2009 Swanson Pinot Grigio, California; $22
This is a true California pinot grigio, keeping some of the Old World style and adding loads of New World influences. The aromas were out of this world -- layers of white peach and ripe lemon notes. The flavors were perfect. Notes of crisp peach, vanilla and pear were terrifically balanced with the acidity of citrus notes. The finish allowed all of the sweet, ripe fruit notes to slowly dissipate with the crispness showing through. The acidity keeps the wine fresh and lively with each sip, making it a true food wine. It would be g reat with crab, chicken or lobster dishes. And it would work very well with turkey.
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Russian Standard Vodka Silver, Russia; $30
This is one of the few vodkas still produced in Russia, not one of the breakaway regions. It has a crisp and very clean nose, with no artificial or harsh aromas. The flavors are true vodka, starting off with a smooth, clean almost vanilla-like taste. Then on the finish the heat and mineral notes that I always associate with vodka come through. There are two camps of vodka lovers: one that looks for vodkas so smooth that you have none of the warmth and grain or potato notes present, and one that favors the more aggressive style with the heat and mineral qualities. This Silver is definitely more aggressive and absolutely delicious.
Lain Bradford is a wine writer and reviewer who has achieved his first level master sommelier certificate and is working toward his Certified Wine Educator degree. He only writes about beverages that are available in South Carolina and Georgia. Follow him on Twitter under the name "winereview."