Give thanks for great wine

November 27, 2013 

As a child, there was something special about going to Grandma's house on Thanksgiving. I loved how all those wonderful aromas from the various foods being cooked would slowly waft past my nose as I walked through her front door.

Although we don't always take the time to cook a meal from scratch like Grandma did, one way to fill your house with the holiday scent of spices such as nutmeg, cloves, vanilla, and cardamom is to prepare a warm batch of mulled Robert Mondavi Woodbridge Pinot Noir. Then all you have to do is follow Molly Sims' lead and serve your guest a cup of the mulled wine, garnished with a twist of orange peel and a cinnamon stick as he or she walks through the door.

Although Thanksgiving was traditionally a festival that paid homage to the harvest, today we celebrate it as a holiday feast with family and friends. Molly Sims is an actress and model who grew up in the South but today resides in Los Angeles, she developed so-called "Friendsgiving Tips" that work well on or around the traditional Thanksgiving holiday for her friends and family.

Thanksgiving dinner is one of the more difficult meals to pair with wines because of the wide variety of flavors that many of us use in our traditional family dishes. One decision to make is whether to try and serve one wine versatile enough to handle every single item on the table or to serve a couple of different wines that complement the various side dishes -- especially since roasted turkey pairs well with several different varietals.

The Woodbridge wines produced by the Robert Mondavi Winery are value minded, retailing in the $8 price range and go well with Molly Sim's Friendsgiving Tips. Mondavi founded the Woodbridge Winery with the concept that he could produce an affordable everyday wine for the average consumer and located Woodbridge in Lodi, Calif.

What is Thanksgiving without sweet potatoes? Molly's twist is a Sweet Potato Coconut Pecan Casserole that pairs well with the 2012 Woodbridge Chardonnay. Since only a small amount of the Chardonnay undergoes malolactic fermentation, this wine contains the aroma of fresh tropical fruits with a toasty finish that really complements the mix of sweet potatoes, orange juice, light brown sugar, ginger, coconut and pecans that make up this casserole.

While pumpkin pie is a staple in most households, Molly Sim's Pumpkin Spice Brownies have a decadent blend of cocoa, chocolate chips and pumpkin that is the perfect after-dinner match for the 2012 Woodbridge Cabernet Sauvignon. Imagine a bite of one of these brownies that is spiced with hazelnuts, cinnamon, and nutmeg alongside the aroma of dried cherries on the nose of this 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by the wine's fresh blackberry flavors. You can get Sim's recipes and more advice at www.mollysims.com/blog/post/the-secrets-recipes-to-my-friendsgiving-celebrations.

Regardless of what wines you serve with your Thanksgiving dinner, nothing is more enjoyable than to raise a nice glass of wine and give thanks for the ability to share this meal with those that mean the most.

Jim Rawe, a family attorney in Bradenton, is an avid collector of fine wines. He can be reached at jimrawe@gmail.com.

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