.
7. Texas Bluebonnets – This pairing requires a light bodied white wine capable of holding your interest for hours as you sit on your back porch or on the back porch of a Texas Hill Country B&B while sipping, allured by the captivating attraction of a field of Texas’ state flower. Two Texas white wines that I believe have this special quality include: Grape Creek Viognier (dry white wine) and Haak Vineyards (www.haakwine.com) Blanc du Bois (Blue label – semi-sweet). For those that prefer fine red wines that please sip-after-sip and can go equally well with red meat or sipped while viewing a field of flowers (a hard task for most red wines) are Driftwood Vineyard (www.driftwoodvineyards.com) Lone Star Cabernet, Becker Vineyard Prairie Rotie and Llano Estacado Signature Mélange (Rhone-style blend).
8. Texas Football – This pairing needs a fun wine, something that goes as well with a touchdown celebratory toast and with the fine fare that sustains you through a game-day party. Fun wines like CapRock (www.caprockwinery.com) Blush Royale (Rose of Ruby Cabernet Texas), Dry Comal Creek (www.drycomalcreek.com) White-Black Spanish, and Enoch’s Stomp Vineyard (www.enochsstomp.com) Blanc du Bois (off-dry) go well with pizza, little wieners in sweet/sour sauce, popcorn, seven layer dip, and a plethora of tortilla chips.
9. Texas Rodeo – People reading this from the top wine producing states (i.e. California, Oregon, Washington and New York) are rolling their eye about now. However, in Texas, the premier wine competition is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo International Wine Competition. This event and its wine auction has quickly jumped into the top ten wine events in the county, and boy can they pick wines! Recent Texas winners include: Kiepersol Estates Vineyard (www.kiepersol.com) Barrel 33 Bordeaux Blend, Messina Hof Paulo Bordeaux Blend, Becker Vineyards Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon, Messina Hof Private Reserve Shiraz, Peregrine Hill Chardonnay, Haak Vineyards and Winery Jacquez Madeira, and Piney Woods Country Winery (www.pineywoodswines.com) Texas Moon Magnolia (White Muscadine). The Top Texas Wine in the recently completed 2010 Rodeo Wine Competition in Houston was Flat Creek Estate (www.flatcreekestate.com) Mistella (a dessert style, brandy-fortified Muscat).
10. Texas (Gulf Coast) Seafood – This is one of my favorite pairings for Texas wines, especially spicy shrimp, snapper or blackened redfish preparations. They call for a wine that can handle intense flavors and shine through while quenching the heat of cayenne and cutting through buttery sauces. Two wines particularly come to mind: Both Messina Hof and Becker Vineyards make Gewürztraminers (the “G”wine). Messina Hof’s version has a hint of sweetness while Becker makes it in a dry Alsatian style. For that special meal, look for Llano Estacado Viviana (a premium aromatic white blend and partner to their best selling rosso blend, Viviano). For gulf oysters (on the half shell, of course) try another Texas favorite – Haak Vineyards Dry Blanc du Bois (Green label) that is crisp and tart with essence of lemon jest and grapefruit.
11. Texas Pecan Pie – It’s time to close with a bit of Texas sweetness; what else, but pecan pie. First off, this is not just pie with a façade of nuts on the surface. Real Texas pecan pies have a pecan plethora through and through, just ask my wife. Texas pecan pie also is served warm with a scope of Texas Blue Bell French vanilla ice cream. Grand pairings are Landon Winery (www.landonwinery.com) Grand Finale Texas Tawny and Pleasant Hill Tawny Rosso Forte.
More wine and food pairing suggestions for wines from Washington, Texas, Colorado, Virginia and more, at: