Wines: Let’s Talk Turkey!

Adam Arlen

, Happy Hour

Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away, and tables will be set with a variety of different flavors and textures. Tempranillo from the Spanish region of Rioja fits the bill quite nicely. Located in the north-central high plateau of Spain, Tempranillo finds its true home. This versatile grape can be served with just about anything under the sun and complement it very well. It is a medium-bodied wine with a perfectly balanced structure kissed with American oak.


Label help

In Rioja, Reserva does have a legal definition.

To be labeled as Reserva, the wine must be aged at least 3 years total, with at least 1 year in oak. To be labeled Gran Reserva, the wine must be aged at least 5 years with at least 2 years in oak. Gran Reserva wines are typically made in only the very best vintages and can age gracefully for at least another 10 to 15 years. Crianza wines are young, fresh and juicy — and are best when consumed in their youth.


Why they work

Tempranillo has great acid to keep your mouth watering with Thanksgiving dinner and just enough tannin to go with turkey or ham, without overpowering anything else on the table. This wine also works well with steak and sushi. The texture of great sushi blends well with Tempranillo’s spicy, herbaceous character.



What I am drinking:

1994 Bodegas Urbina Rioja Gran Reserva

Ruby red with purple hues. Good intensity aromas of which highlights the fruits of various kinds with good maturity and expressiveness, flowers, sweet spices, toasted flavors and scrubland. The palate is tasty, with good balance and quite round, also shows vividness and character, fresh and soft tannins, the aftertaste quite well with almost all the aromas of the nose. Long aftertaste with good persistence. Pick it up for $60.


2014 Bodegas Otano Rioja Reserva

Fresh cherry and plum aromas are a bit scratchy but alert. This feels firm, with bright acidity creating a raw sense on the palate. Plum, berry and a pinch of saltiness make for an authentic flavor profile, while this finishes long and steady. Pick it up for about $25.


Turkey and wine images courtesy
Label image courtesy




Adam Arlen, Sommelier


Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”





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