To most, the tastes of the holiday season are just as important as the sights and the sounds.
Those tastes are certainly enjoyed most when properly paired with a wine that enhances the palate.
The Tulsa Business Journal asked three local experts — a master sommelier, the wine expert at Utica Square steakhouse Fleming’s and the manager of wine-savvy bottle shop Ranch Acres — to give us some of their locally available picks for the holidays.
The Master Sommelier
Randa Warren is Tulsa’s master sommelier, one of only 17 women and 176 total in the world.
She is a Certified Wine Educator, a Certified Specialist of Spirits and holds her Diploma Wine and Spirits.
She makes her picks here:
With the Thanksgiving meal, I like white Gewürztraminer, as it has weight with medium acid and spicy, floral, honeysuckle flavors that blend easily with assorted foods like turkey, ham, pork, fish, salmon.
A nice find for an off-dry Gewurz is Helfrich from Alsace ($12.99). Firestone is a nice one from California.
I also like Viognier white for the beautiful peach and apricot flavors it has but also medium acid that lends more weight to the wine. Gewurz and Viognier are terrific with cheese plates, too. Copain from California is a good choice closer to $22.49.
If turkey is smoked, you could opt for a nice oak-driven Chardonnay like Far Niente ($58.99).
As for reds for holiday meals my fav is Pinot Noir. I like the “new to our market” 32 Winds owned by Ed Mascarin of Tulsa and made by Turley winemaker Ehren Jordan. Also, Failla ($37.99) is a nice Pinot, as is Bergstrom or Raptor Ridge.
Beaujolais (Gamay grape) is popular for the holidays since the Beaujolais Nouveau comes out the third Thursday of November. It is light and fruity. I prefer the Cru Beaujolais like Drouhin’s Moulin-a Vent or Fleurie or Morgan over the Nouveau Beaujolais.
A different twist might be a lovely Italian Sangiovese blend by Antinori called Villa Toscana ($24). Sangio has lots of acidity to cut through the richness of the holiday meals.
Lot’s of folks have beef tenderloin and that calls for Cabernet Sauvignon. Big food, big wine. For high end choices, try Silver Oak Alexander Valley ($77.99), Far Niente ($110.99) or Stag’s Leap Cask 23.
Champagne goes with every holiday meal — some before the meal and some with the meal. My fav for the price now is Duval Leroy French Champagne or the Piper-Heidsieck. Guy Larmandier Grand Cru Cramant for $65 is delightful and all Chardonnay. For a rosé Champagne that can carry a beef entrée, Gosset Rose French Champagne ($71.49) is a killer.
A fun rosé that is great at the holiday table or as aperitif is Guiot Rosé from Costieres de Nimes.
Surprise Buys: For whites with a different twist for the holidays, try Albarino from Spain or Gruner Veltliner from Austria. You can’t beat dry Riesling from Alsace, France (Trimbach) or the Clare Valley, Australia (Reilly’s Barking Mad) or dry or off-dry Riesling from Germany — Jos Jos Prum.
Surprise Reds: Vinum Petite Sirah is a monster red with black fruit and high tannin for heavy meats. Red Guitar Spanish blend Garnacha Caringena is fun as is.
For pumpkin pie, try St. Supery Moscato ($17.89), tawny port like Sandeman’s basic level, the Osborne sweet sherry for $8, or an Auslese German Riesling or a Malmsey Madeira.
My advice: take your blinders off and try some different wines for this holiday season. ABC – anything but Chardonnay. Try some of the wines I’ve mentioned and branch out a little. But most importantly, enjoy!”
The Bottle Shop
Clark Lipotich, manager of Ranch Acres Wine & Spirits, 3324A E. 31st St., drew on his knowledge and that of his “crack team of wine experts” for suggestions.
For the traditional Thanksgiving, he suggested 2007 Melville Estate Pinot Noir ($35.99). “This is a new, beautiful pinot,” he said.
Lipotich said his family always enjoys scalloped oysters for Thanksgiving, and the perfect accompaniment is 2007 Champalou Vouvray ($20.99). “This is 100 percent Chenin Blanc from the Noire Valley in France.”
When in doubt, open champagne.
“A good sparkler can go with just about everything,” he said. “It can start the meal as a wonderful apertif and goes great with cheese plates.”
The staff choice is Gosset Champagne Brut ($47.99) and Brut Rose ($71.49).
Nothing goes better with leftovers than a rosé, he said.
“Rosé is a very misunderstood wine,” he said. “I want to help people realize that a dry rosé is a great thing.”
His perfect choice with a turkey sandwich is the 2009 Les Domaniers de Puits Mouret Rose ($20.99), produced by Domain Ott.
Ranch Acres will have two selections of Beaujolais Nouveaus, the Duboeuf and Laboure Roi, both at $10.99. They should be served with a slight chill.
A dessert wine that goes well with fruit desserts, like pies and tarts, is the 2007 Guasti Clemente Moscato D’asti ($13.99). “This one has a little spritz to it — a little effervescence that gives it a clean taste,” Lipotich said.
For beer lovers, Lipotich suggested seasonal offerings: Anchor Brewing’s “Special Ale” ($10.29 per six-pack), Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale ($8.39 a six) and Boulevard’s The Nutcracker Ale ($8.69 a six pack).
The Steakhouse Expert
Joe Breaux, certified sommelier at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar in Utica Square, manages the wine, beer and liquor at the restaurant, which features 100 wines by the glass with another 100 wines available by the bottle.
You can apply Breaux’s choices to your own holiday meals and parties as well as the restaurant environment.
“Bubbles are a great way to start any meal. A recent addition to our sparklers is the Spanish Cava Segura-Viudas, Brut Aria Estate at $9 per glass. The only thing more festive than bubbles are pink bubbles and the French Champagne Veuve Clicquot, Brut Rosé at $134 per bottle is a festive pairing to any dish.
A couple of my favorite appetizers are spicy like the Wicked Cajun BBQ Shrimp and the Ahi Tuna with spicy mustard sauce. A nice choice with these would be the German Riesling Zilliken, Butterfly at $15 per glass or the Parducci, Sustainable White from California for $8 per glass.
On to the main course: Aged, corn-fed USDA Prime Beef broiled at 1,600 degrees is a big, bold dish requiring big, bold wines. If you opt for the filet mignon, your choice in wine could vary from Pinot to Merlot to a lean and tender Cabernet. I really like the Hartford Court, Land’s Edge Pinot from Sonoma at $18.50 per glass. The Pretty Sally, Cabernet-Shiraz for $11.50 per glass is a great choice here as well. If you opt for the Prime Bone-In Ribeye, then you’ll want a wine that’s bigger. The Vi?a Cobos, Felino Cabernet is an Argentinian product of renowned winemaker Paul Hobbs and has just recently been introduced to the Tulsa market. At $56 per bottle it drinks better than many wines at twice the price. If you’re looking for something a little more special try the storied Silver Oak, Napa Valley Cabernet. It is the higher end bottling from Silver Oak but until the end of the year you can get it at Fleming’s for $125 per bottle.
Sometimes we find a wine that we want to drink and then plan our meal to pair with it. I thought I would mention a couple of wines that deserve to be in the driver’s seat. The Melis, Priorat Spain, 2005 for $225 per bottle is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Carignane, and Cabernet, beautiful and elegant, dark in color and bold in flavor with a silky texture. I would drink the Melis with anything, but I would recommend the Australian Lamb Chops with Sauteed Mushrooms. I would also recommend the Martin Estate, Collector’s Reserve, 2004 Cabernet for $255 per bottle. This is what great Napa Cabernets are all about and would pair excellently with the Prime New York Strip.