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Still Searching for that Special Dimension to Traditional Thanksgiving Dinner?



November 6, 2008

Austrian Wines Provide a Panoply of Flavors.  

Thanksgiving just wouldn't be Thanksgiving without some of the mainstay dishes that symbolize the day itself: turkey, giblet stuffing and gravy, cranberries and sweet potatoes, to name a few. But, while their flavors are inimitable, these foods are not necessarily easy to accommodate when it comes to finding their ideal matching wines -- especially when served altogether at the same meal.

The unique, hand-crafted wines of Austria, however, not only snuggle up to these Turkey Day delights, but they actually enhance them through a seductive play of tones and textures that let a traditional meal be a traditional meal and, at the same time, give it a whole new twist.

Austria's indigenous varietals, such as Grüner Veltliner, Blaufränkisch, Zweigelt and St. Laurent, yield particular taste bud excitement, yet the international varietal wines, like Riesling, Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc, prove no less distinctive, thanks to the uniqueness of the climate and terroir in which each is honed.
Still, as the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding. And when it comes to Thanksgiving, it's in every other course as well!

With soups or light appetizers -- which could include, for example, light fish, cheeses or warm pastry - a fine accompaniment could be a "Classic" Grüner Veltliner, such as the peppery Weinviertel DAC or the racy, mineral-etched Wachau Federspiel. With their light body and moderate alcohol, fresh and crispy fruit flavours, as well as having no trace of oak aging, these dry wines do an excellent job of whetting the appetite for what's to come.

Which is the main course.

Turkey, with its white and dark meat, can be romanced by white or red wines -- even when the turkey is kept company by mashed potatoes, cranberries and a bevy of vegetables. The point is to get the right matching flavors. Grüner Veltliner or Riesling at Reserve level, such as those from the Wachau area -- full-bodied, minerally Smaragd, for example -- or even Reserves from the Kremstal or Traisental DAC areas, can work exceedingly well. As the grapes for these wines are harvested later in the season, the wines? fruit flavors are deep, smooth and firmly hugged with mineral tones. And with acidity that is usually so balanced, these wines can temper even mouth-puckering cranberries while being neutral enough for mashed potatoes.

Cranberries can give a strong hint at which red wines to choose.
Especially those wines exuding cranberry notes themselves -- like Blaufränkisch Mittelburgenland DAC, or other medium-bodied examples, such as those from Carnuntum, Südburgenland, or the Neusiedlersee-Hügelland area of northern Burgenland. Not only does Blaufränkisch show off clear, clean fruitiness (tones of cherry, raspberry as well as cranberry), but it also can harbor a peppery herbal-spice zip - ideal for herb-laced turkey stuffings - that is carried along by a youthful expression of acidity. Zweigelt, in lighter-style versions from the Weinviertel, Kamptal and Wagram areas, can show young, easy-going fruitiness that won't clash with the cranberries while complementing the soft meat flavors. For elegance and smoothness, youthful St. Laurent can be perfection. Versions from the Thermenregion and northern Burgenland, for example, give off perky notes of, say, fresh raspberry or lingonberry, with a soft touch of citrus underneath -- and are rounded by vibrant acidity.

Thanksgiving desserts and Austrian sweet wines seem to be made for each other. Whether with pumpkin pie or baked sweet potatoes with raisin sauce dribbled over them, luscious sweet wines from around the Neusiedlersee, or Lake Neusiedl, are heavenly matches. In styles from Beerenauslese (BA) and Trockenbeerenauslese (TBA) to Ruster Ausbruch and Eiswein, these sweet wines are made from an array of grape varieties -- Welschriesling, Scheurebe, Grüner Veltliner, Sauvignon Blanc and Muskat Ottonel to name a few -- which are excellent for producing a harmonious balance of fruit, sugar and acidity. Moreover, they can boast flavors such as cinnamon, raisin, nutmeg and ginger, which fall right into line with those of classic Thanksgiving desserts.

Austrian sweet wines also fit perfectly to an assortment of fruits and cheeses -- a combination that serves as a wonderful taste-bud finale to a fabulous feast.

Press information, November 2008
AWMB, Susanne Staggl
Tel.: +43 1 503 92 67
Fax: +43 1 503 92 68