Friday, November 4, 2011

Zaca Mesa Winery Pairs Food-friendly Wines With Ethnic Variations On Thanksgiving Classics










Wines at a Global Table


     We have visited Zaca Mesa on many occasions over the years.  The drive along Foxen Canyon Road is breathtaking and features many outstanding wineries along the way. However , Zaza Mesa  was the first Central Coast winery to appear in Wine Spectator’s Top 10 back in 1995. A year later, their  Syrah was served by President Clinton to French President Jacque Chirac at a White House State Dinner. To show that we are not leaning one direction, our wines were also served at President Reagan’s 80th birthday party at the Beverly Hilton.

We are coming up close to the Holiday Season and home cooks across the U.S. are bringing fresh ideas to the table this Thanksgiving with dishes inspired by flavors they’ve tasted around the globe. Despite its being a quintessential American holiday, Thanksgiving provides the wonderful foundations of turkey, stuffing, cranberries and pumpkin pie on which to riff with multi-ethnic variations. 

But when it comes to pairing wines with a spiced-up Thanksgiving meal, it can be tricky to navigate which will best complement – not compete with – each dish’s complex flavors. Known for their dogged commitment to producing food-friendly wines, the team at Zaca Mesa Winery in California’s Santa Ynez Valley has a match for even the wildest of international Thanksgiving dish interpretations.

  • From Japan: Miso-Rubbed Turkey, paired with 2009 Zaca Mesa Viognier
For a deliciously moist and flavorful miso-rubbed turkey, the 2009 Zaca Mesa Viognier is a natural pairing.  On the nose, aromas of honeysuckle and white peach hint at sweetness, but the wine is fundamentally dry on the palate with notes of ripe apricot, lemon-lime, melon and lychee. This wine is sturdy enough to stand up to such a rich centerpiece, yet light on its feet with floral and exotic fruit notes.

  • From Italy: Roast Turkey with Black Truffle Butter, paired with Zaca Mesa’s 2007 Mesa Reserve Syrah
If you’re going over the top with a luxurious black truffle butter-rubbed turkey, why not go over the top with a luxurious Syrah to match?  This commanding wine shows aromas of ripe blackberries, espresso, pipe smoke and sage spice with a very long finish. As an added bonus, this wine just looks gorgeous on the table, robed in rich ruby.

  • From Latin America: Polenta and Chorizo Stuffing, paired with the 2008 Zaca Mesa Syrah
The key to pairing wine with Latino flavors and textures is smokiness, and the 2008 Syrah has that in spades.  Rich black fruit, cassis, tobacco, mocha, and sage come across on the bouquet, and the silky finish lingers from the ripe tannins and smoky oak. This is a full-bodied wine for a flavor-forward dish.

  • From the Middle East: Jeweled Rice with Dried Fruit, paired with the 2007 Z Cuvée
Opulent aromas of cherry and blackberry pie filling, cassis, red currant, and anise spice fill each glass of Z Cuvée and beautifully reflect the nuanced Middle Eastern flavors of dried apricots and cranberries.  Served at room temperature, this wine’s full fruit bouquet is cut with a touch of minerality that complements rich pistachios and raisins…and begs for another sip. 

  • From India: Cranberry, Quince, and Pearl Onion Chutney, paired with Zaca Mesa’s 2008 Z Blanc
Chutneys and compotes can make wine pairing exceedingly difficult, but the ripe aromas and flavors of honeysuckle, currants, and quince in the 2008 Z Blanc white Rhône blend meet the tartness of this chutney with ample weight. With a full-bodied texture and loads of pure floral notes, the Z Blanc can either be opened for this Thanksgiving or cellared for next – it’s that precocious.

  • From Mexico: Pumpkin Flan with Spiced Pumpkin Seeds paired with 2007 Zaca Mesa Roussanne
Despite the fact that this flan is technically sweet and the 2008 Roussanne is technically dry, the heft of pumpkin and spices of cayenne and nutmeg make an unexpectedly good match with the Roussanne’s caramel apple and toasted nut notes. This wine is just a sucker for rich, fragrant foods (see truffle-rubbed turkey above) and heightens the satisfaction that each bite brings.


Zaca Mesa Winery, located in the Santa Ynez Valley of Santa Barbara County, California, is dedicated to estate grown and bottled Rhône varietal wines. They hand craft their wines with integrity using traditional methods from grapes sustainably grown in their vineyard.  Since 1973, they have farmed and nurtured their vineyard to produce wines that are true to the unique spirit of their land. For more information about Zaca Mesa Winery call (805) 688-9339, fax (805) 688-8796, or visit www.zacamesa.com. Zaca Mesa Winery is located at 6905 Foxen Canyon Rd., Los Olivos, CA 93441.

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Elaine and Scott

Elaine and Scott
Elaine and Scott