Thanksgiving Day is the ultimate challenge. In my family, the Thanksgiving meal is served by passing the bowl and scooping up mass amounts of side dishes, followed by the massive serving dish of turkey and the vat of gravy to cover it all. Mashed potatoes & gravy, cranberries, fresh biscuits, green bean casserole, sweet potatoes, wild rice--good luck pairing a wine with this plate full of turkey day goodness. Many families scattered across the country will have a bottle of pinkish liquid in a gallon jug; that won’t due for me. Simply put, the purpose of pairing food with wine is to enhance your dining experience. The wine should enhance the food and the food should enhance the wine, creating a symbiotic relationship that improves both.
I’m a fan of Zinfandel with ripe flavor and dark color. That just won’t work here; neither will a Cabernet or a very acidic Sauvignon Blanc. A better choice is a balanced, lower alcohol wine with a level acidity. No big tannins, too green or ripe. Try these new options for pairing a wine with Thanksgiving dinner:
- Champagne and sparkling wine! This is a fantastic option to go with this huge meal! The higher acidity in the wine lets it pair with heavier, starchier foods like potatoes and turkey with dressing. The low alcohol doesn’t over-exert itself and mask the flavors of the food. The best benefit, the bubbles themselves are a nice palate cleanser when you decide to change side dishes.
- Pinot Noir is another nice choice. Pinot is so versatile and most will not overpower the food with sharp dark flavors. There are some bigger Pinots out there with higher alcohol levels; you might want to avoid those.
- Rosé: Now don’t call me a soulless human being. Think pink… Rosés can make a great wine pairing for Thanksgiving. Most quality Rosés have a nice non-tannic, fresh fruitiness to them. Rosé wines are not all sweet! I’m not talking about white Zin! Many well-known wineries are producing bone-dry rosés made from different red grapes, creating a wonderful dry fruitiness.
Now head to the wine cellar and see what you have… Don't feel limited with these selections if they don't blend with your palate, they are just some suggestions to help you with pairing a wine with your Thanksgiving. You can always fall back on the usual drier Rieslings’ or Gewurtsminier. When in doubt, hit your local quality wine shop and start asking questions...