Thanksgiving is a special time for sharing and wine has an important role on the dinner table as well as bringing together friends and family.  When is a great conversation lubricator and food enhancer.  As a host, there are many approaches to consider regarding your choices for a bottle, but more likely bottles,  of wine for the Thanksgiving dinner table.  Some great, and somewhat easy, ways to pick a great pair for Thanksgiving dinner include sticking to the tried and true grape varietals that compliment flavors that are typically on the table, having a theme for the dinner that leads to a wine choice, and most importantly, choosing more than one wine to drink with dinner.
     Let’s start with full proof grape varietals.  For at the Thanksgiving table I stick to the tried and true wines.
Chardonnay:  Nothing pairs better with all the creaminess and richness of mash potatoes and turkey better than Chardonnay.  Try to pick one with full or partial malolactic fermentation and a little oak aging.  This makes the wine creamier and complements all the fat and butter on the table.  This is called a mirror pairing.  Chardonnay can also have great acidity to keep it from becoming overbearing.  My top pick would be a Dierberg from Santa Rita Hills, or a Paulmeyer from Napa Valley.
Pinot Noir- Many Pinot Noirs on the market are overrated and cost way too much. Granted, really not the grapes fault here.  The movie Sideways boomed the market for Pinot in the central coast and designated the Merlot market to the abyss.  Very sad news for this writer.  There are still great finds out there.  Be on the look out for for affordable wines from the Santa Rita Hills AVA, Sonoma Coast, or Willamette Valley of Oregon.  Pinot Noir is fabulous with Thanksgiving because it is just heavy enough to handle turkey’s dark meat but acidic enough to cut through much of the fat on the table. Look for a pinot that showcases some earthy and herb notes. I don’t know about you but there is always mushrooms in my stuffing.
Grenache- Starting to gain some following in the US as a stand alone wine and not just blended into a GSM. By nature, Grenache can have lots of baking spice notes and can be very fruit forward and full bodied regardless of their inherent light color.  Many Grenaches can be a perfect pair with many of the spices that are used with Thanksgiving Day cooking.  Just as a tip, look for a Grenache that comes from a cooler climate.  This will ensure that the wine has enough acidity to cut through the inherent richness of Thanksgiving dinner. I prefer Majestic Oak Vineyard Rancho Del Prado Grenache.
Bubbles- Hands down the easiest wine to pair with food. With Thanksgiving, I would stick to a CAVA or a Percecco.  Don’t overthink the choice here. Bubbles not only pair with many of the days common flavors, but they also scream out “Celebrate!” People are always in a better mood when there is sparkling wine on the table.  
     Another trick that I love to do is having two wine glasses on the table during dinner.  One for a white and the other for your red so you can match your wine to each bite. Sounds a little strange but it works. Had my friends try this last year for our “Friendsgiving” and it was a hit.  This not only takes a little of the pairing pressure off, but it is also fun to play with the many pairing combinations and possibilities.
        Lastly, having a theme really helps guests get excited and gives them a task into looking for a wine, not just bringing some off the shelf store wine.    Let’s be honest, it’s going to take more than a couple bottles to keep the party going, the conversations flowing, and cope with all the shenanigans that go with having the whole family at one table.  Giving everybody the responsibility of choosing a bottle to revolve around a theme kills multiple birds with one stone.  There is more conversation lubrication, everybody gets a chance to talk about there wine and why they chose it, and the theme twiddles down the choices which takes the pressure off.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.