Thanksgiving marks the beginning of an extended period of parties and celebrations. It is a time of year that brings together family and friends from near and far to celebrate just being together and being grateful. So by now, your menu is set, your tablescape planned, your centerpiece in place. With just a few days remaining, it is time to pick out your wines. Wine pairing can be difficult on Thanksgiving due to the variety of foods, flavors, aromas, and textures being served. The menu may be a mélange of dishes that consist of dark meats, light meats, some savory, some sweet, some rich and creamy, and some light.
If you follow a few simple rules, picking wines does not have to be so daunting. First off when deciding what wines to serve Thanksgiving Day, keep in mind there will be lots of drinking all day long so it is best not to pop open your Grand Cru Burgundy or prized Champagne. Second, most likely you are serving a large group, so try to find wines under $30. Third, it is fine to have both white and red wines. Lastly, keep in mind to buy low alcohol wines, since the drinking usually starts early in the day and may not stop even when the clock strikes twelve.
These four wines are ideal for a Thanksgiving menu. Have a variety of these four wines and let your guests decide what they would prefer with their meal.
Sparkling wine: The perfect way to start the day would be with sparkling wine. Sparkling wines are typically lower in alcohol and thus great to start drinking earlier in the day. They go wonderfully with light appetizers, cheeses, and even the main course. Sparkling wines also complement traditional Thanksgiving desserts like pumpkin pies, pecan pies, and apple cobblers. Fill your guest’s glasses with sparkling wine as soon as they enter the home, it will immediately put them in the festive mood.
Riesling: My favorite white wine for Thanksgiving is a dry or off-dry Riesling. The acidity, crispness, minerality, and depth of a Riesling are so versatile that it pairs wonderfully with a variety of dishes. Rieslings pair perfectly with turkey breasts, yams, sweet potatoes and a variety of vegetables prepared with fresh herbs. Rieslings from Alsace and Germany would be a perfect choice.
Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir would be splendid for those guests that prefer a light red wine that has pronounced fruit and acidity. Pinot Noir pairs well with traditional Thanksgiving turkey, ham, stuffing and mashed potatoes. Pinot Noirs from Oregon or Burgundy are some of the best.
Syrah: For those guests that prefer a big, bold, full-bodied wine, Syrah is a perfect choice. If serving heartier meat dishes or richer foods, Syrah is the perfect pairing. The white pepper and earthy notes in Syrahs make it a great pairing with turkey or a holiday lamb roast or a rich creamy plate of mac and cheese. Syrahs from cool climate regions will complement well, especially those coming from Northern Rhone or Washington State.
The holidays can be stressful but picking wines should not be. Thanksgiving may be all about the turkey, but your guests will truly appreciate and give thanks for a thoughtful wine selection.