As I take my first sip of Our Wine of the Week, Edmeades 2001 Mendocino County Zinfandel ($10), threads of smoke from last night's wood fires, the first of the season, linger in the chilly morning air and mirror a seductive smoky quality in the wine. This is an ideal wine for fall and winter, a fine brawny match with bone-warming foods, from bread and sausage salad and Teriyaki chicken wings to slow-cooked stews and roasted root vegetables seasoned with earthy spices like allspice, clove and star anise.
The wine's pleasing acidity calls to mind fresh, juicy rhubarb. There is a ripe chewiness to the wine, a gamy quality, each bite infused with rich berry and concentrated cherry flavors. Think of sausage made of boar that lived almost exclusively on wild berries: that's this wine. Braised wild-boar sausages with lentils is a great pairing. Venison and oil-cured olives would also work well.
There is a voluptuous quality, too, and a bit of sweet heat from the wine's alcohol, which edges near 15 percent. This quality suggests the wine will pair beautifully with slow-cooked shanks — goat, lamb and beef — served over something rich and earthy, creamy polenta, say, mashed potatoes or potato-parsnip puree.
For today's recipe, I've taken inspired from a Hawaiian dish, turkey cooked in the style of kalua pig. Although kalua pig is traditionally cooked in an underground pit, it is not practical to do so for a relatively small amount of meat. Oven versions of both kalua pig and kalua turkey are quite common. I recommend not using a whole turkey, as I think thigh meat turns out better than breast with this method. At this time of year, it is easy to find turkey thighs in most markets. Ti leaves are available in many Asian markets.
Kalua-Style Turkey Thighs with Sweet Potatoes
Makes 6 to 8 servings
3 to 4 bone-in, skin-on turkey thighs
— Liquid smoke
— Hawaiian or kosher salt