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5 wine tips to impress your guests
Plus: Top news of the week — First 8 CMS bond projects announced — PR pioneer Joe Epley dies — Raj Chetty praises Charlotte's economic mobility efforts — Miles Bridges returns to Hornets
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‘The pop just gets the party started.’ Here’s how local experts say to choose the perfect bottle.
When going to a wine shop for recommendations, Petit Philippe owner Mark Meissner (pictured) says to “align yourself with someone who doesn't make you feel stupid.” Petit Philippe recently opened a new location in Myers Park at 4001 Park Road.
By Lindsey Banks
Hosting for the holidays? We know you’ve got a ton on your plate. Let us help you choose the right bottle of wine.
It isn’t always easy, but if done correctly, wine can highlight and enhance the flavors of the meal you’ve worked hard on all day.
The Ledger consulted Mark Meissner, who owns Petit Philippe Fine Wine in Charlotte with his wife, Casey Hickey, to learn how to pair wine with traditional holiday food. We also talked to Lauren Deese, executive director of Charlotte Wine + Food, a nonprofit that hosts food and wine events to benefit children’s charities, to get her advice on wine shopping.
Here are the top 5 tips you need to know to choose the perfect bottle for your table:
🍷Serve sparkling wine as an aperitif.
Whether you’re serving appetizers or a few guests who show up early, popping open a sparkling wine gets everyone in a celebratory, thankful mood.
“The sound of the ‘pop’ just gets the party started,” Deese said. “You want it while the effervescence of all those bubbles are coming through.”
Bubbly wine pairs well with cheese plates, charcuterie boards, meatballs and veggies, Meissner said.
Champagne is the most popular sparkling wine, but Deese also recommends other sparkling wines like Cava from Spain, Prosecco from Italy or Crémant from France.
🍷Think about who you’re serving.
If you’ve got a large group with multiple preferences, there are a few safe options that tend to be crowd-pleasers.
For red wine, any kind of blend is a great option, Deese says. For white wine, you can’t go wrong with a sauvignon blanc or a chardonnay.
How much to buy: A standard pour is 5 ounces and most wine bottles are 25 ounces, so that means one bottle of wine typically serves five people, Deese said. She recommends offering at least one bottle of white, one bottle of red and one bottle of sparkling wine to cover your bases.
If you’re worried about pleasing your group, ask everyone to bring a bottle of their favorite wine. It’s a great way to ensure everyone’s taste is satisfied, and you can make a wine exchange out of it. Ask everyone to bring two bottles of the same wine to give to a guest at the end of the night.
🍷Consider the food and flavors already on your dinner table.
Traditional American holiday meals involve a lot of rich flavors and ingredients, like gravy with bone stock, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. If you’re looking to expand your wine journey and impress your guests, what’s on your dinner table should influence the wine you pour.
Meissner says a good wine is a combination of marrying flavors and juxtaposing the acids of the wine with the fats of the meal.
If you’re having cranberry sauce, look for a wine with a primary red fruit like raspberry, strawberry or red currant. Meissner suggests a pinot noir. Food with highly reductive, balsamic sauces and things that are influenced by black fruit will marry the best with wines that lean more in that direction like a syrah or a cabernet blend.
Good acid elevates and brightens the flavor of the food. If you aren’t sure about how acidic you like your wine, give your local wine shop examples of your favorite salad dressings. (Are you more of a vinaigrette person, or a ranch dressing person?)
“Salad vinaigrette comes alive with the vinegar,” Meissner said. “The oil gives it more texture and body, but the acid is what elevates the food, and I think that's really what you’re after.”
If you’re serving turkey this Thanksgiving, Meisser recommends a dry white wine, like a chardonnay or gewürztraminer, for its acidity and complexity. If you’re looking for a heavier, riper red wine, you might try a Russian River pinot noir or a Bordeaux blend, which pairs well with stuffing.
The riper the grapes, the higher the alcohol level, which also translates to lower acidity.
“If the [alcohol level] is somewhere between 13% and 13.5%, you’re going to have a higher acid wine, generally speaking, versus if you buy something that’s 15%, it’s going to have lower acid,” Meissner said.
Pro tip: Tannins are another aspect of wine that affects the experience. It adds complexity to the wine and leaves a dryness in your mouth.
“Less tannins and less acidity, the wines are going to be flabbier — more like grape juice,” Meissner said. “The more acid and more tannins, the wines get tighter. They tend to be more rigid and more focused on flavor.”
🍷Don’t be afraid to splurge.
If you’ve ever thought about splurging on a bottle of wine, now is the time to do it, Meissner and Deese agree.
You can spend as much as $100 on a bottle, but if you’re on a budget, Deese says you can find a solid bottle of red in the $30 to $40 range. For white wine, you can find a good bottle in the $15 to $25 range.
Meissner says spending $50 to $70 on a bottle of champagne is warranted if you can really appreciate the bubbles.
You can find good deals at big box stores like Costco and Total Wine, but if you really want that personalized help to find the best bottle for your table …
🍷Lean on smaller businesses/wine shops to get personalized help.
Wine shopping can be intimidating, especially if you don’t know much more beyond the basic descriptions of “crispy white” and “bold red.” But the basics are all you need to know if you choose to shop at local wine shops.
“Every local wine shop has wonderful people working in them that can help guide you to something if you just provide your opinions and flavor profiles and budget,” Deese said.
Sommeliers and beverage directors know what wines they carry and should be able to point you toward the right bottle based on the description of wines you’ve liked in the past and what food you’re planning on serving.
“Align yourself with someone who doesn't make you feel stupid,” Meissner said. “Find yourself with someone who can make some recommendations and then try a few things before Thanksgiving.”
Here is a list of local wine shops that were recommended to The Ledger:
Petit Philippe on Park Road and in South End
The Wine Vault in University City and Elizabeth
Bond Street in Myers Park
Arthur’s inside Belk's in SouthPark
Winestore in SouthPark and on Rea Road
Mere’s in Dilworth
Foxcroft Wine in SouthPark, Waverly and Dilworth
Bar a Vins in NoDa
Assorted Table inside 7th Street Market in uptown
Reid’s in Myers Park, SouthPark and uptown
🍷Leave a comment if you have a wine recommendation for fellow Ledger readers. Meissner said that finding a good, balanced wine comes with experience and trial and error.
Lindsey Banks is a staff reporter for The Ledger: firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s supporting sponsor is The Mint Museum. Get ready for Museum Store Sunday! Forget Black Friday, The Mint Museum Store is offering 30% off sale items on the Sunday after Thanksgiving! Be Thoughtful, Shop Artful.
This week in Charlotte: Video surfaces of officer punching a suspect; Rep. Tricia Cotham to run for re-election?; CLT predicts busiest Thanksgiving in airport history; CATS picks new bus operator
On Saturdays, The Ledger sifts through the local news of the week and links to the top articles — even if they appeared somewhere else. We’ll help you get caught up. That’s what Saturdays are for.
First CMS bond projects: (WFAE) One week after voters in Mecklenburg County approved $2.5B in school bonds, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools announced the first eight projects that will be funded by the bond, including replacing the remaining old buildings at South Mecklenburg High, finishing renovations at Northwest School of the Arts and building a new south Charlotte middle school.
CMS moves away from big high schools: (Ledger 🔒) Construction of the new Ballantyne Ridge High, which is scheduled to open in the fall of 2024, signals the end of mega-high schools in Charlotte, as school officials seek to get high schools within the 2,000 to 2,500-student range. Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools officials say besides giant high schools being unwieldy for students, land acquisition for huge campuses is difficult, and the plan is to create regional athletic facilities.
Tricia Cotham said to be running for re-election: (Observer) State Rep. Tricia Cotham, a Mint Hill Republican who switched parties and helped Republicans secure a supermajority, plans to run for re-election to the North Carolina House, a GOP official said. Cotham later told TV news stations that she hasn’t made a decision about her political future.
N.C. Democrats vote against recognizing Jewish Caucus: (WFAE) The N.C. Democratic Party voted against recognizing the Jewish Caucus as an official affiliated organization, causing frustration among some Jewish Democrats who questioned if the party has been influenced by the “anti-Jewish left.”
Police video draws response: (WBTV) Police are looking into an incident captured on video this week that shows a Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police officer punching a woman lying on the ground. CMPD said the woman had struck an officer in the face and was resisting arrest. The department said it is asking a judge to allow the public release of videos from body cameras.
✈️ Busy Thanksgiving expected at CLT: (Ledger) The Thanksgiving travel season at Charlotte Douglas International Airport is expected to be the busiest ever, with about 900,000 passengers predicted to depart during the 12-day period.
New bus operator picked: (WFAE) The Charlotte Area Transit System has selected private company National Express Transit, which manages buses in Boston and Washington, to manage Charlotte’s bus system. It will replace RATP-DEV, which has run Charlotte’s buses for two decades.
Primark opens at Concord Mills: (Biz Journal) International retailer Primark opened a store in Concord Mills on Thursday offering clothing, housewares, beauty products and gifts. The Irish-born company now operates in 15 countries with a focus on “high-quality fashion at value prices.”
‘Famous Toastery Bowl’: (ESPN) Charlotte-based Famous Toastery will be the title sponsor of the college football bowl game played at UNC Charlotte on Dec. 18. The “Famous Toastery Bowl” will be a replacement of the Bahamas Bowl, which is being moved temporarily while a football stadium in the Bahamas is undergoing renovations.
Miles Bridges returns after suspension: (Reuters) Charlotte Hornets forward Miles Bridges returned to the court Friday night after a 30-game suspension due to a domestic violence case. The Hornets lost to the Milwaukee Bucks, 130-99.
From the Ledger family of newsletters
From novice to novelist: For over 100 years, the Charlotte Writers Club has welcomed members of all writing backgrounds, offering support, expert advice and a focus on the often-overlooked steps beyond writing — like finding an agent and getting published.
You Ask, We Answer: The Ledger responds to a reader's request for information on the new Congressional districts post-election.
Pineville reinstates criminal penalties for panhandling: The Pineville Town Council unanimously reinstated criminal penalties for aggressive panhandling, while the Charlotte City Council continues to deliberate on similar measures for offenses like public urination and defecation.
Chetty praises Charlotte: Harvard economist Raj Chetty, known for his 2014 research ranking Charlotte last among 50 U.S. cities for economic mobility, expresses optimism about the city's progress in improving economic opportunity, commending coordinated efforts and teasing upcoming research that may indicate positive changes since 2014.
🎧 New podcast: Retired District Court Judge Tracy Hewett discusses her career journey, her recent retirement and her experiences as a lawyer and a judge
Charlotte’s newsletter wars: 6AM City, a major operator of locally focused email newsletters around the country, plans to launch “CLTtoday” in Charlotte, competing with Axios Charlotte. The publication plans to focus on positive, uplifting and advertiser-friendly content without covering politics or divisive topics, and aims to grow to around 100,000 subscribers by investing in social media ads and hiring staff.
Heated discussion on gun range in Pineville: Palmetto State Armory, a South Carolina-based gun shop, has plans to open a shooting range across from Carolina Place Mall in Pineville. While some residents express concerns about safety, others argue that gun ranges are safe and regulated, with the town council ultimately approving the zoning text amendment and site plan.
Renowned public relations figure Joe Epley, often hailed as an institution and the “Godfather of PR,” passed away suddenly at 85, leaving a lasting legacy as the founder of Epley Associates in 1968, co-founder of Worldcom Public Relations Group and president of the Public Relations Society of America in 1991.
How is transit faring post-pandemic? Uptown Charlotte has seen a return of about 75% of its pre-pandemic population based on cell phone location data; however, the ridership for the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has not yet reached pre-pandemic levels, with numbers hovering around 60% recovery.
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