'm always asked what wine I'd bring to a desert island and I always answer the same way: Madeira. It might even be my death row wine.
Madeira is one of the greatest wines in the world and rarely gets any respect. Most think (wrongly) that Madeira is a very sweet wine. Even the sweetest versions have really high acidity so they come off less sweet than other fortified wines.
It's an extremely opportune time to pay homage to my desert island wine because of its ties to the 4th of July. Thomas Jefferson (a serious oenophile) was a huge fan and the founding fathers toasted with a bottle after they signed a little thing called The Declaration of Indepedence back in 1776.
One night last fall at a wine dinner at Chez Panisse, Alice Waters got up to address the dining room and made a surprising confession. “Shame on me,” she said, “for paying so little attention to California wine. I had no idea what was going on underneath my nose all this time. And to think that it was through my daughter, Fannie, that I discovered something so important around me.”
It's happened too many times to remember, and the disappointment is always piercing, but you learn to move on. A bottle of wine--a special one, maybe it's very old, maybe you carried it back in your suitcase from France, maybe it's very expensive. You save it for a special occasion. You dust it off and present it to your guests. You remove the foil, savoring every moment of the process, licking your lips in anticipation. And then you pop the cork and get a whiff. Damn, it's corked. Nothing you can do about it. Have to move on.
The traditional Thanksgiving meal isn't normally on the menu year-round at most homes, and picking wine to match a turkey dinner and all the trimmings can be a challenge. We spoke to employees at three local wine shops to get their opinions on wines that would pair beautifully with the holiday spread. Their picks span the globe, but all three agree: avoid wines that are heavy, rich, or tannic, and look for clean flavors and acidity to cut the heaviness of the meal.
Michael Barber, Domestic Wine Specialist, K&L Wines:
The label is called Fledgling and the wines are a Pinot and a Chardonnay. The partner in the project is Crushpad, SF's public, urban winery, where the wine is obviously going to be made. Of the $20 cost ($240 a case), $5 per bottle goes to the charity aimed at improving education in the developing world.
The first chill of fall finally touched us the other day: the air tightens, and the breeze hits your cheek, letting you know, this is as warm as it's going to get today.
When it comes to wine, people will say that, now that there's a chill in the air, the season of blowsy summer whites and rosés is over. I say, in a gutteral Vin-Diesel-esque growl, "It ain't over until I say it's over." And, with that, I put on a sweater and crack yet another bottle of pink wine and pour it into another tumbler.