Doug Seed was posed with a challenge, one that he gladly accepted.
The chef and owner of Morada Eats catering and A Moveable Feast food truck was asked to come up with small bites of Thanksgiving fare and pair them with LangeTwins estate wines for the first LangeTwins “Friendsgiving” party on the eve of the holiday.
The guests enjoyed themselves so much that LangeTwins owners Randy and Charlene Lange asked Chef Seed to cater the second “Friendsgiving” celebration on Nov. 23 at the winery’s magnificent Press Room in Acampo.
“The idea was to have something the night before chaos … date night,” Charlene Lange said. “The idea was not to have dinner, but a sort of warm up before Thanksgiving, a chance to just sit back and relax before the big day. And everyone had a really good time.”
Seed and his daughter-in-law Amy Seed, a Millennial who’s every bit the foodie and oenophile that Doug is, put their heads together last year and came up with some pretty awesome combinations. Not resting on their laurels, Doug and Amy asked my wife Christiane and I to join Charlene and Randy to sample this year’s menu.
Doug and Amy study the flavors of the food and wine to find combinations that work in harmony, not an easy feat with the myriad flavor profiles of a typical Thanksgiving meal.
Perhaps these pairings will help you plan your Thanksgiving menu.
Up first was a cheese, nut and fruit course with a chilled glass of LangeTwins Sauvignon Blanc made from a Musque clone grown in young vineyards in Lodi and just south of Clarksburg. The wine is stainless steel fermented to preserve its crisp acidity and fruit flavors, and aged on its lees (dead yeast cells) to give it a soft palate and a creamy finish.
Up next was sage dressing paired with LangeTwins Gewurztraminer from vineyards in the San Joaquin-Sacramento Delta. Gewurztraminer is one of the varietals in the LangeTwins’ Gray Label collection and is available only to wine club members and through the tasting room. The German and Austrian white varietal has enticing apricot, apple and honey aromas with a touch of baking spice, a resounding hit with the savory, herbaceous and faintly sweet dressing.
“I went through with some of my family and friends in preparation for this, and we thought the gewürztraminer had hints of apple and fruit in it,” said Doug Seed, “so I added to the dressing some apples that go well with the gewürztraminer.”
Many believe white wines are the way to go with Thanksgiving, but red wines pair well with many traditional dishes. For instance, LangeTwins Petite Sirah, another in the Gray Label collection, was splendid with Chef Seed’s turkey meatballs. The dark cherry, plum and cranberry aromas and flavors in the wine had similarities with traditional cranberry sauce and compotes many serve with turkey.
The next combination was Seed’s playful deconstruction of green bean casserole: A mushroom cap stuffed with lardons, slivered almonds and green beans served with LangeTwins flagship zinfandel, Centennial, which comes from a 106-year-old vineyard in Lodi, aged 24 months in gently-used American oak and available in retail markets.
“Really complex, highly complex,” Amy Seed said. “Great layers of flavor.”
The dessert sampling paired LangeTwins Gray Label Port with a disc of roasted yam topped with cranberry compote and a pumpkin spice cream puff. The tartness of the compote and the creamy, savory and sweet yam worked with the wine, as did the cream puff, which wasn’t cloyingly sweet.
The food and fellowship of Thanksgiving or any occasion that brings friends and family together only can be enhanced by harmonious food and wine combinations. And it sure is fun to be with people who know what they’re doing.