Thanksgiving has long been one of my favorite holidays. A time to share food, wine and festivities in the company of friends, family and loved ones. Working in the wine trade, though, Thanksgiving is also one of the busiest, most frenetic times of year. Christmas may surpass it as the holiday for which the most wine is sold but no holiday, not even Xmas, drives a single, repetitive mission with such ferocity: "What should I drink with Thanksgiving?" There's not even a need to mention the food, the tradition is such a given.
After days and days of answering the same question over and over again, there are nights when the last thing I want to do is have to think about what I'll drink myself. Or what I'll cook for that matter. I just want comfort. The comfort of familiar surroundings, a simple meal and a wine that I know so well that drinking it is like getting together with an old friend. Funny thing is, what I reached for on just such an evening earlier this week was a wine I'd been recommending all week long for the TG feast. But I wasn't about to cook turkey.
So, without further ado, here's what to drink with Thanksgiving... if you're having pork chops.
Nahe Riesling "Lenz," Emrich-Schönleber 2008
$24. 11.5% alcohol. Cork. Importer: Petit Pois, Moorestown, NJ.
"Lenz" is an archaic German word for the season of spring. Though not labeled as such, it is Werner and Frank Schönleber's halbtrocken offering, a bottling that's replaced several different pradikat and vineyard designated halbtrocken bottlings they had produced before simplifying and reconceptualizing their portfolio along VDP lines a few years back. It's what Lars Carlberg of Mosel Wine Merchant might call a "dry tasting Riesling," a wine that contains a measurable element of residual sugar but finishes with a completely dry sensation, driven home by mouthwatering acidity and an intense dose of minerality.
The 2008 is punchier and seems drier than did the 2007. It's nervous as a tightrope walker in training. Schönleber's wines, even the theoretically simple ones like this, can take years to really show their stuff. They're delicious when young, so much so that it can be hard not to drink the whole bottle. I always get the distinct feeling when drinking them this young, though, that I'm only seeing part of the picture; yet that part carries a distinct imprint of the whole. Like seeing a young girl who's cute in a gangly way today but you just know will be dangerous in a few years. Or like admiring an orchid in partial bloom.
I'm not sure I can really improve on the producer's own cleverly concise tasting note: "Vineyard peach, animating acidity, 'Spring fever' in the mouth."
It was great with pork chops. Salt, pepper, a light rub of olive oil and a quick turn on the grill. A buttered baked potato and a simple salad. Couldn't get much simpler, I don't think, or more comforting. But yeah, it'll work just fine with turkey, too.