Thanksgiving Wine and Holiday Wine: Four Surefire Ways to Play it

Outsmarting Thanksgiving Wine with Ruche, Cali Wine, & More

The one thing that should not cause you stress this Thanksgiving is wine — that is, if you know where to look. I make Thanksgiving wine and holiday wine painless by laying out these four options.:

The Coolest Light Red: Ruchè from Piedmont, Italy

If you choose only one wine: here’s a moderately priced wine that is holiday-perfect, an insider pick that I first discovered at Danny Meyer’s soul-satifsying Marta restaurant in New York a few years ago: Ruchè (roo-kay). A light-to-medium bodied red, Ruche is versatile and goes beautifully with most foods, from light and dark meat turkey to baked ham to cranberry sauce and almost any side you bring to it. It has a wonderful, exotic red berry aroma that evokes both geraniums and black pepper, joined by a clean, refreshing, juicy taste that will invigorate everyone at your table. It is chic, fun, and light on its feet, like Pinot Noir crossed with the spirit of Isabella Rossellini.

A bonus for Ruchè is that it will shock and awe your guests as even many wine pros aren’t familiar with it, but it is available in the United States if you know where to look. Ask a good local wine merchant for it or consult Wine Searcher to see where it is closest to you.

I recently visited one of Ruche’s best producers, Crivelli in Monferrato, Italy, and talked with its owner, the cool cat Marco Crivelli, about Crivelli Ruche’s personality and the boozy origin of its label:

Buy Napa and Sonoma

In the wake of the California wildfires, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino are open for business and needing our support. This holiday season, give thanks to the regions that have given us so much pleasure: buy Napa, buy Sonoma, buy Mendocino.  And do try to visit Northern Cali wine country in the next year.

To honor some of the wineries most damaged in the wildfires, I sourced a selection of the wines available in New York, including Frey Organic Wine, William Hill Estate, Mayacamas Vineyards, Ancient Oak Cellars, Gundlach Bundschu Winery, Storybook Mountain Vineyards:

In Rachael Ray EveryDay: Mark’s Wines for Stuffing Your Face

In this month’s Rachael Ray EveryDay magazine, I supply strategies for Thanksgiving wine and holiday wine. I prefer going white and red (i.e., double-fisting it) on this most gluttonous of holidays, and also including pink bubbly and the recently released Beaujolais Nouveau in my T-day mix.

At The Daily Meal: Mark’s 10 Best People-Pleasing, No-Hassle, Thankgiving Wines Under $15

These ten wines are inexpensive, widely available, and sure to get you comfortably numb before family fights erupt.

And Remember, If Only One Wine, Go Ruchè

If you need one Thankgiving or holiday wine pick, go Ruche from Piedmont region of Italy
Chic, fun, and light on its feet, Ruchè is like Pinot Noir crossed with the spirit of Isabella Rossellini.

White Truffle Just Sold for an Astonishing $87,000

In Alba, Italy, today, I witness a white truffle sell for a price of a Range Rover Sport.


In his rousing hit “Uptown Funk,” Bruno Mars declares, “This hit, that ice cold…Michelle Pfeiffer, that white gold.”

The still-stunning screen goddess, whose Hollywood debut seared itself into pop culture the moment she stepped into that glass elevator in the movie Scarface, is not the only avatar of “white gold,” however.

The tartufo bianco d’Alba – or white truffle of Alba, Italy — is another rare commodity known as white gold. Today at the 18th administration of the World Truffle Auction in Alba, Italy, it lived up to its sobriquet. I witnessed a trio of white truffles, a total of 480 grams of the knobby mushroom perched on a velvet red pillow, be purchased by Hong Kong mogul Eugene Fung for the eye-popping sum of $87,000. Proceeds benefit a local hospital in Italy.


Suffering from an unseasonably dry and hot summer and early fall, Italy’s Piedmont region has endured one of the worst seasons for white truffles on record. Prices for the coveted delicacy have accordingly doubled to at least 6000 euro per kilogram, placing it out the reach of many restauranteurs and diners.  Undaunted, Mr. Fung bid from Hong Kong via satellite link, dogfighting with other bidders for about eight minutes and ultimately emerging the winner of the enormous cluster of white gold.

If he chooses to enjoy his white truffle as it is traditionally done, he will be shaving the funky, earth fungus raw over buttered noodles or scrambled eggs, the customary vehicles for what many consider the world’s greatest culinary delicacy.

An Italian model stuns the audience with the 480 grams of white gold.


World’s Best Dessert Wine with a Twinkie?

Described by 90-year-old wine legend Michael Broadbent as his first ever “top wine” and featured in the movie Kingsman: The Secret Service, 1937 Château d’Yquem is the world’s best dessert wine from arguably its best ever vintage. In Kingsman, Colin Firth’s character flippantly recommends to the villain played by Samuel L. Jackson that they pair “Twinkies with a 1937 Château d’Yquem”. Inspired by this exchange, I gave it a go:

Truth be told, I waited to introduce the Twinkie until there were only a few gulps of Yquem left. This is because the menu that preceded the pairing was nothing less than epic (see details below), lovingly prepared by my gastronaut friends Evan and Laura at their stunning Chelsea flat. At the table was one of America’s most generous and discerning wine collectors, who shares extraordinary wine as freely as a mother Robin doles out worms to her hatchlings. (In his company over the years, I have been fortunate to drink Yquem from 1995, 1989, 1988, 1983, and even an 1893). Of the hundreds of Yquem bottles he has tasted, his all-time favorite, he once told me, was the 1937.

So when I saw a 1937 Yquem come up at an auction last month, I pounced. This was perhaps the most illustrious single bottle I have ever invested in. Even as wine fraud becomes an ever greater concern, this particular bottle came from uncommonly clean hands — namely, those of collector Tawfiq Khoury, who is known to have purchased much of his legendary collection in the less counterfeit-happy times of 1970’s and 1980’s.

The ’37 Yquem did not disappoint. In fact, it was the most exquisite dessert wine ever to pass these lips. On first sniff, this dark-copper-colored exilir showed trademark Yquem scents of apricot and orange marmelade, joined by astonishingly delineated notes of coffee, brown sugar, and black tea. The wine also had a bracing freshness that reminded me of being on a ski slope, a compelling intensity that evoked cold air and pine needles. This minty vigor was countervailed by the taste, which was an instruction manual in unmitigated voluptuousness, extra-virgin smooth with a multifaceted finish that kept surprising the senses minutes after the wine was swallowed.  


THE MENU: Dom P, La T, Chateau Y, and a Twinkie

Fromage et Jambon.
Pierre Peters, Rose for Albane NV.
Dom Perignon 2002.
Hudson Valley Foie Gras with Figs.
Leflaive Batard Montrachet 2012.
Baby artichoke tartlet.
Sous vide Beef tenderloin with red wine sauce.
Cauliflower “mashed potatoes”.
Roasted sweet tomatoes.
Spinach Salad with chocolate tomatoes.
DRC La Tache 1996.
DRC La Tache 1959.
Baked Pears with honey and chocolate, yellow raspberries, and homemade marshmallows.
Chateau d’Yquem 1937.

Williams-Sonoma Test Kitchen is the Perfect Place to Teach Champagne Sabering

For a Facebook Live event with Williams-Sonoma last week, Mark Oldman teaches Amanda Haas, Williams-Sonoma’s Director of Culinary, how to saber a bottle of champagne like a total pro. Located at the Williams-Sonoma test kitchen in Northern California, the beautiful space offered the perfect setting for a little saber-training session.  You’ve got to see the video to believe it – Amanda is a natural!

Missed the Live video? You can still get your wine questions answered by leaving a comment!

Williams-Sonoma sabering wine mark oldman

Drizzle Wine on Your Dessert

Drizzle Wine on Your Dessert

The Italians love drowning their gelato in espresso, but why not indulge in my improved and much more intoxicating version of “affogato” at your next dinner party? Sweet wine drizzled on ice cream synergistically creates its own swoon-worthy third flavor.

A killer option is Pedro Ximenez Sherry, which is the sweetest, most syrupy form of sherry (Pedro Ximenez is a grape, not the sherry’s producer).

Because Pedro Ximenez is so dark and sweet, chocolate ice cream is my first choice, but you are free to experiment with other strong flavors such as rum raisin, rocky road, and coffee.

Better yet–there’s no reason why you cannot get drizzly with golden, medium-rich styles of dessert wine, including lighter late-harvest styles, the fortified Muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise from France.

And it’s not just dessert that deserves some wine–there’s also brunch (hair of the dog, anyone?).

In an experiment I tried last year (and which is sure to drive a stake into the heart of every vintage-chart memorizing snob) some friends and I convinced a collector to pour his leftover 1986 Chateau d’Yquem over our pancakes at breakfast one morning. It was a smash hit, and a delightful way to start the day. Try it at your next brunch with friends with whatever dessert wine you have on hand.

For more ways to use wine as a dessert enhancements, order my book, How to Drink Like a Billionaire, and remember to drink bravely, drink richly, and #DrinkLikeABillionaire.