15 November 2010

Soave and Thanksgiving

Around this time of year, every wine writer feels obliged to write the Thanksgiving Recommendation List, and every publicist amends their press releases to say, "This wine would be great with Thanksgiving dinner!" Frankly anything will work, and everything will fail in some way. If only you care about wine, bring something you want to drink. If your family doesn't care, don't force a vertical tasting on them. If there's a little curiosity in between, I still stand by my 2008 advice: Think PIGS. Portugal, Italy, Greece, and Spain. And with that in mind, I do think that Soave from Italy's Veneto region does go pretty darn well with turkey, ham, stuffing, and even your aunt's green bean casserole with the fried onions on top.

Made primarily from the Garganega grape, I've always enjoyed Soave. It's nothing like Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, the two most common white grapes you'll encounter. It's easier to pronounce than other Italian whites like Verdicchio: so-AH-vay.

The other thing that is crucial for Thanksgiving is that these wines are not hard to find. You should be able to find a Soave in any decent wine shop for $10-15. And if you decide not to take it to the family gathering with you, it is even better late Thursday night with leftovers.

2009 Montresor Capitel Alto Soave Classico
80% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano di Soave
$15, 12.5% abv.

Orange blossom with a touch of grass, light citrus flavors, a round body, and a short finish. Mild and delicate. Beyond poultry and associated dishes, Soave goes very well with mildly seasoned seafood. If you buck tradition and serve a big roast salmon instead of a turkey, this will still work.

The second Soave of the lineup is a little stronger...

2009 Fattori Giovanni Motto Piane Soave
100% Garganega
$15, 14% abv

Tropical fruit, flowers, firmer, stronger, a touch of minerals, with a nice round mouthfeel. Fermented both in oak and stainless steel. Between the two, consider this one if you prefer bigger, bolder flavors, but it's still a relatively light wine.

Something that I think is crucial when it comes to a party or big dinner situation is that Soave continues to be balanced even at room temperature. There are some inexpensive Chardonnays, for instance, that become sour and almost painful to consume as they warm up, and can turn off people who don't try a dozen different wines every week. You're not going to have that problem with a lighter wine like this, and it will be an interesting change of pace for those relatives that are scared to venture beyond Pinot Grigio.

Note: These wines were received as samples.


fredric koeppel said...

you just have to choose the Soave carefully. these sound well-made and good, but there's an awful lot of bland, watery crap out there.

Benito said...


Certainly true, though I try to remember a time when I thought that Merlot was a powerful, shockingly tannic grape and was amazed to discover that there was such a beast as red Zinfandel. I think even a lesser Soave would be a good baby step towards a broader understanding of wine for a newcomer, or for someone who might only have one glass of wine a month.


Thomas said...

Have your readers look for Tamellini Soave Classico. Can't go wrong.

Anyway, isn't Thanksgiving an American holiday? ;)

Benito said...


Thanks for the recommendation, I'll keep an eye out for it.

I do remember a t-shirt from back in the 80s that said, "AMERICA: a great ITALIAN name". :)


Thomas said...

Hey, I grew up in my Italian-American neighborhood with a guy named Americo, and I don't mean that long ago either...