This is the time of year when newspapers, magazines and food shows recommend wines for Thanksgiving. Why? Almost everyone wants to serve wine with this meal, and there are boatloads of people who don’t drink wine on a regular basis looking for guidance. Advice abounds because there are no pat answers on wine pairings with the multitude of flavors in this traditional meal. Consider the possible options:
Turkey: Roasted, Smoked or Deep-Fried?
Stuffing: Cornbread with Sausage, or Oysters, or Chestnuts?
Sides: Green Beans, Candied Yams, Sugared Cranberries?
Surely I’ve left something out, but you get the idea. This cornucopia of flavors, predicated on the preparation preferences of the family, is bewildering for the wine-pairer. My advice? Don’t opt for one wine, serve several. Set three glasses at each place setting, one for each of the categories below, and let the family members select and pour. In effect, a wine tasting. Here are some recommendations:
White Wine: Pinot Gris– This is the Pinot Grigio grape, but vinified as a more serious wine. It’s similar to Chardonnay in weight, but with ripe peach and apricot notes. The style is round and rich, with low acidity. Look to Oregon producers like Eyrie Vineyards, Archery Summit or Lemelson. For the wine geek in your family, you might consider a Pinot Gris from the Alsace region of France. Look to Zind-Humbrecht or Trimbach.
Medium-bodied Reds – Two choices: Goldeneye Pinot Noir from California’s Anderson Valley in Mendocino County. I find this to be a nicely balanced expression of Pinot Noir. For the Francophiles in your family, a second choice is Morgan from Cote de Py in Beaujolais. This is not your candied, grocery store Beaujolais; it is denser, richer and elegant. Jean Foillard and Duboeuf’s Cuvee Jean Descombes are two of the best.
Full-bodied Red – for a purely American choice, go with Zinfandel. I recommend Ridge Vineyards’ Geyserville and Lytton Springs. Each is a blend, but Zinfandel dominates. If you are pouring a recent vintage, I would recommend decanting the wine beforehand to allow it to open up.
With the diversity of flavors and levels of sweetness in this traditional dinner, no single wine can be the best pairing. Serving a variety of grapes and wine styles will enliven both the meal and the conversation.
Best wishes for a great Holiday dinner. In view of all that is going on in the world, we, in this country, have much to be thankful for. All the best!