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What's Up Magazine

Thanksgiving and Wine

Nov 10, 2010 10:45PM ● By Anonymous

The traditional meal in our house consists of the classic turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and green bean casserole to round out the plate. With so many different dishes in one meal it may seem daunting to find a wine that pairs well with everything. But with a little work, you can find some great wines that can handle the variety found in a Thanksgiving dinner.

Sparkling wines are great matches for your turkey dinner, especially if they have a touch of sweetness or at least ample fruit. This allows them to stand up to the spices and herbs that are found in most of the dishes. Try a Champagne or sparkler that is not bone dry. Extra dry styles are the next step up in sweetness. You can find great examples of them in many price ranges, from France or California. My favorite is Italian Prosecco. Made in the Veneto region of northeast Italy, Proseccos have fruit flavors of apple and citrus and many are semisparkling (less bubbly), making them softer as well as food friendly.

There are several white wine grape varieties that have both the fruit and the acid to handle a Thanksgiving feast. My favorites are Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Blanc, and Viognier. You can find great American examples of these and many from France, South Africa, and Australia. If you cannot bear to be without Chardonnay, try a lighter unoaked or unwooded style. There are some great ones coming out of California, Australia, and New Zealand.

Don’t forget red wine. According to recent studies by the Wine Market Council 60 percent of wine drinkers prefer red wine. Fortunately there are several reds that will be a great addition to your Thanksgiving festivities. Pinot Noirs are a great option because they have not only great fruit flavors but also enough acidity to stand up to the salt and acids found in many of the Thanksgiving dishes. Syrah and red Zinfandel are also good choices, with jammy fruit and a touch of spice to complement the flavors on your plate. Great red Zinfandel is a California specialty but for Syrah (aka Shiraz) look for great ones from California, Washington, Oregon, Australia, and France.

To add something new to this year’s dinner, start with a sparkling wine and then serve several wines with the meal. To make things easier on you, ask people to bring a bottle of Sauvignon Blanc, Chenin Blanc, Pinot Noir, or a Syrah, for instance. This makes it easier for the host, and then everyone can compare how the different wines pair with the various side dishes as well as the turkey. It adds a modern twist to your traditional meal!

Try these recession-proof wines with your Thanksgiving feast:

Zardetto Prosecco NV, Veneto, Italy
Made from Prosecco grapes, these sparklers from the Veneto region of Italy are made in a variety of styles from frizzante, which in Italian means slightly sparkling, to fully sparkling like Champagne. Prosecco tends to be fruitier than Champagne or other dry sparklers, making it more accepted by a wide range of wine and beer lovers. Fruity, but dry, this lively wine is the perfect way to start off your Thanksgiving feast. For those of you who like things sweet, add a touch of peach nectar to a Prosecco and you have what’s called a Bellini. Retails for $13.

Matua Sauvignon Blanc, Marlborough, New Zealand

Sauvignon Blanc is crisp and refreshing and goes with so many different dishes, especially salads, appetizers, white meats, and seafood. Some of the best New World Sauvignon Blancs come from New Zealand, specifically the Marlborough region. New Zealand is made up of two islands; Marlborough is in the northern part of the south island. This wine has lively acidity and aromas of herbs, grapefruit, and passion fruit. The fruit flavors, along with its crisp acidity, will help this wine stand up to all your turkey side dishes. Retails for $11.

Lindemans Bin 50 Shiraz, South Australia
Dr. Henry Lindeman founded the winery in 1843 with the belief that the one purpose of wine is to bring happiness. Take one sip of this Shiraz and your whole dinner table will agree! This mouth-filling Shiraz has great blackberry and plum flavors with a wonderful hint of pepper. The jammy fruit in this Shiraz will help it pair nicely with the lean turkey meat and some spicy sausage stuffing. Retails for $8.