Beaujolais Nouveau 2012 Debuts, Plus More Wine For the Holidays

As stunning ladies on stilts walked around the Highline Ballroom followed by an acrobat, the stage cleared of performers and lit up to welcome techno-illusionist Marco Tempest as he debuted the 2012 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau. As “magic” flowed from his fingers on the digital screen, a clock ticked down the hour. At midnight, with cheers reminiscent of New Years Eve, he popped the cork off the first bottle and poured.

For 30 years this tradition has maintained, with one rule: You can only open the first-harvest wine on the third Thursday in November, which, thanks to a strange calendar this year was last night. Usually this happens the same week as Thanksgiving, and that’s another reason you see bottles of this inexpensive French wine at most holiday feasts.

Yet, while Beaujolais Nouveau remains a fun tradition; and other vineyards produce the wine, though never with the same fanfare; there are many other wines worth picking up for your holiday feast. On the French side, a crisp Alsace Riesling or full-bodied Alsace Pinot Gris proves a great wine for your main feast, even for guests who think only red wine goes with meat. Before the party, you could wet diners’ appetites with a glass of Domaine du Tariquet Classic, a perky white with a hint of citrus.

Also in white wine range, go for an unsung, inexpensive New York State wine like Thirsty Owl’s Dry Riesling or Red Newt’s “Curry Creek Vineyards” Gewurztraminer. You might be surprised how well these actually pair with a traditional Thanksgiving feast.

On the red side, Shinn Estate’s Cabernet Franc goes down well with an array of dishes, and a dark and spicy Blaufrankisch, also called Lemberger, from Channing Daughters will have your guests wondering when you got so adventurous with wine. You could also go for a bottle of Banfi Brunello di Montalcino, which brings softSangiovese grapes to the table. There’s also the Pinot Project from California that usually runs around $15 and offers a subtle spice and juicy finish.

But what about dessert you may ask? Recently I was sent a bottle of ChocolatRouge, a wine made with pure chocolate. Yes, it scared me a little too, but the resulting beverage proved smooth, rich, and almost like having cocoa and a port wine in one glass. Give it a whirl, and remember, in the end the important thing about this holiday is to give thanks, thanks for to your liver for being such a trouper.

Mushrooms, Mushrooms Everywhere: And Where to Eat Them

The best part about seasonal food is the influx of menus, tastings, dishes, and drinks dedicated to whatever plant is growing now. Enter, mushroom season and an array of ways to get down with fungi.

First up, Paprika in the East Village where chef and owner Egidio Donagrandi is offering a tasting menu from now, until October 28, that focuses on different types of mushrooms. “Wild mushrooms are in season and they are perfect for the fall as we transition to heartier winter foods,” said Donagrandi. “My favorite [mushroom dish], and one of the most traditional dishes in Valtellina, is trifolata, which is fresh porcini mushrooms sautéed in oil with garlic, parsley, and sometimes with a little beef or veal jus.”

Though the menu at this Northern Italian restaurant doesn’t feature the owner’s favorite plate, they do offer four courses for $52, including dumplings in mushroom broth, buckwheat and cornmeal polenta with wild mushrooms, maltagliati with roasted chanterelles, sage and veal jus, and finally, leg of lamb crowned with more chanterelles. If you are vegetarian, don’t worry, you can also order dishes a la carte, and, if you happen to go on a Monday, bottles of wine are half off.

The wine list at Paprika is Italian, so you might want to go with a Pinot grigio. If you happen to be pairing another bottle of wine with mushrooms, try its aromatic, smoky and rich French counterpart, Pinot gris—especially if you can get a bottle from Alsace. 

This wine would go splendidly with David Bouley’s porcini flan with black truffles, which he serves at his Financial District restaurant Bouley. The French chef also adds the seasonal truffles to his scrambled eggs. If truffles are your thing, you can also get a taste of the fancy fungi at Tocqueville, where chef Marco Moreira adds white truffles and chanterelles to his potato gnocchi. At the Andrew Carmellini’s The Dutch, they add chanterelles to the herb roasted chicken, and have three types in their pilaf.

Finally, if you are more in the mood to cook your own fungi, hit up the New Amsterdam Market for some of the freshest mushrooms around. If you aren’t sure what you are looking at, New York Magazine recently wrote a handy little guide to all things fungi