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Weekend Wine: Talking turkey

This week Vin gives us his picks for the Thanksgiving Sales and recipes so be sure to read up before heading out on your last-minute run for wine

It may be cutting it close to start sharing turkey recipes with the Thanksgiving weekend already upon us, but I was recently provided with three turkey recipes with which three wines were paired.  

Sharing them now gives us a chance to consider why these particular types of wine might have been considered appropriate for each of the recipes. If you don’t have time now to select one for your Bird, it might give you a head-start for Christmas! 

The recipes were developed by Executive Chef Nikko Jacino of The Luxe Appliance Studio in Toronto.  Each recipe features a 12lb turkey, and all of them involve rubs and are prepared 6 to 12 hours prior to cooking – so basically you need to start a day ahead.

Traditional Turkey

Rub:  1/4 cup butter, softened, zest of one lemon, 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped, 

2 tbsp fresh thyme, 5 garlic cloves, minced, and 1 tbsp kosher salt.

Combine all the rub ingredients in a small bowl and mix well with a fork to incorporate.  Set aside. 

Using your fingers, gently separate the skin from the breast muscle. Grab small portions of the butter mix and spread evenly on the meat beneath the skin. (Spreading evenly will result in consistent browning.)  Lather the outside of the skin as well.  Place the turkey on a wire rack over a baking sheet and chill uncovered in the fridge for 6-12 hours.

Stuffing:  1 pear, quartered, 1 lemon, quartered, 1 white onion quartered, 4 garlic cloves, crushed, 1 cup fresh parsley, and 4 sprigs of thyme.

Remove turkey from the fridge and fill the cavity with the stuffing.  Twine the legs together and fold the wings under the breast.  Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour.

To Cook:  Pre-heat the oven to 450֯  F.  Season the bird with salt and place in the oven for 25 minutes.  Reduce temperature to 320 ֯ F and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the turkey breast reaches an internal temperature of 165 ֯ F. Remove from the oven and loosely tent with tin foil.  Rest at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.  

(The cooking time seems short to me unless you have convection oven.  Please check your cookbooks to see what they suggest.)

The Wine - Nugan Estate Annelise Pinto Grigio 2016, $14.95, is a crisp and lively Australian white with delicate apple and pear notes leading to a lip-smacking finish.  It needs to be chilled, but not to the point that the flavours are totally masked.

What we can take away from this suggestion is that lighter and fresh wines ought to work best in order to appreciate the flavour of the bird. If you must serve red, consider Gamay or Beaujolais… or an Italian Barbera. A dry Rosé is another possibility.  

Indian-Style Turkey

The Rub – 2 cups of whole yogurt, 1 white onion roughly chopped, 6 garlic cloves peeled, 1 heaping tbsp. grated fresh ginger, juice of one lemon, 2 tsp ground turmeric, 2 tsp ground pink peppercorn, 2 tsp ground cumin, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp cayenne pepper, 1tbsp kosher salt.

To Prepare:  Place all rub ingredients in a food processor and blend until roughly smooth.  Place the 12 pound turkey in a large metal bowl and pour yogurt mixture over top.  Massage the mixture into the cavity and crevasses of the turkey.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

To Cook:  Remove the turkey from the fridge and unwrap.  Place the turkey on a wire rack over a parchment lined tray.  Twine the legs together and fold wings under the breast.  Let stand at room temperature for at least an hour.  

Pre-heat the oven to 425 ֯ F.  Season the turkey with salt and place in the oven ofr 25 minutes.  Reduce the temperature to 320 ֯ F and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the breast is 165 ֯ F.  Remove from the oven, tent loosely with tin foil, and let rest at room temperature for 1 hour before serving.

(Again, consult your cookbooks to make sure you are allowing enough time for the bird to cook properly.)

The Wine – Norton Barrel-Select Malbec 2015, $12.95, has surprising depth for a lighter red.  Moderate dark-berry fruit is accompanied by a leafy tobacco note towards the finish, and there are soft but noticeable tannins on the decently long finish.  This Argentinian wine has the perfect structure and profile to handle the Indian spices – very good flavour, but not too heavy.  What else could you try?  Perhaps a medium-weight Zinfandel or a Côtes-du Rhone from France… but this Malbec might be spot-on for both the pairing and the price.

Southern-Style Rotisserie Turkey

This is a brined bird, and brining certainly is one way to ensure the moistest meat you could hope for.  Come Christmas, you might be able to leave this in your cold room or garage over-night to chill properly, and free up fridge space.

Brine: 1 tbsp peppercorns, 5 bay leaves, 2 sprigs fresh thyme, 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 lemons quartered, 1 cup kosher salt, 3/4 cup brown sugar, 6 cups water, ice.

Place all the brine ingredients except the ice in a pot large enough to hold the turkey.  Heat on stove until sugar and salt dissolve, stirring gently.  Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Place turkey in the pot and fill with ice.  Cover and place in the fridge for 12 hours.

The Rub:  1/4 cup softened butter, 1 tsp paprika, 11/2 tsp fresh oregano, 1 chipotle pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, 1 tbsp kosher salt, 1 sprig fresh sage, roughly chopped. 

In a small bowl, combine all ingredients for the rub, mixing well with a fork until fully incorporated.  Set aside.

Stuffing:  1 apple, cored and quartered; 1 lemon, quartered; 2 sprigs fresh sage; 4 sprigs fresh parsley; ½ white onion, cut into six; 6 garlic cloves, smashed.

To Cook: Remove the turkey from the brine and place in a sink, washing with cold water.  Pat the turkey as dry as possible and let sit at room temperature for at least 1 hour.

Pre-heat the oven to 450 ֯ F.  

Using your fingers, gently separate the turkey skin from the breast.  Grab small portions of the rub and place between the breast and the skin.  Spread evenly throughout to help with consistent browning.  Lather the outside of the skin as well.

Fill the bird with the stuffing, twine the legs together and fold the wings under the breast.  Season the outside of the bird with salt.  Outfit the turkey with the rotisserie rod and forks, placing a parchment lined tray on the bottom rack of your oven.  Add the turkey to the rotisserie.  Let the turkey cook for 20minutes, then reduce heat to 320 ֯ F, and cook for 1 hour and 45 minutes or until the breast reached an internal temperature of 165 ֯ F.

Remove from the oven and let rest for at least an hour at a room temperature. Remove rods and forks, and serve.

If you don’t have a rotisserie, cook conventionally for the same times in a convection oven.  

Note: Though not specified, all the cooking times given for these recipes are probably intended for a convection oven.  Make sure you check to see what times a conventional oven requires for the same size bird.

The Wine - Emiliana Novas Carménèere Cabernet Sauvignon, $16.15, is from Chile’s largest organic vineyard.  Deep and dense with ample dark plum dark cherry fruit, this wine is plush with soft tannins and very satisfying and tasty. It is balanced and would pair well with the seasonings which adorn this bird. A red wine with big fruit is in order – perhaps an Australian Shiraz or a Cabernet or Merlot from Washington State would also suffice – but it would be hard to beat the Emilana at this price.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Holiday Sale

Through October 11, The LCBO has a Thanksgiving Week sale on. I would be buying the following:

Sella & Mosca Cannonau di Sardegna Riserva, $12.95 ($4 off)  This popular Vintages Essential from Sardinia never disappoints.  The grape in France is known as Grenache, and this dry version would pair well with beef or a Bolognese pasta sauce.

Cupcake Red Velvet, $11.95, ($4 off).  If your predilection is towards reds that are softer and a smidgen off-dry, this will satisfy you most certainly with its 15 grams of sugar per litre. (Here’s the thing – the thanksgiving flyer says 5 grams per liter, whereas the website says 15: suffice to say it is tending to the off-dry.)  Zinfandel based, it offers red berry fruit, cocoa, and a degree of lushness.

Bolla Pinot Grigio Delle Venezie, $10, ($3 off) Peach and melon along with decent acidity characterize this wine. At $10 it has to be very tempting -you can’t go wrong.

October 14 Vintages Release

White Wine

Vetiver Viura 2014, $14.95 - This intriguing Spanish white ranked #62 in the Top100 Smart Buys of 2016 in The Wine Spectator.  “Pear and quince notes mingle with brioche, chamomile and dried pineapple details.”  91.

I wouldn’t consider this a particularly good release for “bargain whites”, but in Chardonnays, there are a couple of interesting and informative comparisons.

Ontario vs. B.C. Chardonnay

Flatrock Chardonnay 2015, $18.95, from Niagara has a “slight creaminess on the mid-palate” that is “balanced with nice acidity. The fruit really pushes into tropical territory with pineapple and tangerine.” 4 stars plus, says the

Castoro De Oro Unoaked Chardonnay 2015, $22.95. Carrying flavours of applesauce, ripe peach and buttercream, it strikes a nice balance between sleek elegance and round opulence” according to the Vintages panel.  

Try them both and see which style appeals to you more.

Burgundy vs. Chablis

In France, Burgundy is the region for Chardonnay, but there is a difference between the “Bourgogne” and Chablis.  Traditionally, the wines from the sub-region of Chablis see no oak, and so the flinty wines are distinctly different from the rest of Burgundy.

Jean-Marc Brocard Sainte Claire Chablis 2015, $26.95- “Rich…yet with a salty tang to the apple, melon, yellow plum and lemon flavors. The Chalky, minerally finish adds a sense of place.”  90 -

Joseph Drouhin Bourgogne Chardonnay 2015, $22.95.  From a most reliable produce we find “impressive apple, melon and honey notes framed by delicately applied oak.  Fresh and vibrant with a backbone of firm acidity that brings balance and poise.”  -Vintages Panel

Red Wine

Altivo Red 2015, $12.95 from Portugal’s Dão region is “beautifully balanced…elegant [with] remarkably supple texture.  The palate shows layers of dark fruit, figs, plum and spice with a long and inviting finish.”  92+

Confidencial Reserva 2013, $13.95, is from the Portuguese region near Lisbon. “Produced from a field blend of more than 40 different varieties, the wine is stylishly structured and ripe with blackberry fruits.”  Wine Enthusiast – 91.

The Grinder Pinotage 2015, $13.95, is a South African red wine that carries overtones of coffee created by the judicious toasting of the barrels.  They suggest pairing it with dark chocolate, smoked meats or curries.

Losi Querciavalle Chianti Classico 2011, $16.95, “The smooth, delicious palate doles out juicy black cherry, black raspberry, licorice and chopped mint set in a framework of silky, supple tannins.”  Wine enthusiast – 92.

Franciscan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2014, $29.95, from the Napa Valley has to grab your attention. Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon is one of the most expensive grapes in the world, and many wines sell in the $100 range and up. This wine exhibits very good fruit right now, despite the expected tannins.  It balances dark cherry and berry fruit against the silkiness of the tannins, and carries an undertone of coffee.  I recently tasted a whole slew of Napa Cabs, and found a number of them currently “inaccessible” in terms of drinkability; and I would be much happier with three or four bottles of this enjoyable red than any one of the much more expensive wines one finds in the valley.  You could lay this one down for a couple of years, or decant it now for a few hours and enjoy with your rib-eye.

The 2014 vintage of Kim Crawford Small Parcels Rise & Shine Pinot Noir, $29.95, is now appearing on our Vintages shelves.  While the impression at first is of a light wine, the character is true to the varietal, with strawberry/mulberry fruit and a sense of rosemary. The long, long, finish exhibiting the lightest of tannins confirms this wines significant pedigree. 

From the Winery

Jackson-Triggs Grand Reserve Series Pinot Grigio 2016, $19.95.  One immediately notes the fruit in this wine, though the acidity is ample and as expected.  This is as attractive as any Sauvignon Blanc – without the gooseberry character.  Clean and ample, offering pear and lemon-lime notes, the wine is a very fine sipper, and would make any seafood dish a perfect partner.  Visit to purchase.