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With all of the devastation New Jersey and the surrounding areas have experienced in recent weeks, it surely will be a special comfort when family and friends gather this year for Thanksgiving.
Usually, I start thinking about which wines to serve on Thanksgiving at the end of October. This year I had other things on my mind, such as electricity, heat and gasoline — and I am fortunate to have only had these temporary inconveniences. Now that power is restored and gas rationing has stopped, it’s time to turn my attention (at least in part) back to wine.
Since Thanksgiving is a truly American holiday, I like to serve wine made in the USA. Typically, I’ll opt for Pinot Noirs from Oregon, Zinfandels from California and a white or rosé, most likely from California. This year I’m going to bring it a little closer to home and support our local wineries, too. In the past, New Jersey wineries could not ship wine, even within our own state. Thankfully, that restriction was lifted this year.
New Jersey wineries make a wide variety of wines. If you are serving white wine, a Riesling is an excellent choice. Its typical tastes of peach, floral and citrus match well with turkey, spiced foods and side dishes such as sweet potatoes. A spicy red wine, such as Syrah with its bold black fruit flavor, will compliment dark meat and spiced side dishes as well.
Here are a few award-winning New Jersey wines to consider:
Heritage Estate Reserve BDX 2010, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Petit Verdot, placed third this summer in the Judgment of Princeton competition against comparable French wines.
Alba Vineyard, Riesling 2010 is an off-dry wine that was a gold-medal winner in the San Diego 2012 International Wine Competition.
Pladigo’s Winery Cranberry Wine won a double gold Best in Class at the 2011 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition.
A 25-year veteran of the wine and hospitality industry, George Staikos is known for his role as an educator, sharing his passion for wine appreciation. He is the founder and president of the Educated Grape, a company specializing in interactive education programs and in-home wine entertaining for wine enthusiasts and companies. He is a professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University’s International School of Hospitality Management, where he teaches “Introduction to the Study of Wine.” He is also Vice Echanson or regional wine director for the mid-Atlantic region for the Chaine des Rotisseurs, a worldwide food-and-wine organization.
Staikos is a graduate of Florida International University in Miami with a Bachelor’s degree in Hospitality Management. He is married with three children and lives in Flemington.