Welcome to Pinot Noir Week!

This may be Thanksgiving week, but around here we think of it in a different way. Around here, this is Pinot Noir week.

Through years — no, make that decades — of experimentation, we’ve come to the conclusion that although several types of wine pair nicely with the big Thanksgiving meal, no variety goes better than Pinot Noir.

If you like Chardonnay, or Riesling, or Pinot Blanc or sparkling wine — by all means, open a bottle (or two) for the big feed on Thursday.

But if you’re seeking a culinary experience in which the wine intermingles with the turkey and all the fixin’s in a truly sublime manner, opt for Pinot Noir.

What makes the pairing even more interesting is that no two wineries produce Pinot Noir that taste exactly the same. Furthermore, there can be quite a bit of difference from vintage to vintage.

Pinot Noir is a famously persnickety grape when it comes to ripening. Some years, the grapes seem to take forever to attain their optimum sugar levels. In other years, their development seems to stop on a dime, and picking must commence immediately.

Within individual clusters, the Pinot Noir grapes rarely are uniform in size; rather, they tend to be a mix of larger berries and smaller berries. In general, the smaller berries are more coveted by vintners because of their larger skins-to-juice ratio — desirable when making red wine.

The fruit varies from region to region and vineyard to vineyard, and the treatment it receives in the cellar also can vary. But a majority of vintners embrace traditional Burgundian techniques.

In the Burgundy appellation of France, the winemakers eschew must pumps and refrigeration, and don’t use any fancy equipment. Instead, they opt for manual punchdowns and other procedures that treat the fruit gently and squeeze out every drop of flavor.

So even though those flavors may vary slightly from winery to winery or bottle to bottle, Pinot Noir will always delight the palate with its full mouthfeel and engaging flavors.

And those flavors provide one more reason to be thankful on Thanksgiving Day.

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Posted in Wine in the Glass
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