Upcoming Wine Tastings

Thanksgiving Wine Treatise

I realized last year that Thanksgiving is really just about my favorite holiday; I even prefer it over my own birthday (though my birthday isn't a national holiday either).  Underneath it all, Thanksgiving is about a big, involved meal with friends and family; basically it's a great excuse for a dinner party.  And I love dinner parties! 


So I've been devoting a lot of thought to what I want to drink for Thanksgiving.  And not just what I want to drink with Thanksgiving but what I want to drink with every possible contingency that could arise on Thanksgiving!  Turducken? Friuli red blend from Comelli!  Turkey burnt beyond recognition?  Magnum of Dierberg Pinot to drown your sorrows!  Turkey lasagna?  I Balzini Red Label Super Tuscan!  Brussel sprouts with garlic, salt, and pepper?  Hatzidakis Nykteri Assyrtiko!

I could go on and on, but really, that wouldn't be in keeping with Devenish's focus on education and empowering you to be better wine consumers.  Instead of just dictating to you a list of wines that I approve of, I feel it would be more progressive to explain what kinds of wines I think suite Thanksgiving food and why.  So here goes nothin'!

Excess is an integral part of the American Thanksgiving dinner, but adding high alcohol reds (like 15% Zins) to the tryptophan in turkey can knock you out harder than a roofied Pinot Grigio.  So in the interest of going the distance I'm focusing on wines that aren't too heavy handed.  Turkey, while flavorful, isn't a really rich meat and is often kind of dry and lean; therefore I look to brighter vibrant reds that will complement the slightly gamy qualities of the bird with out overwhelming the flavor.  I really like Pinot Noirs for this purpose.  There are a couple different primary regions that are known for Pinot Noir which each have there own characteristics, but all the good examples will have a deft balance and soft texture that will work towards the goal of complementing turkey's flavor with out overwhelming it.  Broadly speaking, French Pinot will be a bit lighter and silky; Oregon will be a bit earthier and brawnier (more rugged Pacific northwest if you will) and Santa Barbara Pinot is often more fruit driven and hedonistic.  All these styles have their strengths.  I think the French is the most mouth watering, but Oregon has that rustic honesty, and Santa Barbara is just, well, gorgeous.

DISCLAIMER: this is a personal recommendation.  I may not follow it my self.  There are certainly always exceptions to the rule, especially in wine, and the unexpected prodigal son is often the most rewarding for it's unexpectedness.

But when was the last time you had a Thanksgiving meal that was simply turkey and nothing else?  Right!  There's mashed potatoes, roasted squash, root vegetables, stuffing, probably some cheeses.  And then desert!  The point is that there's a lot more to take into account than just turkey.  As Marylin Munroe said, and I'm so fond of quoting, Champagne goes with everything!  And it looks cool.  The effervescence helps to remove food flavors from your mouth, allowing you to taste the wine and making it seem more refreshing.  I'd recommend some kind of sparkling wine made in the Champagne style, but not necessarily Chapmagne because of the cost. You can get sparkling wine that's just as good for half the price from Cava or the Loire if you go to a good shop and ask around.

If Champagne for Thanksgiving doesn't really do it for you I'd recommend some kind of white that's full bodied but also still has some good acidity to it, and maybe a bit of sweetness.  A dry German or Alsatian Riesling or not quite dry Loire Vouvray would be perfect; full enough that it won't get pushed around by sweet potatoes and stuffing, but still bright and with some mineral and earth tones that will help it against roasted vegetables.  Argentine Torrontes has always been another favorite of mine for this. 


Here's a picture of someone trying to enjoy all those wines at once.  On a train.

And let's not forget Cabernet Franc!  A nice medium bodied Loire Cabernet Franc will have a silky texture, but a bit more fruit and pepper than a Pinot Noir.  They're less common, but I think they're some of the best food friendly wines around.  Bourgueil and Chinon are the two best appellations.  Any good wine shop will have a couple.  Check out this post on Bourgueil form

These are just guidelines and a glimpse at how I approach wines at Thanksgiving.  Probably the best way to find a wine that will please you is to come to one of my many wine tastings over this week and see what strikes your fancy.  Check out my Coming Events here!

Dominio do Bibei Wine Dinner at Bresca Wednesday October 19th

I don't really know where to start here.  Bresca?  I love Bresca.  Dominio do Bibei?  I love Dominio do Bibei.  Puppet theater?  Yup, that too.  Anyway, here's the deal.  Dominio do Bibei is a fantastic, really exciting, passion driven little winery in the rocky hills of Ribeira Sacra Galicia.  I won't really let myself go over this; plenty of other people have.  You can read some of their quotes here:

Dominio do Bibei

Jancis Robinson

Arnold Waldstein

Video with one of the owners

Krista and I are doing a five course dinner with the wines of Dominio do Bibei.  Not only will we have the Lalama, but also their single varietal Brancellao and Mouraton.  These are indigenous grape varieties that are extremely rare even in Galicia.  I've never had a pure Brancellao or Mouraton.  And only six bottles of each are coming into Maine.  Krista is really excited and is setting up a smoker in her parking lot to cook for this!

That all sounds amazing, right?  Well here's the icing on the cake: instead of just me getting up and talking about these wines....I'm going to stage puppet shows in between courses.  Yes, I am going to describe and introduce the wines using a pair of puppets conducting a Socratic dialog.

$75 per person for five courses with wine.  And puppets.  Call 207 7721004 to make reservations.

Cotes du Rhone Wine Dinner at the Eastender Tuesday October 18th

Meg and Jo thinking about the wine dinner.

It's a simple, unassuming name: Cotes du Rhone.  It's also misleading.  The Cotes du Rhone appellation covers a vast region including many more prestigious appellations.  Think Cornas, Chateauneuf du Pape, Vacqueyras, and Lirac.  All these more sought after (and pricier) regions are allowed to produce wines labeled Cotes du Rhone.  Some act as second labels and excellent values that still express all the unique character of their particular terroirs. 

So to demonstrate this I am hosting a four course dinner at the Eastender!  Mitch and Meg are putting together a menu to showcase the white Cotes du Rhone, and red Cotes du Rhone from producers in Chateauneuf du Pape, Vacqueyras, and Gigondas.

Cost is just $45, call 207-879-7669 for reservations

20/40 Charity Wine tasting at the Salt Exchange on Sunday March 21


This is a big project I have been working on for months and I'm really excited that it's finally come together.  I have organized with four other small wine distributors (Davine, Easterly, SoPo, and Crush) to put on a large focused wine show.  These are some of the other small companies that are driving the explosion in diversity that the Maine wine market is currently undergoing, so having us all together at the same time is going to be an amazing opportunity to talk to us about what's going on in the wine world.  For this format each of us will bring four wines, all Spanish.  That gives us twenty unusual exciting wines: from ultra rare Priorats to rare Basque whites.  Ticket sales will be capped at 70 so that it won't be too crowded and you'll still be able to take your time tasting through everything.  The Salt Exchange will have small nibbles of food out and additional food for sale from the bar.  Tickets will be $40 and all our profits will be donated to the Compass Project: a local non-profit that uses boat building as a hands on skills based approach to build confidence and a sense of responsibility in at risk children.  Additionally 10% of the value of any wine ordered from the Old Port Wine Merchant next store will also be donated to the Compass Project.  Call the Salt Exchange at 207 347 5687 to make reservations

What: Wine Show of 20 Spanish wines; all proceeds going to the Compass Project.

Where: The Salt Exchange on Commercial. 207 347 5687

When: 3-6pm

Cost: $40

10 wines for $10 tasting

Tuesday of next week I'll be at Back St Bistro in Brunswick, pouring ten wines from my portfolio for only $10.  Plus, if you stick around for dinner after the tasting you'll get $10 off your entrĂ©e!  It's a good deal and a great excuse to get out on a Tuesday night.  The tasting will be from 5-7; feel free to stop by anytime.  If you do want to have dinner afterwards I'd recommend making reservations in advance as the restaurant can get pretty busy as the tasting ends.  Here's a list of the wines I'll have open:

Gustav Gruner Veltliner 2008

Cinquante Cinq Sauvignon Blanc 2007

Jelu Torrontes 2009

Vientos del Sur Viognier 2009

Le Colture Prosecco "Rose Brut" NV

Ermita San Felices Crianza Rioja 2006

Punta Pays Malbec 2008

Bong Bong Shiraz 2008

Chateau la Baume Costieres de Nimes 2007

Trappolini Cenereto Sangiovese IGT 2008

You may not recognize all of them or know what the varietals are, but that's kind of the point, right?  This is a great way to find some new wines you really like without having to spend the approximately $120 it would take to buy a bottle of each of these wines.  And of course with Valentines day coming I had to include the rose Prosecco!

Starlane Wine Dinner at Evangeline December 16

On Wednesday December 16 I will host a 4 course Prix Fixe dinner at Evangeline!  The restaurant has been deservedly packed since the article in the NY times about him and the Portland food scene.  Starlane is an up and coming CA winery that has consistently impressed me.  Their Cabernet Sauvignon was declared best new domestic Cabernet of the year by Food and Wine and their Dierberg Pinot Noir was #49 on the Wine Spectator's top 100 list last year.  The cost of the dinner with wine is only $55!  That's a steal, considering that's about what the Cabernet or Pinot Noir alone would cost you retail.

Call 207 791 2800 for more info and reservations.