Christmas is nearly within sight, but it’s also still that little bit too far away. If you want an excuse to party early though, Thanksgiving - the American national holiday - is the perfect invitation.
The menu is similar to our turkey feast, only with sweet potatoes replacing roast spuds and pumpkin recipes for starters and dessert, and for that extra star-spangled feast, try some full-flavoured whites and reds from California.
Celebrating with a glass of chardonnay is paramount to California dreamin’ and a lightly oaked style (similar to a good white Burgundy) from top value producer Schug Carneros Estate is a perfect pairing with seafood starters, or pumpkin soup with a dollop of sour cream. Try Schug Carneros Chardonnay 2012, USA (£16.99, Marks and Spencer) which shows plenty of body with a honeysuckle nose, vibrant tropical fruit flavours and snappy acidity.
Alternatively, if you prefer a richer, creamy style offering a wealth of complex flavours but with no oak influence, try Marimar Estate Acero Chardonnay 2009, Russian River, USA (£25.20, Penistone Court Wine Cellars, 01226 766 037). This crowd-pleasing chardonnay is incredibly easy to drink and is well-suited to shellfish and smoked fish - a glorious drop of sunshine from beginning to end,
For the second course of glazed roast turkey, cranberry sauce and gravy, a ripe, generous red such as The Prospector California 2012, USA (£11.99, www.laithwaites.co.uk) makes an ideal choice. The blend is predominantly made from zinfandel, California’s workhorse grape, and the juicy black cherry fruit has been heightened by a splash of malbec and syrah (shiraz) to create a soft and velvety mouthfeel with blackberry and damson, and a twist of black pepper on the finish.
Burgundy is the birthplace of fine pinot noir and this French classic is a favourite all-rounder with turkey. But some of the best pinot can also be found in cool climate Carneros, and wines such as Domaine Carneros Avant Garde Pinot Noir 2011, USA (£20.99, www.frazierswine.co.uk) are the pinnacle of New World pinot. Soft, silky, and sensuous, it has enticing scents of raspberry and wild strawberry with delicate black cherry and spice on the finish with depth, length, and the mildest of tannins.
On the other side of the fence, Rodney Strong Cabernet Sauvignon 2009, Sonoma County, USA (£16.30, www.tanners-wines.co.uk) is a riot of richness with herby blackcurrant flavours, dense berries, cedar, spicy oak and firm tannins on the long, grippy finish and can be enjoyed with turkey, roasted sweet potatoes and all the trimmings.
Stag’s Leap Winery, one of California’s top players and most famous cabernet sauvignon labels, produces wines par excellence. With accolades including ‘Red Fine Wine of the Year 2013’ at this year’s Imbibe Sommelier Wine Awards, Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2008, Stags Leap District, USA (£40, www.cellarviewines.com) is a trophy red suited to a presidential-style dinner. A symphony of violet-scented fruit with massive flavours of blackberry and cassis enveloped in velvet with polished tannins and great length, this is a wine that’s difficult to keep your hands off. Decant a couple of hours before serving ready to enjoy, and celebrate, with your nearest and dearest.