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Sip & Savor: Wines Fit for a Feast

Nov 10, 2015 03:00PM ● By Cate Reynolds
November, marks the fabulous American feast of Thanksgiving. If you are like many of us, thoughts of entertaining family and friends are on your mind. With the meal planned, you, of course, have to decide just which wines to serve your guests. Don’t let your insecurities about pairing food and wine put you in a panic. You all know the most basic rule, white wine with fish and chicken and red wine with meat. Generally speaking, these are sound maxims.

However, the variety of flavors to be found in white varietals alone is amazing. Throw red wines in the mix and here is where the anxiety begins. When you come right down to it, all you really want to know is “What should I serve with Thanksgiving turkey?”

Our choices for Thanksgiving wines are those that display good fruit and nice acidity. You can serve either white or red wines with your turkey dinner. The riot of sweet, savory, and spicy foods that make up the traditional Thanksgiving feast can be paired with many wines.

Start With Sparkling

We’re going to start our celebration with a real treat and pop the cork on a bottle of sparkling wine. To keep the national holiday theme going, start with a delightful California sparkler. Sparkling wines pair so very well with turkey and most traditional Thanksgiving dishes that they can be served throughout the meal.

White Wine Choices

If you want to serve white wine with dinner, offer a Chardonnay but also include a variety of other white wines from which your guests can choose. We suggest you try a clean, crisp refreshing Sauvignon Blanc. The crisp acidity and slightly herbal flavors really complement the holiday bird and trimmings, especially the herb flavors in your stuffing.

Aromatic whites, like Pinot Grigio, Pinot Gris, and Pinot Blanc, pair well with the typical holiday feast. All three varieties are descendants of the red Pinot Noir grape. A pale, dry crisp Pinot Grigio from Oregon or Italy, or a lively, dry, super-rich Pinot Gris from Alsace with rich flavors of apricots or peaches would truly make a perfect aperitif wine and would also drink well through dinner.

You can’t miss if you serve a German Riesling or a heady, aromatic Gewurztraminer from California or Alsace. The minerally apple or apricot flavors of German Rieslings are fabulous with turkey and dressing. These wines are the perfect alternate choice for the White Zinfandel drinkers at your table, those who prefer a slightly sweeter style of wine.

The great aromatics and stone fruits associated with gewurtraminers go well with the dark, savory notes in most Thanksgiving meals.

Red Wine Choices

If, to satisfy yourself or your guests, you want to include a red wine in your wine choices, your best bets are young, fruity, low tannin red wines. Selections from this category of red wines will not overwhelm your main course—that lovely, delicious bird.

Pinot Noir from California or Oregon is the classic red wine choice to serve with poultry or white meats. The classic grape variety of Burgundy produces wines that are elegant and graceful, fruity with a rich mélange of red berry flavors and slightly earthy or woodsy undertones. Pinot Noir is the number one perfect red to complement your holiday meal.

Another excellent red wine choice with Thanksgiving dinner is Beaujolais or Beaujolais-Villages. These wines are fruity and soft, a perfect pairing with turkey and side dishes that contain fruit. The trendy Beaujolais Nouveau wines that are released on the third Thursday of November are a perfect choice to add to the Thanksgiving table. Light, fresh and grapey, this is a red wine everyone loves.

Your best option is to offer a variety of wines for your guests to choose from. This way the guests who only drink white wines and those who only drink reds will each have a wine selection to match their preferences and you will win the “World’s Best Host and Hostess” award.

—Chris Lawson of Fishpaws Marketplace