(Posted by Nancie Hemminger)
Thanksgiving is the best holiday of the year. It has many of my favorite things. Food, wine, baking, cooking, football, and good friends and family to share in the elaborate traditional Turkey dinner. This year, due to Covid you may not have to get that extra leaf out for your table and it could be just the excuse you need to avoid a burdensome holiday “obligation”. This year we can make it a celebration of intimate family or close friends in your social pod.
I know that choosing the wine pairings can be daunting for some, but in reality, the “so-called right wine” is really just a wine that you enjoy drinking. There are however some food and wine pairing guidelines for all the culinary nuances we have at the traditional Thanksgiving table.
In the Beginning...
If you are the chef du jour, make sure you have a bottle of chilled bubbly to start your day. Nothing too fancy, a Cava or Prosecco with a splash of orange or guava juice will get your creative juices flowing while that Turkey is basting. When the guests arrive, it’s time to pop the cork on a fancier sparkling. If you’re the guest, be the star with a chilled Champagne in hand for your host. You can never have too many bottles of bubbly!
Meat and Potatoes...
Our traditional Thanksgiving meal has a wide array of dishes, so you may want to have a wide variety of wines on your table. Pinot Noir is The Classic Red Wine to serve with the savory, earthy side dishes and the roasted or smoked turkey. It’s low tannins and mouthwatering acidity will quench the dry roasted flavors on your palate. Other medium-bodied reds will also do the trick. Zinfandel, Grenache, and Gamay (Beaujolais). Some exciting Italian varietals like Brachetto (Scarpa), Refosco or Pignolo or even a youthful Nebbiolo from the Langhe. Avoid Cabernet Sauvignon and other tannic wines that have seen a lot of oak - save them for your next roast beef or steak, but if your dad insists on opening that bottle of Silver Oak he’s been saving, you wouldn’t want to be rude.
Greens and Things...
Have some white wines on hand for the greener things on the table. As with the reds, choose wines that are lighter in body, dry and unoaked. Zesty and herbaceous whites include Albariño from Spain, Grüner Veltliner from Austria, Sancerre, or other Sauvignon Blanc from France. These as well as classic Italian Pinot Grigio will keep your mouth watering for another bite. If Chardonnay is a must for yourself or your guests, go for light oak, and avoid the butter. I recommend a French Chardonnay from Burgundy.
Sweet Sides...We always have a few sweeter side dishes at this time of year. Cornbread stuffing, sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping, glazed carrots, and cranberry sauce to name a few. These dishes pair with aromatic, off-dry style of wines. You could choose Riesling or Gewürtztraminer from France, Germany, or the Finger Lakes in NY. Another excellent pairing is the unique Italian red dry sparkling wine – Lambrusco. Versatile enough to continue to sip with the pumpkin pie.
Dessert...Speaking of pie, and continuing to imbibe… that open bottle of Zinfandel is delicious with a nutty pecan pie or spicy pumpkin or sweet potato pie. The Reisling or Gewürtz can be finished up with the apple pie. But why not open a new bottle for dessert? If you’re like me and want to have my pie and a red wine too, try Amarone, an Italian wine made with dried grapes. Its rich, raisin-like quality will pair with the pies. If you like your dessert in a glass, try Moscato, Banyuls, Vin Santo, Ice Wine, or Sauternes. Port wine is a traditional after-dinner sipper that pairs well with Apple pie, especially if you add some blue cheese crumbles. I’m hungry just thinking about it.
Here are some of my favorites that are on the shelves at Uncorked as of today. Many more will be arriving in the next few weeks, so don’t hesitate to ask one of our knowledgeable staff for their recommendations.
Cune Brut Cava $14.99
Baron Seillac French Sparkling $13.99
Lancelot-Pienne Accord Majeur Brut Champagne $49.99
Billecart-Salmon Brut Rose Champagne $87.99
Monte Pio Albariño $22.99
Dr. Konstantin Frank Gewürztraminer $21.99
Domaine de Sacy Sancerre $23.99
Domaine de la Folie Clos Saint-Jacques Rully 1er Cru $52.99
Vincent Silvershot Vineyard Pinot Noir, Eola-Amity Hills $34.99
Kanzler Estate Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $56.99
Broc Cellars ‘Vine Starr’ Zinfandel, Sonoma $28.99
Scarpa ‘La Selva di Moirano’ Rosso, Dry Brachetto $42.99
Bugno Martino ‘Rosso Matilde’ Lambrusco $18.99
Tezza ‘Brolo delle Giare’ Amarone della Valpolicella $59.99
Dogliotti La Caudrina Moscato d’Asti $16.99
Domaine Pietri-Gerard Banyuls, fortified Grenache $33.99