Alternative German Whites for the Holidays

With the holidays at hand, it’s a safe bet there’ll be a flock of delicious fowl featured proudly on American dinner tables throughout the season, beginning with our imminent turkey fête, but also assuredly migrating throughout the season to other succulent birds be it chicken, game hen, pheasant, capon or quail, etc.  The wines that shall accompany our feathered friends during these festive meals will mostly be a matter of personal preference, taste and budget.  And while I contend that there’s hardly a wrong wine to serve for Thanksgiving, there are a few choices that offer a measure of food-friendly flexibility.

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Since my recent visit to German wine country, I have found myself waxing enthusiastically with our guests and team members about the stellar selections I encountered throughout the Rhineland-Palatinate.  Quite frankly, it’s hard to argue with a glass of Mosel Riesling accompanying any poultry preparation, but I was equally impressed with some of Germany’s alternative whites.

Pinot Grigio’s viticultural cousin, Pinot Blanc is definitely one of these.  Both members of the Pinot family can trace their origins to Alsace.  Across the Rhine River in Germany, Pinot Blanc is traditionally known as Weissburgunder, although you’re less likely to find it bottled under this moniker here in Florida.  Produced in the Rheinhessen, PJ Valckenberg Pinot Blanc ($12) is a solid value, sporting a crisp palate of orange zest, white peach, nectarine and slate.

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More frequently paired with Asian cuisine, Gewürztraminer is also versatile enough to serve with Thanksgiving fare.  “Gewürz” translates to “spicy” and PJ Valckenberg Gewurtraminer ($11) presents a bouquet of rose petal and zesty notes of peach and lychee on the palate.  This full-flavored, off-dry white displays the varietal’s telltale notes of nutmeg, cinnamon and clove.  Just sounds like a holiday wine, doesn’t it?

The fruit for their Gewürztraminer is sourced from vineyard holdings in the Pfaltz, a region noted for its elegant, ethereal wines.  Should you find yourself in the Pfaltz in the middle of September, be sure to visit the picturesque village of Bad Durkheim and experience the Durkheimer Wurstmarkt firsthand.  It’s the world’s biggest wine festival with more than a half million people attending every year and plenty of terrific German wine and food to enjoy and share with your friends and colleagues.

Jim Greeley, ABC Fine Wine & Spirits wine & spirits supervisor

Follow me on Twitter @ABCWineJimG

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