Beer & Wine: Hop City

Published by: Belinda Skelton on Thursday November 12th, 2015

Belinda Skelton

Seven Wines for Thanksgiving

by Kraig Torres

Hop City Craft Beer & Wine

 The holidays are upon us and that means pressure to keep the gang entertained with the best beers and wines without breaking the budget. Naturally, Riesling and Gewürztraminer make great white wine pairings. I've picked a great one to go with the bird. That said, there is plenty of room to pick something fun and unusual as well. On the red side, Pinot Noir and Beaujolais are the classic bird pairings. Again, I picked one of these out too, but I encourage you to broaden your horizons with some different reds as well.

 If you choose to go Riesling, make sure you know what you are buying. Many consumers assume that Riesling is sweet...and sometimes that IS the case. Luckily, the Germans (as many, many great Reisling come from Germany) came up with the Prädikat system to help us understand what the bottle will taste like. Specifically for turkey, I recommend a nice dry Riesling.

 The levels in the Prädikat system can give you a hint at how sweet the wine will be: the more ripe the grapes are, the more sugar they have before fermentation...and the more likely there will be some sugar left over when the fermentation stops. This leftover sugar is called 'residual sugar'.

(Prädikat isn't a perfect predictor of sweetness, though. More on the exceptions later.)

Kabinett is the least-ripe of the spectrum, and wines in this category are usually light and fresh. Grapes for Spätlese wines were left on the vine a little longer to get more sugar, and the resulting wine is likely to be more powerful and rich, plus sweeter than the Kabinett. Auslesewines are even more honeyed and bold, made from riper grapes than Spätlese. These wines age beautifully, though they're also excellent accompaniments to a cheese plate whenever you're ready to pop the corks.

Looking for a sweet wine for after dinner? Look for Beerenauslese orTrockenbeerenauslese. Yep, that's the sweet stuff: trocken means 'dry,' but here the term refers to the dried berries on the vine rather than the wine. These sweet wines are made with late-harvest grapes attacked by botrytis or 'noble rot'—the same fungus that makes the renowned wines of Sauternes.

Enough with the chit-chat, though. Here are my seven wines of Thanksgiving:

White Wines:

 Monte Tondo Soave Brut Italian Sparkling (Hop City Price $20.99)

 The French do not have an exclusive on great bubbly. This dry Italian sparkler has a wonderful burst of minerality that makes it a great background for virtually any course on the Thanksgiving table. It has a delicate fruit complexion reminiscent of green apples and ripe mango.  I like it as a “pre-game” alternative to beer or as a post-dinner palate-cleanser. It's my go-to sparkling wine this year.

 C.H. Berres Kinheimer Hubertuslay Kabinett Riesling 2002 Estate-Bottled Mosel (Hop City price $18.99)

 This would go extremely well with yams (though not with too much brown sugar and marshmallow), root veggies, a tart cranberry sauce, turkey breast... It is a drier Riesling/white option that is SUPER versatile and can mesh happily with a high percentage of the diverse dishes that cover the holiday table. The age on this bottle gives it layers of qualities that travel from the aroma to front of a palate all the way through the finish. However, it still drinks beautifully fresh and vibrant for such a sage, wizened German white.

 Valserrano Rioja Blanco 2013 (Hop City price $19.99)

 This is a richer, slightly bolder, weightier white for the seasons. This is a far friendlier food-focused white for your typical Chardonnay drinker, with zippy acidity and elegant strength. While dry and flavorful, this wine does not have the butterscotchy-vanilla or ultra woodsiness that can make New World Chardonnay a little difficult to pair with an array of flavors. This has the power to hold up to ANY part of the bird, no matter the size, and can go with any other meat (maybe excluding any true red meat) that typically graces the Turkey Day cornucopia. Try this, too, with any richer veggie-based sides like creamy green beans or saucy 

 Nuo Vermintino 2013 from Sardinia (Hop City price $17.99)

 Made by allowing the skins of a white wine to soak with the pressed juice for a time, orange wine is much richer in color, flavor, and weirdness than most whites. Richnes from the tannin allows for orange wine to stand up to the richer foods like game birds and pork, but it also fares well with oily fish like mackerel and smoked whitefish. The Nuo Vermientino is loaded with funky apricot, sage, rosemar, and cedar notes. There is also a touch of salinity due to the 

coastal location of the vineyards. This is an extremely interesting wine and a great introduction to “orange” wine all around.

 Red Wines:

 Charles Gonnet Chignin Mondeuse "Vieilles Vignes" 2014 (Hop City Price $19.99)

 Excellent alternative to the well-loved holiday traditions of pairing Pinot Noir and Beaujolais (which are still always delicious!) with the main meal. Dry and very dark in color, yet light to medium in body, this Chignin rouge is going to go beautifully with any fattier cuts that you might serve (think pork or dark turkey meat), as it will cut through the fat with the perfect level of tannins to be both versatile with fat or softer flavors and easy to drink a couple... or a few... glasses of. Beautiful fruit with bitter cherry and mineral/granite notes.

 Tommaso Bussola Amarone (Hop City Price $64.99)

 Made by drying grapes on large open-air racks prior to pressing, Amarone has an extremely deep flavor loaded with dark fruits like dried blackberry and fig. This is a perfect wine to impress California Cab drinkers while expanding their horizons. Given the production process, as many as five or six times as many grapes are used per bottle in Amarone, making it a little pricy. That said, the reward in flavor and “funkiness” is worth it. This style (and specific wine) is all velvet in texture but bold in flavor, so pair it with roast beer, rack of lamb, venison, or other rich, fatty foods. This will destroy your turkey unless heavily spiced. Try a cajun-spiced deep-fried turkey for best results.

 Bodegas Toro Albala “Don PX 1983 (Hop City Price $34.99/375ml bottle)

 Stuck on your dessert wine for the holiday? Need something cooler than ruby port? This is your answer. Black in color but made from a the white grape Pedro Ximonez (PX for short), the winery bakes this grape in the sun then ages the juice for many years. This 1983 vintage was not bottled until 2012! the aging process makdes for an extremely concentrated, rick, and intensely sweet wine that will linger in your mouth for ages. People who swear they do not like sweet wines will swoon. The leathery-molasses flavor combines with a puree of dates makes for a one-of-a-kind dessert wine. This will pair vey well with chocolate but even better with any kind of pungent cheese. Try a cheese course with dessert with an aged blue cheese and you will have a memorable pairing experience.

 About the author:

Kraig is the founder and Chief Hophead at Hop City Craft Beer & Wine, with locations in West Midtown, Inman Park, and Birmingham, AL. (www.HopCityBeer.com) An avid beer and wine enthusiast, Kraig opened Hop City in 2009 and has been blessed with numerous awards and top-ten rankings including Atlanta Magazine (5 of the last 7 years), Creative Loafing, Zagat, Ratebeer.com, Beer Avocate, and Draft Magazine. He has been featured on CNN Weekend and is a regular contributor to WSB's Belinda Skelton's Atlanta Living. He and his team love to recommend beer and wine based on simple questions, like the way a person takes their coffee or tea. Swing by any of the locations to grab a bottle, six-pack, or growler. Or, grab a pint at the Krog Street Market Hop City, which has 60 rotating by-the-glass taps along with wine and cocktails. 

Kraig Torres is an experienced beer tasting professional with over 8,000 beer ratings. He is a 20-year Atlanta resident with an entrepreneurial background. As an avid beer enthusiast, he has travelled the world drinking beer in pubs and breweries the world over. His specialty is beer/food pairings. In 2009, Kraig made the leap from amateur imbiber to professional drinker by founding Hop City Craft Beer and Wine. Hop City is craft beer heaven – home to the East Coast’s largest selection of sudsy fun – over 1,900 unique ale and lager opportunities every day. Hop City is not just a beer destination – with over 1,100 wines – most from small producers – Kraig developed a deep love and respect of wine as well.

Kraig was the first person to jump in to the beer Growler scene in Georgia, starting with just 12 taps, and expanding to 60 in 2011. Beer Advocate has awarded Hop City an A+, their highest rating; and RateBeer considers Hop City one of the country’s top 10 retailers. Kraig was a 2012 finalist for Atlanta Chamber of Commerce Entrepreneur of the Year and in 2014 was ranked among the fastest growing businesses in the city.

In 2012, the state of Georgia could no longer contain Kraig’s ambition: Hop City Birmingham opened – and to great acclaim. It quickly became the top beer destination in Alabama. Not only does Hop City carry every beer available in AL but all 66 of our taps in Growlertown are available for by-the-glass enjoyment. This makes Hop City beer-lover’s paradise. Sit and enjoy a beer, shop the amazing selection, then sip on a pint while putting together a new homebrew creation. In September 2014 Kraig opened his 3rd Hop City in the highly anticipated Krog Street Market building in Inman Park.


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