The Food Guy, Steven Keith Eating his way through the state, plate by plate

Cross Wine Shopping Off Your Thanksgiving To-Do List

Although it’s a wee bit early to start any Thanksgiving cooking, you can go ahead and cross wine shopping off your list today.

Few things stress out hosts more than the pressure of pairing perfect wines to complement the food they’ll be serving. Lucky for them, a traditional Thanksgiving menu is so varied in flavors that a complex (or even a specific) wine is not really your best bet. There are several simple reds AND whites that should work out just fine.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • White: German Rieslings are usually crowd-pleasers because their sweetness appeals to those who don’t think they like wine, yet they are subtly nuanced enough to be appreciated by more experienced wine drinkers. I still prefer a creamy and buttery Chardonnay, but a sweet Riesling or light Pinot Grigio will usually please more of the masses.
  • Red: The Gamay grape goes well with turkey, so look for a nice Beaujolais from France. (It’s light and fruity enough to please most without offending any.) Beaujolais Nouveau is the most prevalent you’ll see, but splurge a few dollars more for a better cru Beaujolais, like Morgon and Fleurie.
  • Sparkling: A festive bubbly is fun, and the touch of sophistication it adds leaves no doubt that you’ve gathered for a special occasion. Champagne (France) is nice, but don’t overlook a less-expensive Prosecco (Italy) or Cava (Spain) either. In fact, you could try both for the cost of a single bottle of decent Champagne.
  • Worth a Splurge: When you have the urge to splurge on some fabulous fruit of the vine, a big red is always a great choice. Opus One is a popular choice, but will set you back about $200. You could buy four or five really nice bottles for that price, so I’d go that route instead. Just explain what type of wine you like and let a knowledgeable employee or friend point you in the right direction. As for a high-end bubbly, there’s pricey Dom Perignon and Cristal, or the more reasonable – but still highly regarded – Veuve Cliquot.
  • And for Dessert: Choosing a dessert wine can be tricky, but Ports are a perfect winter treat with bottles running the price gamut – from $15 to $100-plus. My pick is a richly decadent Sauterne, a fortified French dessert wine that tastes of fine brandy and butterscotch more that straight sugar. Delicious!

Drinking for a Good Cause

If you’re gonna drink this holiday season, you might as well do it for a cause …

Gallo Family Vineyards has joined up with Meals on Wheels of America to raise awareness for hunger relief by offering a way for people to help feed American seniors and families in need – all while celebrating with their own friends and loved ones.

Between now and the end of the year, Gallo Family Vineyards will donate $5 to Meals on Wheels for every Gallo wine cork sent in. The company’s goal is to raise $25,000 by Dec. 31. That’s 5,000 corks, so get to sippin’!!

Corks should be mailed to Corks to Fight Hunger Donation, P.O. Box 1154, Grand Rapids, MN 55745-1154. Visit to learn more.

Nothing to Whine About at Expanded Wine Shop

So I finally had a chance to check out the newly located (and larger!) Wine Shop at Capitol Market. Since moving down the hall to the space formerly occupied by Perdue’s, the shop has been able to rearrange and, more importantly, expand its offerings. There’s now room for more craft beers, more imported cheeses and, of course, more wine. The most exciting change for me, is the addition of a special climate-controlled room that houses a nice collection of premium wines. Not that I’ll be a frequent purchaser of these pricier bottles, but it makes me happy knowing they’re being well taken care of.

And the service is still great. After years ago proclaiming a Rust en Vrede Stellenbosch one of the best red wines I’ve ever had — and recently going ga-ga over a Rustenberg Chardonnay — I’m pretty much ready to declare South African wines the best in the world. (And that’s a big statement coming from this French and California-loving wineaux.) When I asked owner Ted Armbrecht for something similar, he directed me to a few bottles of Pinotage, the wine that put South Africa on the map. My favorite was the Wildekrans Estate Pinotage from the Walker Bay area. At $17.99, it was worth every penny.

Just like walking into a room in your house after the furniture has been rearranged, browsing through the new Wine Shop takes a few minutes to get used to. You have to re-learn where things are and the new lay of the land. But that’s a small price to pay for progress. And pampered bottles.

*  *  *

Speaking of libations, I’ll be heading down to Bridge Road Bistro tonight for a special vodka and gin tasting featuring Smooth Ambler spirits paired with some of the Bistro’s tasty morsels. (Check out the full story here: I’ll post all the juicy details after the event tonight or tomorrow morning. Or tomorrow afternoon, depending on just how potent these potables turn out to be!

Welcome to the new “Food Guy” food blog!

Greetings, dear readers, and welcome to the new “Food Guy” food blog!

If you’ve followed my weekly food column in the Charleston Daily Mail for the past 10 or so years, you already know I’m pretty obsessed with cooking, recipes, restaurants, wine — pretty much anything food-related. Or maybe I just like to eat. Either way, I figure I’m not alone, so I hope you’ll check back here often so we can share our love of all things yummy together. I’ll still be writing my weekly column for the newspaper, but this here blog is where I’ll start sharing cooking tips, restaurant updates, new food finds, random rants and more on a more frequent basis. And I look forward to hearing what you have to say, too.

So welcome, food friends! And let the discussion begin!!