Simple Thanksgiving Chardonnay


*Decanted, the Gallo chardonnay
could be a star on a traditional thanksgiving.*


For 15 years, I wrote a commercial newsletter on wine, food and places to
visit. It was called The Fearless Taster because I am a gourmand with BMW
taste but used-Corolla means. Professional wine writers do write about
inexpensive bargains from time to time, but I did it a lot. Now I’m
blogging, meaning, I’m writing again. Lucky you.

I cook our meals every day (we eat out rarely) except Thanksgiving, and
once in a while, Easter. Judy loves my cooking — and loves not having to
cook — but on the most traditional of holidays, she wants good old
American food. I can stand midwest Home Food Cafeteria cooking — honest,
belly warming, homey — once in a while. To make the bargain work, Judy
lets me make the gravy (as long as it’s traditional) and an
outside-the-turkey dressing. I can be as creative with that as I want to
be. This year my wild- and brown-rice, bagel cubes and pumpkin-spiced
moistener made from pumpkin and home-grown persimmons, further moistened
with a bit of blackberry wine, wasn’t exactly a winner and unfortunately I
made a lot of it. Her stuffing, with lots more of it baked as dressing,
was a lot better. Oh, well. It was a tasty, wonderful meal with family and

Judy had bought a Shiraz, Butterfield Station California 2002, made in
American Canyon (Napa County, I guess, or maybe Solano). It was good all
by itself but it didn’t go with anything on the table. I had opened a
Villa Mt. Eden California Coastal Cabernet Sauvignon, soft and fruity –
but it did nothing for the food, or vice-versa, either, although I drank
some anyway because it does taste good.

What took high honors was a Gallo Twin Valley California Chardonnay,
from a magnum, no less. It is “rich with flavors of citrus fruit, oak, and
a touch of vanilla, well-balanced and approachable,” just as its label
says. On sale around here for the equivalent of $3 a bottle, it’s a bit
simpler than Gallo says. It’s not exactly “rich,” but it has no
discernable (the only kind that matter) flaws, as Gallo tightly controls
its releases in that regard. In fact, with roasted turkey; sweet potatoes;
bread, sage, and raisin stuffing; mashed potatoes and gravy and even with
cranberry sauce, it played a supporting role with pleasant panache.

Good thing we didn’t have BMW-type company. For them I’d have served it
from an unmarked flask, although I’m telling everyone that Gallo (that is,
wines carrying their name — and even some of the umpteen other labels
they produce) is always a good choice even if you have to hide the bottle.
As it was, we couldn’t have done better with a Viognier (which Judy
wanted, but stores were full of Pinot Grigio which can be untrustworthy
under $15 or more) or a Sauvignon Blanc, which these days is apt to have
noticeable residual sugar unless it, too, costs $15 or more.

The Gallo Chardonnay went better with my attempt-at-sophistication
dressing than the others did. So I’d counsel having a jug or two of that
around the house when you want to celebrate and enhance traditional food,
or even simple chicken, pork or white-sauced pasta.

Bob Cramer.