Tag Archives: wine

Mulled Apple Cider Cocktail

Mulled Apple Cider Cocktail
Serves 4
The football games have already started, and it’s time to think of cider mills, sweet caramel apples, toasty bonfires and tailgate parties. Apple cocktails are a great way to start the season.
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  1. 1 Quart Apple Cider
  2. 3 Cinnamon Sticks
  3. Knob of Fresh Ginger
  4. 3 Whole Cloves
  5. Pinch of Nutmeg
  6. 1 Firm Red Apple (skin on), cut into small cubes
  7. 1 Firm Green Apple (skin on), cut into small cubes
  8. 2 Lemons juiced
  9. ¼ Cup Granulated Sugar
  10. 1 Bottle of Sparkling Wine
  1. In a medium pot, over medium heat, add the cider, cinnamon sticks, fresh ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Stir to blend.
  2. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Reduce by half and taste for seasoning. Set aside to cool.
  3. In a large bowl, add apples, lemon juice and sugar. Toss to coat and add to the cider.
  4. Pour the cider and apple pieces in champagne flutes, filling them halfway, and top with sparkling wine.
  5. Stir and serve.
Nino Salvaggio https://www.ninosalvaggio.com/

Fall Cider Sangria

Fall Cider Sangria
Serves 4
The football games have already started, and it’s time to think of cider mills, sweet caramel apples, toasty bonfires and tailgate parties. Apple cocktails are a great way to start the season.
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  1. 1 Sliced Apple
  2. 1 Sliced Pear
  3. 1 Sliced Orange
  4. 8 oz. Apple Brandy
  5. 1 750ml bottle of Santa Rita 120 Sauvignon Blanc
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large pitcher.
  2. Chill at least 4 hours.
Nino Salvaggio https://www.ninosalvaggio.com/

Leftovers: Keep Wine Tasting Its Best

Waste not, want not. It’s a good motto, even when it comes to wine. Many of my customers like to partake in just one glass of wine a night, and I often get asked about the best ways to keep wine tasting its best for the longest amount of time. Moreover, once the wine has lost some of its flavor, what are the best ways to repurpose it? Here are some tips and tricks I have learned over the years:

Some handy tools include a Vacu Vin, flip-top stopper, and an argon gas wine preserver. If you don’t have any of these, start by recorking the wine and sticking it in the fridge. This works for both red and white, but you want to let the red come back to room temperature before drinking it. Just like with food, the cold slows the oxidation of the wine. Oxidation from air is what makes wine lose its flavor, so vacuuming it out with the Vacu Vin or replacing it with an inert gas, like argon, is key. Argon is tasteless, odorless and harmless to wine, and since it is chemically heavier than air, once sprayed in, it creates a barrier between the wine and the air.

Leftovers: Keep Wine Tasting Its Best

Fancy decorative stoppers are nice gifts, but a sturdy flip-top stopper is much more practical. With one of these, you can often lay down your bottle for easier storage since it creates a tight seal in the bottle. This, in combination with the argon gas, is the most effective way to keep wine tasting its freshest.

However, what if it’s been a while, and despite your best efforts, the wine has lost much of its flavor? Then what? Before you toss it down the drain, consider cooking with it! Now, I leave the recipes to Chef Pete, but buttered onions simmered in red wine are an excellent accompaniment to a steak. Chicken, wrapped in tinfoil with lemon, white wine, onions and garlic, is also easy and delicious! My best tip is to make wine ice cubes. Simply fill a clean ice cube tray with leftover wine and freeze. You can use the wine cubes in sauces, stews, and soups, but my favorite is to use them in wine-based cocktails, so your drinks don’t get watered down. Sauvignon Blanc ice cubes in your next Greyhound, perhaps?

I hope you use my tips in the New Year! What are some of your favorite ways to use wine? Tweet me at @NinosWineExpert and let me know!


– Jennifer Laurie

Santa’s Helper: Nino’s 2013 Wine Gift Guide

The perfect gift is not hard to find when you have Nino’s on your side!

Villa Jolanda Mini Flavored Moscato Bottles 2 for $10

Villa Jolanda Moscato

Just too cute to pass up, the Villa Jolanda flavored moscatos are a perfect stocking stuffer! The flavors are pineapple, strawberry, coconut, and peach. They are incredibly delicious and perfect with dessert! Buy all four to pick your favorite and save 10% off!

Emblem Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon 2010 $29.99


Buying a bottle of wine for a wine enthusiast can be a difficult task. Does he or she like red or white? Sweet or dry? Old world or new? A true wine aficionado will love anything that is good quality with great pedigree. That’s why you can’t go wrong with Emblem Cabernet Sauvignon. Emblem is produced by The Michael Mondavi Family and is a tribute to the legend of patriarch Robert Mondavi. As layered and rich as the family history, Emblem is a showstopper. The nose expresses forest berry jam, black violets, and black licorice while on the palate there is an abundance of ripe blue and black fruits, baking spice, and a long woodsy finish. A silky mouth feel and elegant tannins make this wine a treasure for any wine lover.

Sandhill Crane Vineyards Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Dessert Wine $28.99

Sandhill Crane Vineyards Chocolate-Covered Raspberry Dessert Wine

This gift is great for multiple reasons. First, you can pat yourself on the back for buying a Michigan-made product. Next, it’s a well-balanced raspberry dessert wine, with all the sweetness and mouth-watering tartness of a fresh-picked berry. Last? The bottle is shrink-wrapped in cellophane and then COVERED IN CHOCOLATE! Delicious, Michigan-made Gilbert dark and white chocolate is drizzled over the bottle. And it is wrapped a second time in cellophane and tied with a pretty burgundy-colored bow. I mean, seriously, this is an awesome gift.

Lock, Stock, and Barrel Rye Whiskey $119.96

Lock Stock & Barrel Rye Whiskey

Extremely limited, the Lock, Stock, and Barrel Rye Whiskey is a one-time creation produced by Rob Cooper of St. Germain Elderflower Liquor fame. He was able to procure farm-sourced rye grain whiskey and aged it for 13 years in charred American oak barrels. What makes this whiskey so special is that it is 100% rye, unlike other whiskeys that contain a blend of corn and rye to smooth out the edges. This makes it more bracing and robust. Cooper leaves it to the 13 years in the barrel to smooth out the edges, creating a complex and flavorful spirit. Having tried the Lock, Stock and Barrel twice now, I can say this whiskey is worth every penny. Toffee, vanilla, roasted coffee, and salted caramel are all present on the nose and palate. Though the ABV is 101.3, the finish is long and spicy without much burn. Whether you are giving it away or gifting yourself, it is my recommendation to drink this with one large ice cube or a splash of water to help it bloom.

I hope my little list of Santa’s Helpers will make your holiday shopping less hectic.


– Jennifer

For more wine, beer, and spirit gift ideas, follow me @NinosWineExpert on Twitter.


Though it’s one of the oldest alcoholic beverages known to man, many people don’t quite know what mead is. The short answer is “honey wine.” However, since mead is made everywhere from China to right here in Ferndale, many different styles and types exist. The more traditional types, like the ones you may have tried at the Renaissance Festival, are sweet, with a hint of earthy quality made only from fermented honey, water and yeast. Two notable styles are pyments, sweetened with wine, or cysers, made with apple cider. Nino’s has always carried an assortment of meads. However, lately, we have been making way for more–due to demand, especially for Michigan-made meads.

If you want to go with a traditional style, Chaucer’s may be the one for you. In the Santa Cruz Mountains, California, Chaucer’s has been making mead and fruit wines since 1964. A combination of sage, cotton-alfalfa, orange flower and mountain wildflower honey gives their mead a unique, nature-driven flavor that lingers beneath the honeyed sweetness. Be sure to try it as a warm, mulled treat, with the complementary spice bag.

A great introductory mead would be Ireland’s Bunratty Meade. Though it is technically a pyment, sweetened with white-wine grapes, it is light, floral, and smooth with a honey liquor finish.

Perhaps you’ve tried these and are looking for something fresh and interesting? Then look no further than Ferndale’s B. Nektar. B. Nektar started in 2008, and when they offered to come to Nino’s to share their new product, we couldn’t get them in the door fast enough! Like good Riesling, B. Nektar mastered the balance between sweetness and acidity while capturing the essence of the flowers that produced the honey. Though B. Nektar has very tasty traditional meads (my favorite being the Orange Blossom), its experimental carbonated series has brought the most acclaim.

It started with Zombie Killer, a cherry cyser. Tart cherry juice is added to the apple cider mead, giving it a pop of flavor. The Zombie Killer is by far our best-selling mead. It’s tart, fruity, fizzy and delicious. You’ll also enjoy the mango black-pepper-flavored Necromangocon and Evil Genius IPA-style mead, both delicious in their own right.

Michigan is in the middle of an inspiring craft beer boom. Mead is riding the wave, and we are all better for it.


Jennifer Laurie

The Right Wines for Cooking

I love to cook with wine because it helps enhance the flavor and aroma of most food. It concentrates the deep flavors of the dish, which is why it is important to match the right dish with the right wine.

Last Sunday, I decided to make Seafood Alfredo, which is one of my favorite dishes. I sauteed the seafood in a little butter and garlic, and then added one tablespoon of rich, buttery Chardonnay. The aroma was magnificent throughout my kitchen. I also added around half a cup to the sauce and had the same wine with the dinner. The wine complemented the dish with its bright, buttery richness, and it cut through the cheese and seafood flavor deliciously.

Here are some of my recommendations for which wines to cook with:

Try to avoid the cooking wines that are usually stocked right by the vinegar in the grocery aisle. These wines are saturated with salt and preservatives. There are plenty of reasonably priced wines in the wine department that will complement your meal perfectly.

For convenience, I like to cook with the wine I drink with the meal, and of course, it’s great to sip on as you stir. If the recipe calls for dry white wine, in my opinion, a good-quality Sauvignon Blanc is perfect. Santa Rita 120, at $7.99, is a great value. It’s described as fresh, fruity and dominated by tropical and citrus fruit. For a more premium Sauvignon Blanc and one of my personal favorites, try Elizabeth Spencer ($17.99). It features honeysuckle and apple with crisp citrus fruit. Both of these wines are a great accompaniment for chicken, shellfish and salads.

If a recipe calls for dry red wine, consider the heartiness of the dish. For maybe a leg of lamb or roast beef, use a full-bodied wine like Santa Rita Cabernet Sauvignon ($7.99), with lots of black fruit, vanilla and spice. You could even use this wine for spicy sauces and cheese soufflés.

When you’re cooking Beef Bourguignon and the recipe calls for Burgundy wine made from the Pinot noir grape, an inexpensive choice would be Salmon Creek Pinot Noir ($5.99), featuring black cherry, strawberry and plum flavors. If you want to take it a notch higher, try Albert Bichot Vieilles Vignes Pinot Noir ($15.99), a true Burgundy from France that adds a mushroom character and gives your dish a mouthwatering flavor.

After working a long day, there is nothing more enjoyable than coming home to the delicious aroma of Chicken Marsala slow cooking in the crock pot. Marsala is a fortified wine made in and around the town that bears its name in Sicily, Italy. It is made with three white grapes: Catarratto, Grillo and Inzolia. When cooking Chicken Marsala, I use Florio Dry Marsala, which also comes in a sweet version, for $12.99. You can use either one, depending on your taste preference. It is also great for sipping.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Happy cooking and enjoy!


Cooking with Wine: Tips to Save You Money

At the risk of not sounding gourmet, there are times when using the best isn’t the best thing to do.

Cooking with wine is one of them.

You see, when wine is heated, the alcoholic content, as well as sulfites, begin to disappear. In some cases, this leaves only the essence of the grape varietals to impart their subtle flavors.

There is usually a reason you pay more for great wines, but it has more to do with careful crafting, aging and the laws of supply and demand. None of this impacts a well-made Beurre Blanc or Coq au Vin.

Buying an expensive wine for cooking, when you don’t benefit from everything that makes it expensive, is like buying a Ferrari for the value of the sheet metal.

What kind of wine SHOULD you buy for cooking?

Keep in mind that, depending on the recipe you are using, what you’re left with after cooking and reducing is the tart flavor of fermented grapes, some sweetness and perhaps some oak.

And that isn’t meant to suggest that wine isn’t that important to the dish; it is. But consider that wine’s role is as a supporting character, not the star. Some wine is NOT sweet but is called fruit (grape) forward, meaning that it has a robust flavor characteristic of its grape type. This type of wine will give you a better bang for your buck than a wine that is cloaked in nuances of flavors you’ll never taste once they’re combined with more overpowering meats, vegetables, spices or dairy products.

Most cooks, if forced to choose only one white wine and one red wine for cooking, would likely choose Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. You can easily find great cooking wines like these in the $10 to $20 range. In my opinion, if you’re spending more than $20 for cooking wine, you’re spending too much (or maybe you just want to brag that you use expensive wines to cook with).

Without getting into specific labels, here are some basics:

  1. Only use wines in your cooking that you’d enjoy drinking. The wine doesn’t magically improve when added to the dish.
  2. Don’t use so-called cooking wines! These wines have salt and other additives that affect the taste of your dish.

Cooking with Wine

Wine can be used in cooking as follows:

  1.  Used raw as a flavorful acid in marinades and dressings. The tannins and acids in wine not only help to break down tough connective tissues but also add a distinctive wine flavor that vinegar just can’t.
  2. Cooked as part of a sauce ingredient. In this case, you’re leaving behind the alcohol that boils off at a lower temperature than water and leaving behind the reduction of grapes.
  3. As a finishing liquid/flavor. In this case, you DO get some of both #1 and #2 because you are not dissipating all of the alcohol and subtleties of the wine. You are adding the wine JUST before finishing the sauce/recipe and then letting it simmer for only a short period of time.

Why use wine in cooking?

Like any flavor, wine has a distinct aroma and taste, which can add interest and complexity to recipes. In this way, it’s no different from Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, lemon juice or any number of other liquid seasonings.

If you like the flavor of wine itself, adding it to certain recipes can be an improvement. But take care not to overdo it. Like any seasoning, too little is a waste of time and too much can ruin an otherwise great recipe. Furthermore, not every dish or sauce can be improved by adding wine.

What can I do with my leftover wine?

Well, I’ll presume you’ve chosen a wine you could enjoy drinking, so hopefully, any remaining wine won’t go to waste. Generally speaking, however, a well-corked wine will last in your fridge for about a week, giving you plenty of time to figure out what to do.

So how much alcohol is left in my wine after cooking?

Keep in mind that when you add wine to a dish, the overall alcohol content of the resulting sauce is already diluted, and if the dish is cooked to the point where the wine reaches a simmer, the alcohol content diminishes some with each passing minute.

The following table of alcohol remaining after food preparation is from the Agricultural Research Services of the USDA (1989):

Wines can have different alcohol percentages from the beginning, so whatever that alcohol content is represents 100% from the moment you open the bottle.

100% Right out of the bottle at the initial opening
85% Bringing to an immediate boil and removing from the heat
75% Flamed
70% Opening, consuming some, and then storing it overnight
40% Dishes that have been baked or simmered 15 minutes
35% After 30 minutes
25% After 1 hour
20% After 1.5 hours
10% After 2 hours
5% After 2.5 hours

Sherry, Port and Vermouth?

These three wines fall under the category of fortified wines, meaning additional alcohol is added. Sherry, Port, Madeira and Marsala are also very sweet.

These wines are used in specialty desserts and classic recipes like Veal Marsala. Their sweetness accentuates the dish. Be careful, however. More is sometimes less.

The Outstanding Flavor of Honig Wines

If you look at a label of any Honig wine, you will find a bee. The honeybee is an insignia of sorts for the Honig family since its name means honey. When people think of honey, many think of sweetness. However, opulent richness comes to mind as well; this is where the wine comes into play. The Honigs only make five wines: two Cabernet Sauvignons, two Sauvignon Blancs, and one deliciously sweet Sauvignon Blanc dessert wine. A couple of weeks back, I had the opportunity to sit down with Michael Honig, taste through his elegant wines, and get a better sense of Michael’s winemaking philosophy.

The Honig story starts with Michael’s grandfather Louis, who left the 68-acre estate to the family when he passed. For years, Louis sold his Cabernet Sauvignon and Sauvignon Blanc grapes to neighboring farmers. He’d always dreamed of making wine, but his busy schedule in the advertising industry never allowed it. Eventually, the family made a Sauvignon Blanc in homage to Louis, and it ended up winning gold in the 1981 Orange County Fair.

With this success, the Honigs knew they had to take advantage of the land Louis had left them. In 1984, Michael, at the young age of 22, took over the winery, and through hard work and perseverance, created wines that are internationally recognized today.

The day Michael stopped by, he had each of his wines with him, and we tasted through them all. I tried the Sauvignon Blanc first; it had notes of lemon peel on the nose, with a touch of gooseberry. I remarked to Michael that I was happy to see that, unlike other California winemakers, they had kept their Sauvignon Blanc fruity and floral, with moderate acidity, instead of trying to imitate the New Zealand style with high acid and tons of grapefruit. He stated that it was their mission to stay true to the style that has given them such great success.

Next, we tried the barrel-aged Rutherford Sauvignon Blanc. This Sauv blanc was at the opposite spectrum from the first. Blended with Muscat and Semillon for body and floral complexity, this is the wine that Michael says his wine team has the most fun experimenting with. The nose had lemon and orange with white flower, and the mouth-feel was creamy due to six months of aging on the lees (dead yeast cells that add richness to wine). The oak was present but not overpowering.

Their Cabernet Sauvignon is classic Napa Valley: pepper, sage and cassis on the nose; blackberry, black cherry and plum on the midpalate; and vanilla, licorice and baking spice on the finish due to 18 months of oak aging. Wine Spectator just gave it 92 points, making it a steal for under $40!

I was so excited to try the 2007 Bartolucci Cabernet Sauvignon. 2007 was an amazing vintage in Napa Valley, and when Michael said they had a few cases left, I snatched one up! After trying it, I could see why Wine Spectator gave this cab 93 points. Boasting more depth and complexity than the Napa cab, the Bartolucci expresses dried herbs with black fruits on the nose; silky integrated tannins, with black currant, cherry, and a long cedar finish; and terrific acidity that leaves you wanting more. This is a must have for anyone’s cellar.

Finally, dessert! If your name means honey, you’d better get your dessert wine right. They sure did. It has white flowers and stone fruits on the nose, with layers of honey, dried apricots and minerality on the palate. Mouthwatering acidity creates a perfect balance on the finish.

Michael and his family are immersed in the culture of Napa Valley winemaking and furthering green practices for vineyards. They give back to the land that has made their name world renowned. I love these wines and hope you will too.


Jennifer Laurie

A Study in Wine – Riesling

Today I wanted to focus on a gravely misrepresented grape; Riesling. Riesling is one of the worlds greatest white wines and often gets pushed aside as a beginner grape, or just for the ladies. Well, hopefully this blog will open your eyes to how diverse and expressive Riesling really can be!

What is it?

Riesling – A cold climate white wine grape who’s name’s origin is a little foggy but most believe comes from the German word Russ meaning dark wood. Riesling vines are dark and strong, and for many years the grape was called Ruessling, so this makes sense.

Where does it grow?

The very best Rieslings come from their homeland of Germany. Rieslings first account of being bought was in 1435 in the town of Ruesselsheim, Germany. Plantings of the grape are speculated to date back to 1232 in Austria, however, there is no clear documentation. Riesling grows all over Germany, most notable in the Mosel, Rheingau, Rheinhessen, Pfalz, and Nahe. Many people get Riesling confused with Piesporter. Piesporter is a town in the Mosel where many good quality Rieslings are made however, if a label simply states Piesporter, or Piesporter Michelsberg, it means that this wine is a blend of many white wine grapes from the area. Each of these regions have a unique style to their Riesling, some are more slate and mineral driven, where as some are more full and fruity.

Besides Germany, Riesling grows all over the world. In Australia, look for Rieslings from the Clare or Eden Valley. Classically, these Riesling are some of the driest world round. In France, Alsace is the only region allowed by law to produce Riesling. Their Rieslings tend to be dry, clean and elegant. Austria, though better known for Gruner Veltleiner, also produces many good quality Rieslings.

In North America, the states that are most focused on Riesling are Washington, New York, Oregon and Michigan. Washington’s Rieslings are a normally quite affordable and very good; Chateau St. Michele is the top producer of Riesling world wide. The Riesling grape, with its strong and frost resistant vines, grow very well in these northern states, producing fruity, fun wines. Chateau Grand Traverse and Black Star Farms are some of the main vineyards in Michigan that are really showing the world what terrific wines we can make.

What does it taste like?

Dry Riesling tastes of apple blossom, lemon, and lime, whereas the sweeter Rieslings lean toward peach, honeysuckle, and apricot. They take on the character of their surroundings, so many will taste of slate or wet stone, which are commonly found in Germany. Rieslings have wonderful aging potential and the older they get the more honeyed and spiced they taste.

What do I pair it with?

The saying goes: drink wine with what is found where it’s grown. Fresh ceviche with Spanish Albarino, Argentine Malbec with beef, Champagne with Brie; and though the racy acidity of German Riesling does go with the rich foods of Germany, Asian cuisine is always a terrific pairing. Spicy foods are cooled by the sweetness of Riesling and the drier wines create perfect balance with light and delicate sushi. It is so versatile that it is a great pick for elaborate meals like Thanksgiving. Riesling cleanses and refreshes the palate after a bite of gravy soaked turkey or creamy green bean casserole.

Cheeses that pair nice are generally creamy and smooth in texture with nutty or floral notes, like Raclette, Gouda, and Gruyere. I could go on and on about food pairing with the different levels of sweetness of Riesling, like, Beerenauslese and Icewine, but I think I will leave that for another blog.

What are your favorites?

Jacob’s Creek Dry Riesling, South Eastern Australia 2011 $6.99 –
Notes of grapefruit candy and lime on the nose, this extreme value is refreshing, clean, and makes an amazing turkey brine!

Chateau Chantal Late Harvest Riesling, Michigan 2011 $16.99 –
Honeysuckle, apricot, pear and peach are all prevalent through out this delicious sipper. Terrific with spicy Asian cuisine or on its own, this one is definitely sweeter but still balanced with acidity.

Schloss Reinhartshausen Erbach Rheingau Riesling 2009 Hohenrain – Old Vines $18.99 –
Peach and lime zest on the nose with white peach and apricot on the palate, this Riesling does an outstanding job of balancing sweetness and acidity. This is by far my favorite, it is complex, mouthwatering, and delicious.

Throughout my career I have noticed many trends. Merlot is a gateway to Cabernet Sauvignon, Moscato is the new White Zin, and wine lovers drink Riesling at the beginning of their wine journey, and always come back to it after they have acquired the knowledge and respect for an this outstanding grape. I hope my blog has given you the extra nudge you needed to try Riesling again.


– Jennifer Laurie

Turkey Day Wines

No matter who’s coming to dinner, you want your Thanksgiving feast to be a success. In case you haven’t noticed, Nino’s does too. Chef Pete has been writing up a storm of terrific turkey time ideas over on his blog. Now it’s my turn to put your wine needs at ease. I tend to believe if you like it, drink it. However, when it comes to the traditional Thanksgiving fare, there are certain flavor profiles that marry better than others.

Over the last couple of years, wine writers have hit us over the head with Gewürztraminer and Provincial Rosé for the grand meal. I do believe these work. However, if you love red wines, I won’t argue that you must refrain! I may try my hardest to pull the bottle of bold, rich, tannic, Cabernet Sauvignon out of your hands and replace it with a more elegant and fruity Pinot Noir, but this is beside the point. The point is that you don’t want your wine to overshadow the food. Turkey, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and stuffing: these are the main characters of our show–lots of flavors but none too extreme.

Overall, the main component we must battle is the weight of the meal. There are going to be many creamy, rich textures at the table, and the lone palate cleanser is the cranberry sauce, and even that can lend toward the sweet side. This is where the wine comes in to cleanse and invigorate your palate, and acidity is key. Riesling, Pinot Noir and dry Rose all have exciting fresh-fruit qualities, with medium-to-high acid. Acidity is what gives wine balance. The sweeter the wine, most likely the lower the acidity, and many of the new red blends have lower acidity, which is fine for drinking on their own, but not for this.

So keeping balance in mind, along with pleasing your guests, here are my wine picks for the perfect Thanksgiving meal:

Roederer Anderson Valley, California Brut NV $21.99 –

Many of you know I love bubbles, and Thanksgiving is a terrific time to drink them. The Roederer Anderson Valley is one of my all-time favorites because it is lively, crisp, and refreshing, with notes of baked apple, cinnamon, and hazelnut. Not only does it pair with the festive fall smells, but the acidity also cuts through the creamier dishes.

Montinore Estate Borealis “The Northern Whites” White Table Wine, Willamette Valley, Oregon 2011 $12.99 –

I found this little gem when I attended Oregon Pinot Camp this summer. I must have tried over 600 wines there, and this one really stuck with me. A blend of Riesling, Muller-Thurgau, Pinot Gris, and Gewurztraminer, it has generous floral complexity with peach and golden delicious apple rounding out the flavor. Lime and grapefruit are prevalent on the clean, citrusy finish.

Chamisal Vineyards Stainless Chardonnay, Central Coast, California 2011 $14.99 –

Chardonnay is incredibly versatile. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend a buttery or oaky chardonnay. Instead, I recommend a light, crisp, un-oaked one like this. Chamisal focuses on the purity of Chardonnay and the tropical fruit flavors like pineapple and lime that are sometimes masked by oak.

Altes Herencia Garnatxa Negra Terra Alta, Spain 2011 $9.99 –

Cranberry in color, with bright and lively red fruits, this “black Grenache” from a sub-region of Catalunya, has soft tannins and complex minerality. It just received 91 points from Robert Parker and is a steal at $9.99.

Owen Roe Abbot’s Table Red Blend, Columbia Valley, Washington 2010 $27.99 –

The folklore goes that if you knock on any monastery door and ask for a meal, the monks will gladly let you in and feed you. Winemaker David O’Reilly believes he has made a wine for any occasion. The blend changes every year, but I think the 2010 is terrific for Thanksgiving dinner. 48% Sangiovese, 15% Blaufränkisch, 14% Zinfandel, 14% Malbec, 7% Syrah, and 2% Merlot create a light- to medium-bodied wine with notes of black flowers, juicy plum, red and black currants, and tobacco and spice on the finish. This wine was made to be enjoyed around a big table, telling stories and enjoying life.

Though Riesling and Pinot Noir are tried-and-true wines that pair terrifically with Thanksgiving dinner, we have laid out a few wines with incredible balance and acidity that will pair just as well. So whether you go with your old favorite, or branch out to something new, the Nino’s wine team is here to answer any of your toughest Thanksgiving wine questions.

– Jennifer Laurie