Mondavi's Thanksgiving menu pairs well with his Charles Krug wines. He suggests the 2006 Chardonnay for appetizers. The wine has a crisp acidity and offers flavors of pear, pineapple, orange blossom, toasty almond and vanilla, making it an ideal sipper while nibbling on veggie and seafood appetizers.
“The 2005 Pinot Noir has black cherry notes that play well with cranberry side dishes. It is also a very soft red that compliments the flavors of turkey,” he describes. “The 2005 Zinfandel's lush and opulent jammy fruits, primarily plum, and its very soft tannins compliment many of the same dishes as the Pinot Noir. But the Zin raises the level a notch, so the wine comes more to the foreground of the meal, but not necessarily the center of attention.”
For a more sophisticated feasting wine he suggests 2003 Family Reserve Generations. “A radically different approach is pairing the meal with a spice driven wine. Cinnamon is most dominant in the wine, and this is a flavor found in some side dishes this time of the year. The wine also has elegant, subtle tannins.”
Talking Thanksgiving brings back memories for Mondavi who inherited his passion for cooking from his Grandmother Mondavi. “I remember watching my grandmother hand-rolling traditional Italian pastas from scratch with a rolling pin for her flavorful Ragu sauce and Italian sausages. Sometimes she added fowl and rabbit in her sauces,” he recalls. And from his father he inherited a love of the wine business. “I had to decide between business school and cooking school,” he says. “But I chose business school because the wine is in my blood.”