Monday, November 23, 2009

The holidays are a good time for food and wine!

By way of an introduction, my name is Craig Brazeal, Bar Manager at Mercy. I have been with Mercy since July 2008 and rapidly worked my way up to Bar Manager in May of 2009. I have been in the service industry for 15 years and my focus has always been the world of spirits and mixology; from creating featured cocktails to extensive drink menus and even teaching mixology at a culinary school. Some say I’m kind of a spirits super freak! I took the job at Mercy for many reasons but most importantly, I needed know more about wine, and learn I have ! Everyday I find out something new and exciting about the world of wine.

One of the things that we take great pride in at Mercy is our ability to cater to our guests wants and needs in regards to food and wine pairing. Usually our guests pick the wine and we will recommend food to go with wine or vise versa. It is one of the many things we do that really add to the Mercy experience. As Thanksgiving is this week, I would like to offer some wine suggestions to serve with your Thanksgiving feast.

The big question - which wine or wines go with the variety of tastes, textures and aromas that uniquely present themselves on Thanksgiving Day ? Should you choose one wine to carry you through appetizers to desserts – a tough request, but certainly doable. Or should you choose several wines to accent different components of the meal and cater to a variety of guests’ palates? The choice is entirely up to you, but here are some options to get you started.

If you do not want to buy several different wines for each course, one fail safe wine for any holiday feast is Champagne or sparkling wine. These wines bring both elegance and great food pairing versatility from the appetizers to the turkey and dressing all the way down to the pecan pie. A good dry sparkling will not only cleanse the palate for you next bite but also add a little texture with your meal.

Remember the art of food and wine pairing is largely a matter of personal preference; however some safe bets for Thanksgiving wines are Syrah/Shiraz, Zinfandels and my personal favorite Thanksgiving wine, Pinot Noir. Be careful with these wines, if they have a too heavy of a body they can overpower your food. The great thing about these wines is they add a little extra spice to your turkey. Light-bodied, fruit forward with a little bit of spice and earthy undertones are a great selection.

Beaujolais is another great versatile wine that compliments every dish on the dinner table. Light-bodied with low tannins and bright fruit, Beaujolais can bring out the flavor of your entire repertoire of food.

For you white wine lovers there is also a great verity of wines you can choose for your feast. Over the last couple of years I have experimented with white wine with holiday meals and found that Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio go really well with herbs mainly garlic and onions. The bright citrus based flavors of these wines really compliment any spicy dish.

If you really want to shake things up a bit on the table poor a Viognier or an Alberino. They are not as popular but can maintain great food pairing power. Because of the lack of knowledge these wines have with the common wine drinkers allow you guest to try these wines without food first otherwise the strong floral undertones will shock anybodies palate if you do not expect it especially after spicy food. (I found this out the hard way!)

I’m getting stuffed just writing this but there is still more to go!

Dessert time! Alright your friends and family have come over early to watch the football games, as the door opens the first thing you smell is that pumpkin pie and pecan pie baking in the oven. Your mouth starts to water and you know you have to wait several more hours before you get a chance to take that first bite of Thanksgiving heaven. Now its time! I did this for the first time last year and it really works. Tawny Port not only brought out but added great sweetness and nuttiness to both pies.

Sorry Mercy, but I have to put my two cents in! To me there is nothing better to end the night than a great brandy or aged scotch neat and a hand rolled cigar laughing with your friends and family.

I wish to all to of our guest and our entire staff and there families safe and happy Thanksgiving holiday!

Craig Brazeal
Bar Manager