Thanksgiving is upon us, which means we’ll all be gathering around the table to enjoy turkey, stuffing, cranberries and other lovely side dishes. Wine is a Thanksgiving must! Not to say you need the wine to get through your family gathering or anything (or maybe you do), but wine and Thanksgiving fare is such a fun match.
There are a few wines that folks seem to think are the “standards” for Turkey day. As these wines are fine, there are more grape varietals besides Riesling and Beaujolais Nouveau to pair along with your feast. The first thing is that you really are not pairing wine with the turkey. They turkey seems like the main event, but it’s really all about the sides. Stuffing alone wins the show for some. There are so many takes on stuffing; it makes the wine pairing fun. Some folks put nuts and apples in their stuffing, some like my family use sage sausage and it’s to die for. Then you’ve got the green bean casserole, cranberries, brussels sprouts with bacon and maybe even mashed potatoes. The side dishes are heavier and rich. You want a wine that not only goes well with Tom Turkey, but with these mouth watering heavy accompaniments.
Here are a few grape varietals that are bound to wow your taste buds this Thanksgiving.
Before dinner: Giving suggestions for appetizers is tough, because not everyone has wine prior to dinner. But a standard winner is a lighter brut bubbly. Gruet Brut from New Mexico, yes you heard me, NEW MEXICO, is a fabulous brut to sip on while munching on those apps. Dry with green apple and citrus. $13.99 at Total Wine & More
The main event: For the folks who prefer white wines, this is an easy area. Of course you can crack open a Riesling, which is going to be lighter bodied and pair well with heavy foods. Chateau Ste Michelle has two great Rieslings that would please folks who like a lighter wine. The first Riesling is crisp and refreshing with elegant apricot and grapefruit. The Dry Riesling has a nicely balanced acidity which can stand up to those heavy dishes. Chateau Ste Michelle Riesling $7.47 and the Dry Riesling is $8.99 at Total Wine & More – Safeway $10
Living in Virginia there is a good chance you’ve been to a local winery, which means there is a good chance you have tasted a Viognier, which is a French grape, but Virginia does it very well. While there are a ton of fabulous Viogniers from Virginia, like King Family Vineyards, Barboursville and Trump, but they can be a bit difficult to find in the area. A solid substitute is one from California, Bonterra Viognier, which runs about $11 at Total Wine and has a great balanced acidity with crisp fruit. A little dry, but not leathery dry.
Chardonnay. We always have a Chardonnay on the table during Thanksgiving. One is particular is always Sonoma – Cutrer. Subtle oak, crisp pear, apple with lemon on the finish. Medium bodied with a nice acidity. Pairs great with the heavier richer foods. $12.99 at Total Wine & More and as much as $20 elsewhere.
Chateau Ste Michelle is always a winner. This Washington State wine is smooth with a touch of spiciness. This is great with that Turkey and Stuffing. Apple and pear with a creamy finish $8 at Total Wine & More $7.47 at Costco – Safeway $12-14
On to the Reds: Beaujolais Nouveau is young and fruity and lacking tannins. If you like a light fruity red, this is for you.
Another staple red is Pinot Noir. It is lighter bodied with great fruit. Le Colline Pinot Noir is an Italian Pinot that is perfect for Thanksgiving. A hit last year at our table, this Pinot has a lot to offer. Silky and smooth with red berries, medium bodied with soft tannins. Great with not only the Turkey, but the sides as well. $9.99 Total Wine & More
Finally, Zinfandel. Low in tannins, jammy and smooth, a great pair with the rich sides. Joel Gott Zin has nice blackberry and spice on the nose and palate. Medium Bodied. 7 Deadly Zins, Gnarly Head Zin, Murphy Goode Zin are all good Zins you can find in Safeway, Costco, Trader Joe’s and Total Wine ranging from $7-15
It is always good to have a selection of wine at holiday gatherings. Not everyone fancies a Riesling or Beaujolais – so don’t be a Turkey, provide options for your guests. Then they’ll be thanks giving to you!