Meet Elsa Macdonald, the Director of Wine Education at Constellation Academy of Wine. She's our go-to expert for everything wine, and throughout the coming year, she will help us demystify, debunk and understand a little more about the noble grape—in laymen's terms! Elsa is a certified sommelier, past president of the Canadian Association of professional Sommeliers (Ontario), and is a WSET-certified instructor. But more importantly, she knows how to keep it real and strip away the pretensions of buying, tasting and ultimately enjoying wine. Cheers to that!
This month Elsa weighs in with great wine pairings for roast turkey and clears the air about decanting. Have a question for Elsa? Send it to email@example.com.
What type of wine should I serve with roast turkey?
No. 1 rule? Don't be ruled by rules! Most wines go with most foods. Think of wine as another ingredient to the meal and look for things that complement each other in both flavour and texture.
Red Wine: Try Pinot Noir
Inniskillin Montague Vineyard, Pinot Noir 2013
- From cool climate Four Mile Creek in the Niagara Peninsula, the fruits are fresh in style (strawberry and red currant)
- Elegant, silky texture with a vibrant finish
- Refresh your palate between bites of rich holiday flavour
Inniskillin Dark Horse Vineyard, Pinot Noir
For our friends in the West, try Inniskillin Dark Horse Vineyard, Pinot Noir from B.C.'s Okanagan Valley
Meomi, Pinot Noir
- If you prefer a more robust, jammy style of red, try Meomi, Pinot Noir from California
- If your sauces are very rich in salt, fat or sweetness consider this fuller bodied Pinot Noir
- Gets the popular vote: It's the top selling Pinot Noir in Canada
- From California's coastal regions (Sonoma, Santa Barbara and Monterey)
White Wine: Try Sauvignon Blanc
Robert Mondavi Winery, Fumé Blanc 2015
- While a buttery Chardonnay is often a classic pairing for turkey, this dry Sauvignon Blanc has a lively, fresh character
- A portion is fermented in oak barrel that gives it a subtle, toasty smoky nuance, which highlights the roasted flavours in the bird and root vegetables
- Fresh, crisp finish
- A pioneer in Napa Valley, Robert Mondavi Winery is celebrating its 50th anniversary; Mr. Mondavi actually coined the term Fumé Blanc—his take on Sauvignon Blanc
If you want the more traditional pairing try Arterra—the newest Chardonnay from Niagara Peninsula region available online at the greatestatesniagara.com.
Will decanting an inexpensive wine make it taste better?
In general, decanting will do a few things:
- Brings a cellared red wine to room temperature
- Separates an aged wine from its sediments
- Aerates a young, fruity driven wine
Technically, it won't make an inexpensive wine taste better. Aeration will:
- Liberate fruit aromas by agitating the wine's surface. Hint: That's why you swirl a glass before drinking. It's not about being pretentious—swirling enhances aromatic intensity
- This makes a greater fruit impression on the nose. Psychologically, that's magic! Most of our taste sensation is actually aroma
- Change the wine's texture or soften tannins—that drying feeling you get on your gums and cheeks from red wines with high tannin (that is achieved over long periods of time in the cellar)
But that's not to say that decanting isn't important. Half the fun of consuming wine can be the ceremony with which it's presented and creating that anticipation! Wine looks beautiful in a fine decanter. And during the holidays, every meal tastes better with a little flourish and drama.