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If you are the designated Thanksgiving wine buyer, think about this: Food and wine experts agree that at least a dozen varietals complement roast turkey, with its white and dark meat, savory stuffing, candied yams, rich gravy, and cranberry sauce. I realize this may be less than helpful news, so my first suggestion is that red and white wines share the table this season. You may be jostled by the hordes as you stand before the crowded wine shelves, and your eyes may start to ache, so keep these general concepts in mind: Avoid wines that are too tannic, oaky, or acidic. In most cases, that rules out aggressively oaked California chardonnays, bold cabernets, Italian reds, or any varietal that has a lot of oak-barrel exposure. Forget the sauvignon blancs; they’re too lean for the typical Thanksgiving fare. Instead, try an Alsace riesling, which has the advantage of being complex and interesting for wine aficionados, while still likely to appeal to your grandmother’s palate. Speaking of family, every one has at least one nonwine imbiber so to bridge the gap, pick up a bottle or two of a nonalcoholic cider. And please note, quality is important, but so is quantity. No one wants to drive to the liquor store during dinner. With your average family, you’ll get about six glasses of wine from a standard bottle. Figure on at least a half-bottle per person as a safe bet. For your red varietal, consider an American pinot noir. Pinot’s bright red fruit flavors and delicate body are well-suited for turkey. The following wines fit that description and are, with one or two exceptions, widely distributed in the greater D.C. area: • Loudoun Valley Vineyards Monte Bianco 2001 (Virginia): A lovely aperitif made locally. Mowed hay aromas open up to chrysanthemum, honey, and grapefruit flavors in this blend of chardonnay, sauvignon blanc, and moscato. ($16) • Willm Vin d’Alsace Riesling 2000: An off-dry wine with grapefruit, mineral, and flint aromas, and grapefruit and blousy honeysuckle flavors. ($10) • G�rard Neumeyer d’Alsace Riesling 1999: Burnt sugar and orange blossom aromas with melon, vanilla, caramel, and honey flavors. Enough minerality and density to make it a delicious food wine. ($9) • Benton Lane Pinot Noir 1999 (Oregon): Enticing lush, rich aromas of chocolate, mint, and cherries, and bracing acidity, delicate mouth-feel, and sour cherry flavors. To add to its charms, there’s a long cherry finish. ($19) • Saintsbury Carneros Garnet 2001: A clean bouquet of strawberries and sweet vanilla, with less fruit in the nose than the Benton Lane, this wine is appealing with turkey in a way much like cranberry sauce. Hint of root beer, a mere suggestion of oak and vanilla, and a long finish. ($20) • Cristom Vineyards, Marjorie Vineyard Pinot Noir 2000 (Willamette Valley, Ore.): An earthy, gamey wine with appealing complexity and an impressive nose of eucalyptus, with a hint of pepper and herbs. Flavor notes of plum, blackberry, and cloves open up on the palate. ($40/$21 half-bottle) WINE NEWS On the legal front, there have been two positive developments on the issue of direct wine shipments. On Nov. 12, a federal court in New York found that state’s prohibition on interstate, direct-to-consumer wine shipments to be unconstitutional. The New York law at stake required vintners outside New York to use state-authorized wholesalers. A Virginia winemaker, Juanita Swedenburg, challenged that law because she wanted the ability to directly ship wine to her customers in New York. Swedenburg was represented by the Institute for Justice, and U.S. District Judge Richard Berman ruled that New York’s ban is discriminatory. Berman’s ruling followed the lead of courts in Texas, Illinois, Virginia, and North Carolina that have blocked similar statutes. On Dec. 5, the court will decide on the proper remedies. Separately, President George W. Bush signed into law Nov. 4 the Department of Justice Appropriations Authorization Act, which includes a provision permitting wine purchased by winery visitors to be shipped to their home states, even if those states prohibit direct shipments of alcohol. That could make your next visit to California’s Napa Valley both more expensive and more rewarding. In a formal statement, Robert P. Koch, senior vice president of the Wine Institute, said, “This is a practical and responsible solution which was crafted by the Congress to help winery visitors get their wine home.” Elisabeth Frater is Legal Times’ “Wine Counsel.” She will be signing copies of her book, Breaking Away to Virginia and Maryland Wineries, on Dec. 3 at Corduroy Restaurant (see tastedc.com for details) and at the Curious Grape (4056 28th St., Arlington, Va. 22206; 703-671-8700) from 1-4 p.m. on Dec. 14.

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