Fine Wine & Good Spirits Wine Specialist: Kayleigh Thompson

Kayleigh Thompson has worked with the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) since 2009.

In 2015, she earned the Certified Specialist of Wine designation after completing a self-study program through the Society of Wine Educators. She started working at the King of Prussia Fine Wine & Good Spirits Premium Collection store in 2015 and currently coordinates product education seminars with industry professionals, teaches wine and spirits classes to employees, and writes posts for the PLCB’s employee education blog. In addition, she pens quarterly articles on wine for County Lines Magazine in Chester County.

What are your go-to suggestions for the following local varietals from your store? 

Dry red: Clover Hill Cabernet Sauvignon

Dry white: Blue Mountain Riesling

Spicy red: Clover Hill Chambourcin

Sweeter white: Clover Hill Niagara

Fruit-forward white: Paradocx Vineyard Whitewash (Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Vidal Blanc)

Dessert wine: Crossing Vineyards Chocolate Cherry Truffle

With the holidays coming up, customers will be thinking about holiday dishes. What would you suggest as an unexpected Pennsylvania wine pairing for Thanksgiving dishes as well as for hearty holiday dishes?

I love serving mead at holiday parties. It goes nicely with some of the sweeter side dishes like sweet potatoes. The Colony Meadery in Allentown makes some great mead. Their “Straight, No Chaser Mead” is a traditional semi-sweet mead made from orange blossom honey, with no added flavors. It has a subtle citrus character, with floral and honey notes carrying through to the finish. Their “Woofiedog Mead” is a dry mead infused with hops.

Blue Mountain Riesling is off-dry and really versatile; it pairs well with turkey, stuffing, and all kinds of holiday dishes. Paradocx Vineyard’s T Wine is a semi-sweet white subtly infused with tea, an unusual pairing that works well. Sand Castle Alpine Spice — warm with autumnal spices and apple flavors — is excellent served warm with pecan or pumpkin pie.

Do you have favorite local meats, cheeses, or other foods that you enjoy pairing with specific PA wines? In your opinion, which foods go best with which PA wines?

St. Malachi from The Farm at Doe Run in Coatesville is an extra-long-aged Gouda with killer butterscotch notes. Try it with Clover Hill Cabernet Sauvignon.

What PA wine would you recommend as a gift and why?

Karamoor Chardonnay 2013.  It’s more Chablis in style than California, with eight months of aging sur lie, which means the wine finishes on yeast lees, which adds depth and complexity to the flavors. It goes very well with white meats or pasta in cream-based sauces.

What are your favorite PA budget, mid-range, or special occasion wines?

Blue Mountain Victoria’s Passion is a sweet, great-value red — the winemaker designed it for his wife. A’Dello Winery Chardonel is another great mid-range bottle.

What are a few go-to local, seasonal varietals?

I love to drink port in the winter, and Crossing Vineyard’s Chocolate Cherry Truffle is a great port-style wine with distinct cherry and chocolate coming through in the rich, dark fruit flavors.

Chaddsford Spring Wine is fruity (pineapple, peach, citrus) and pairs perfectly with spring weather.

What is your advice for someone new to exploring local wines?

Visit a winery or tasting room and try a wide variety of wines. Some tasting rooms hold wine and food pairing classes where they pair wines with small plates (including seasonal treats like chocolate around Valentine’s Day). These experiences are educational, fun, and delicious. They’ll help you discover the style of Pennsylvania wine you like best, so you can begin exploring other wines that fit that category. The right food pairing really enhances the flavor and enjoyment of wine, so learning more about what works well with local wines can maximize your experience.

Depending on the winery, you might be able to tour the vineyard or the barrel room. Getting to see the grapes growing and the winemaking processes in person is not only fun but also helps you better understand everything that goes into making wine.

Many wineries in Pennsylvania are small, family-owned operations, so you can feel good about supporting them.

You can meet Kayleigh at the following Fine Wine & Good Spirits store location:

Fine Wine & Good Spirits
Premium Collection Store 4624
125 W Dekalb Pike
King of Prussia, PA 19406

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