A Danubian Thanksgiving

Danubian ThanksgivingIn preparation for this year’s holiday we have shared our favorite wines sourced from along the Danube river to enhance your celebrations. All of these wines are distinct in their own way but sure to pair beautifully with everything on your holiday table

Eugenie CabotI first learned of the significance of cranberry sauce to the Thanksgiving table while skating on frozen cranberry bogs in Massachusetts with my then young children. I’ve since traded the bogs for the backyard orange trees of California. The best cranberry sauce is a simple and quick relish made with fresh cranberries, freshly-squeezed orange juice, peels, and sugar. No wonder the orange Kabaj Rebula wine from Slovenia pairs so well with that dish! Falling somewhere between a white and red, the wine has intense tannins contrasting with a funky, spicy orange-blossom aroma. It has excellent minerality, and a very enjoyable rich long finish. No need to switch to red for me. This wine is a perfect match for the Thanksgiving table for the recognized 100 Top Winery of 2015!” — Eugénie Cabot

Eric DanchIn the interest of eating and drinking for as long as possible on Thanksgiving, Cviček (Tsvee-check) is a promising option. Apart from Tuscan Chianti, Cviček is the only wine in the world with a legally protected blend of local red and white grapes. What sets it apart is the low alcohol (8.5-10%) and it’s completely dry. It’s also refreshing, has the weight of a white wine, the texture of a red, and great acidity. If you already have grapes like Pinot Noir and Sauvignon Blanc on the roster, this is a perfect “tweener” wine for everyone (and a liter!). One of the main grapes in the blend is Žametna which also happens to be same grape as the oldest living vine in Europe. At just over 400 years old, this puts its first harvest right around 1621 when the first Thanksgiving took place. And much like the Pilgrims and Indians introduced one another to new flavors, Cviček seems like an appropriate wine to continue this tradition with your friends and family. — Eric Danch

Gisele CarigBlaufränkisch is a perfect varietal for Thanksgiving: it produces red wines that are fresh and juicy. This one from J. Heinrich in Austria’s Burgenland region is uncomplicated yet bright with characteristic spiciness. The wine is an outstanding value as recently noted by Wine Enthusiast Magazine, where it is listed as one of the “Top 100 Best Buys 2015”. The dish I absolutely have to make for Thanksgiving is stuffing, so that is what I recommend to pair with this wine. When it comes to stuffing, I am a purist. I don’t really do much to it. My “recipe” is a loaf of whatever type of bread strikes my fancy, turkey broth, vegetables, fresh herbs, and a ridiculous amount of butter. Since the wine is bright, fruit-forward, and medium-bodied, it has the winning profile for my weighty dish. — Gisele Carig

Frank DietrichThis Plavac Mali wine made by Frano Miloš and his children is my first choice for Thanksgiving. It comes from the Pelješac Peninsula that connects with the Dalmatian mainland less than 50 miles north of Dubrovnik. It is where the Miloš family tends their organic vineyards. The main reason that Miloš Plavac fits so well on our Thanksgiving dinner table is its versatility. Naturally, Plavac pairs well with BBQ meats of all kinds. More surprisingly is that it also works very well with Turkey, Chicken, and even more gamey fowl. Most visitors to Dalmatia are amazed when they experience that Plavac also is a great match for Oysters regardless of how they are prepared: fresh on the shell with just a touch of lemon juice, or baked with bacon, hot sauce, and other flavorful condiments. Plavac also reminds us that there is an immigrant in every American. Keep in mind that Zinfandel is a direct relative of Plavac Mali and came originally from the Dalmatian coast to California. — Frank Dietrich

Catherine GrangerWe are lucky to have among our friends a wonderful cook and it is a feast when we spend Thanksgiving with her. One of my favorite Thanksgiving dish is her gravy. The base of the gravy is a turkey stock that she prepares a few days in advance with roasted turkey wings and necks and vegetables. The broth is then slowly reduced to enhance the flavors. Spoon the gravy in the well of a mashed potato mound and you’re in heaven! The flavors are rich and savory, just like the Plantaže Vranac Procorde. Vranac, a relative of the Zinfandel family of grapes, originates from Montenegro and the nearby Republic of Macedonia. Deeply colored, it develops with age savory and unctuous aromas combined with vivid acidity. The winery’s reserve wine is the richly textured ProCorde, which means “heart healthy”. I shall add “heart happy”. Santé! — Catherine Granger

Zsuzsa MolnarAs a Hungarian I am interested in exploring Hungarian wines for the holidays. Tokaj is a fabled Hungarian region that has been producing legendary wines for centuries. I was thinking of something to go with the pumpkin pie that we love to end Thanksgiving dinner with. Pallas of Athens is the patron saint of knowledge and Füleky Winery named their smart and clever Late Harvest style sweet wine after the goddess. It’s made from overripe shriveled grapes creating a sweet but well balanced with acid wine. Hints of butterscotch and ripe fruit. Long finish of residual sweetness. The Russian Czars deployed a division of Cossacks each year to accompany their Imperial shipment of Tokaj back to the Imperial Cellars. Luckily we don’t have to send the troops out to enjoy the Pallas Late Harvest Furmint. — Zsuzsa Molnar

Purchase our Thanksgiving 6-Pack for only $99 to try all our recommendations. Sign up for Club Vino Danubia, and you will feel thankful to receive free shipping on your order!