WWDD or What Would Diva Drink? Part Deux

WWDD or What Would Diva Drink? Part Deux

After many requests, I’ve decided to post this entry from my newsletter to the blog. In fact, folks seemed to like it so much that I’m going to do a WWDD part 2 for the December holidays, with all new stores. My question to you, dear readers, is this: Where do you shop? Where would you like me to visit? Please comment away! In the meantime, enjoy my turkey day picks below.


WWDD Or What Would Diva Drink?

As the all important belly stuffing meal approaches, I am constantly asked by friends and family, “What goes with turkey?” I usually go right into my schpiel on how I prefer slightly sweet whites and soft fruity reds with my Thanksgiving spread and all the regions and styles they should explore. But about two minutes in, I see my pals’ eyes glaze over and I realize something. They don’t care. Their cartoon thought bubble would read, “Blah blah blah. Shut up and just tell me what to buy.” Now, its not that my pals are insensitive or completely uninterested, its just they’ve got a hundred things on their minds and to do lists before they have to face their family on Thursday. Learning more about wine can be a New Year’s Resolution; this is crunch time. Understood.

So, I went to several different stores in
Chicago with a pretend $100 budget and a mission to buy a sparkling wine, a red, a white, and a dessert wine to accompany my own turkey feed. Here’s my report with some quick notes on each selection.


In Fine Spirits –5418 N Clark St

Henri Mandoit Blanc de Blancs Champagne 2000 

Bott-Geyl Gentil d’Alsace 2004 $14.99 

Scott HarveyAmador County Barbera 2002 $16.99

Tobin James Paso Robles Late Harvest Zinfandel 2004 $19.99 (375ml)


Lots of boutique wines and fun, mostly new world selections at this small and friendly shop.  Don’t miss the middle of the store dedicated to value wines under $15. The Mandois is 100 % Chardonnay and a terrific aperitif. Bott-Geyl’s Gentil is a delightfully aromatic mix of
Muscat, Riesling, Pinot Gris, Slyvaner, and Pinot Blanc. While I’m not generally a fan of “Cal-Ital’s”, Scott Harvey is a great winemaker and crafts this soft and juicy Barbera with a studied nod to the classic Italian style. Late harvest Zin is like liquid raspberries and you should pour some over flourless chocolate cake whenever you get the chance.


Cost Co –Clybourn Ave

Veuve Clicquot “Yellow Label” Brut Champagne NV $32.99

Chateau St Michelle Cold Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley Riesling 2005?

Cuvaison Carneros Chardonnay 2003 $16.99

Dashe Dry Creek Zinfandel 2004 $19.99

Fonseca Bin 27 Ruby Port $14.99 

While I found plenty of terrific wines here, several were missing prices or not well marked. I was surprised to see they had only one Pinot Noir in the store and only one bottle of it remaining in the bin. I left the one bottle of Iron Horse for another Pinot Noir fan to discover and pressed on. The price on Veuve Clicquot was good and it’s always a crowd pleaser. I would have bought the CSM Riesling, but there was no price on it. I had already asked a somewhat flustered employee to check the price on another unmarked Newton Unfiltered Chardonnay which took quite a while and I feared she might cry if I asked her to check another one. I opted instead for a good old standby Chardonnay that isn’t overly oaky from Cuvaison. My Mom loves it. Dashe is a small producer that every Zin fan should check out for great value. For those that may be curious about port, Fonseca is one of the most prestigious brands in
Portugal and their entry level ruby is a great introduction to the legendary fortified dessert wine.


Sam’s Wine & Spirits – Chicago 

Delamotte Brut Champagne NV $34.99

Schoffit Alsace Pinot Blanc Auxerrois Vielles Vignes 2004 $15.99

Etude Carneros Estate Pinot Noir 2004 $39.99

Campbells Rutherglen Tokay NV $15.99 (375ml) 

I know. I overspent. It happens. Delamotte is a sort of second label to one of my all time favorite
Champagnes, Salon. I can’t afford Salon now or probably ever, so this is as close as I get unless someone else is paying. The Schoffit is a rich white that’s mostly dry with aromas of apricots and almonds. Most tasty. As I mentioned on WGN, the Etude is my hubby’s favorite wine and I buy it for him every Thanksgiving. One year, I snagged a magnum at a charity event and haven’t been able to find another since. If you see one, please email me! Serving pumpkin pie or spice cake this year? There is no better dessert wine match than this Tokay from Australia.


Whole Foods –Ashland Ave at Lincoln 

Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Rose Champagne NV $35.99 

Gustave Lorentz Alsace Gewurztraminer 2005 $16.99

Ridge Geyserville Sonoma (Zinfandel) 2003 $35.99

Taylor Fladgate LBV Port 2000 $20.99 

Guilty again (Oh, like you’ve never overspent your budget at Whole Foods?!) I could have chosen the regular Feuillatte Brut NV for the terrific $25 price, but dude, the Rose is just soooo good. Lorentz makes some very reliable wines for the price and the Gewurz is a nice change up from my ususal choice of Riesling. One of my favorite wines, year after year, is Ridge Geyserville. It’s mostly Zinfandel but varies in blend every year with a bit of Petite Sirah, Carignan, or whatever else might be growing in the corners of this famed vineyard. I rarely use the word elegant in reference to Zinfandel, but Ridge delivers truly balanced and yes, elegant Zinfandel based wines year after year. LBV Ports are made in the same style as true vintage ports, but cost a lot less. Taylor Fladgate, another super prestigious name in Oporto, makes a juicy LBV that is affordable and ready to drink now.


Jewel – Kedzie and Addison 

Mumm Cuvee Napa Brut NV $17.99

Hogue Columbia Valley Riesling 2005 $8.99

La Crema Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir 2005 $20.99

Cockburn Special Reserve Port $16.99 

I almost went for a bottle of Veuve Clicquot here, but it was $45 and locked in a glass case. This leads me to believe that they don’t sell much of it and it might be old and tired. My trusted
Champagne confidant Charles Stanfield tells me that the new winemaker at Mumm Napa is a young and talented chap who is turning out some great stuff, so I opted for that instead. Plus I didn’t need to hunt down someone with a key. Washington state is a plum region for Riesling in the
US and I must admit I don’t taste them nearly enough. Hogue is a safe bet, especially with the screwcap. LaCrema makes a tempting cherry-berry style Pinot Noir that should be soft and fruity enough for any relative that may not be a regular red wine drinker. The Special Reserve from Cockburn is another good “starter” port for folks new to the dessert wine scene. (One hint – its pronounced COE-burn. The c and k are silent.)  

Jewel – Lincoln Ave near Montrose 

Korbel Brut Rose NV $9.99

Beringer California Gewurztraminer 2005 $9.99

DaVinci Chianti 2005 $13.99
Sutter Home California Moscato 2005 $4.99 

Pickins were a bit slim here, but if you have limited time, selection, and/or budget you can still snag some decent juice to accompany your feast. I always give props to Korbel for making true methode champenoise bubbly, knowing they need to produce over a million cases a year. I think they do a great job considering the volume they produce, and it’s pretty much available everywhere. Go for the Rose if you have a choice. Honestly, I’ve never had Beringer’s Gewurztraminer, but it was a fresh vintage, the price was right, and Beringer is a reliable producer. If I were shopping for myself, I’d give it a shot. As luck would have it, I just tried a press sample of the 05 DaVinci Chianti the night before I went shopping. It had much more forward fruit than most Chiantis and a nice hint of cranberry on the nose. I’ll bet it will be delish with most folk’s traditional fare. As for the Sutter Home, my rationale was “what the hell; its only five bucks”. I would expect a light, simple, and fairly sweet wine that will probably delight anyone in your family who is not a regular wine drinker. Pour Grandma a taste of this before dinner and be her favorite.


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