Uncorking The Best Wines for Thanksgiving
Wines for Thanksgiving
If you’re anything like my family, Thanksgiving starts at about 11 a.m. when the Detroit Lions host their annual Turkey Day football game. This year, they host my hometown Chicago Bears so the wines of choice have some extra importance to them as my house will be filled early with die-hard Bear fans.
Start with the bubbles
Typically, this is when all the appetizers come out and consist of shrimp cocktail, summer sausage, and some sort of cheese platter. Pair these appetizers with bubbles that is something relatively light and refreshing. I suggest Ruinart Blanc de Blanc made from 100% Chardonnay. This Champagne will provide an amazing acidity to go with the previously mentioned apps and just about anything else you decide to munch on while watching whatever football game and the team the household is rooting for to win.
While you’re cooking:
Move onto the Beaujolais Nouveau
Most scenes in a Thanksgiving kitchen have multiple family members cooking and chatting the day away. The other family members seem to continuously walk through the kitchen stealing a taste while mom shouts, ‘Hey!’ for each passing thief. I can’t help think of the dad in “A Christmas Story” sneaking a taste of turkey while mom yells, ‘it’s not done cooking.’
This is the perfect time to break out something light and easy. I can’t think of a better (and fun) wine than a Beaujolais Nouveau. Made from the Gamay grape, this wine is super easy to drink as the “grapey bubblegum” red wine goes down like water. Check out a very affordable option from Louis Jadot. I’d even recommend dropping a tiny bit in the cranberry sauce.
Cooking a turkey can be intense. From traditional oven baking it to smoking it all day, and even a deep-fried turkey has the foodie nation going wild. A complete game changer is, when it comes to pairing wine with the turkey, finding yourself drenching it in gravy, which adds richness to the dish.
If I may dare say, pair your turkey with a California Chardonnay. Not many Sommeliers choose this type of wine, but I encourage giving it a try. The Chardonnay is rich in body and flavor and usually completed with a hint of cream and butter. I consider California Chardonnays to be a perfect pairing when matching it with turkey and gravy and if I had to choose, I’d pair it with the 2016 Ridge Estate from the Santa Cruz Mountains in California.
Don’t forget the sides:
Move onto the red wines
Mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and whatever else the family enjoys to make it can be quite a daunting task when finding one wine to pair with it all. The one thing all these dishes have in common is a sense of earth. I suggest finding a delicious red wine that might be able to match the earthiness and weight of the majority of these dishes.
While many wines do well here, my favorite is Chateauneuf-Du-Pape. The blends are predominantly made with the Grenache varietal and offer an earth (or non-fruit elements) and power (full bodied) not often seen elsewhere. The weight of the wine will hold up well to the richness of the sides and the earthiness will be an additive to a perfectly paired wine. My personal favorite comes from the produce Vieux Telegraphe.
Complete the meal with a Tawny Port
If a food coma has not come about by now, pumpkin pie might be the popular choice for dessert, which means it is time to bring out the Tawny Port. Graham’s 20-year tawny is not only affordable but also delicious providing nuts, raisins, caramel, walnuts, and additional flavor notes. All of which would also be flavors you wouldn’t mind to complement with a piece of pumpkin pie. I’d even recommend drizzling a bit on top of the pie and sit back and relax.
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