Cheers To You

An exploration of all things wine with local wine expert Mary Earl.
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A wine tasting treat for the Thanksgiving table

November 16th, 2012 by brynn grimley

Thanksgiving dinner is filled with many dishes that, taken separately, would pair with as many wines as there are dishes.

Our advice: have your guests bring a favorite bottle and make a tasting out of it. Try different things and most important of all, have fun.

The holiday feast is filled with traditional dishes that Mom made and Grandma before her. Mary’s home had the Midwestern specialties: sage and onion dressing, mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, Brussell sprouts, rutabaga, candied yams, creamed onions and peas, cranberries, mincemeat and pumpkin pies.

Brynn’s home had her father’s interpretation of a Bon Appétit article from the 1970s — sage and thyme seasoned stuffing made from bread dried the day before, Marsala wine gravy, caramelized onions, mashed potatoes, a cranberry, apple, grape and pecan salad held together with whipping cream, a turkey cooked on a rotisserie grill and crusty bread to soak all the juices up.

There are many wines that marry well with a traditional turkey dinner, but the best choice is a wine that will please most of the people at your table.

If you’re considering a red wine steer toward ones that are fruity and tangy with acidity. The more acidic the wine, the more your mouth waters. But these types of wines are also simple, easy-drinking and pair better with food than high alcohol, tannic wines.

If you’re looking for wines this year, here’s our recommendation:

Starter: Kick off the celebration with a sparkling wine to set a festive mood. There are plenty of domestic and imported versions that could set you back a bit and it’s hard to go wrong, but if you’re entertaining a couple of dozen people grab a Spanish cava. They range in price from $8 to $12. Or better yet, ask a couple of guests to bring along a bottle of Cristalino. As a colorful twist, add a dollop of cranberry juice. Very festive.

Dinner: Turkey is like chicken, it will pair well with white, red or rosé wine. So, go for it and encourage guests to bring a favorite. Just like when eating the meal, slow down to enjoy and smell the wines. Experience the different flavors with the different dishes. Don’t worry about Uncle Bob who insists on only drinking a pinot noir with his turkey — just smile and say “uh-huh.”

Remember, the rule of thumb is serving a wine with a lot of acidity and plenty of fruit. Acidity makes it work with earthy side dishes and the fruit always gives a bit of brightness.

Pinot Gris, especially from Alsace, is right up there with the world’s most food-friendly wines. Trimbach and Albrecht are two brands that are fairly easy to find.

A chardonnay would pair nicely with Ann Vogel’s roasted sweet potato dish. We recommend an unoaked chardonnay with crisp apple and tropical fruit flavors and a hint of spice. Tart apple flavor will be best with this dinner. Choose the perennial favorites: Kendall-Jackson, Columbia Crest, or Duck Pond.

Pinot noir is a favorite match to cranberries and turkey. Anything from Santa Barbara, like Taz for around $15, would work. Also Oregon’s Argyle Winery with its seamless fruit, spice and balance, would be a nice selection.
Zinfandel, an all American grape, is Mary’s personal favorite for the occasion, with its jammy fruit and crisp acidity. Suggestions include: Marietta, Cline and Ravenswood.

Offering a tasting at the table should satisfy all palates and make for one happy Thanksgiving.

Cheers to You!

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One Response to “A wine tasting treat for the Thanksgiving table”

  1. AndrewM Says:

    Lemberger, Petite Syrah, Beaujolais nouveau or the deprecated Gamay Beaujolais are my favs – soft young fruity reds. Guests are surprised they like because “they don’t like reds”.

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