Thanksgiving Wines Demystified – My Tips and Strategies
Thinking about Thanksgiving wines can easily give you a headache. With so many flavor profiles on the table, it’s completely understandable. In this post, my goal is to demystify and share several options and strategies that will make your selection of Thanksgiving wines less stressful for sparkling, white, red and dessert wines.
Turkey is actually quite versatile and wine friendly. White wines, even lighter reds are a terrific match, while its dark meat asks for “meatier” reds. The side dishes, stuffing, gravy and the usual trimmings that accompany the meal are what can make choosing Thanksgiving wines seemingly so difficult.
So what to do? Where to begin?
MY thoughts on SELECTING THANKSGIVING WINES
I approach our Thanksgiving wines and dinner with a great deal of flexibly and a sense of adventure. I always have a few tried and true “family favorites”. On the other hand, its a perfect time to experiment – try something you might not otherwise try or buy. If you take this approach, you will quickly realize everyone’s palette is different by the variety of feedback you get from around the table.
SPARKLING WINE: There’s always room for a bit of bubbly…
Serve as an aperitif or the entire dinner. Sparkling wine is a no worries wine, going well with everything on the table. Have lots of it on hand and keep it well chilled!
I will be serving La Marca Prosecco. Our go to bubbly. Bright fruity notes highlighted by pleasant acidity make this wine ideal for any occasion. Light body, bright fruit, maybe just a touch of honeysuckle/lychee (ever so slightly sweet) and lots of tiny bubbles.
Roederer Estate Brut: “This crisp, fruity and citrus-accented wine has plenty of green apple and lemon flavors, brisk bubbles and a clean, tangy finish. A flavor of fresh-baked bread and a softer texture develop with time in the glass.” Wine Enthusiast
Roederer Estate Brut Rose: “Festive and luxurious, with polished orange blossom, strawberry and roasted hazelnut accents that dance on the long finish.” Wine Spectator
Look for a white with well balanced acidity. Rieslings and Un-oaked Chardonnays will be finding their way on to our table.
I will be opening the following…
Reisling: Dr. Loosen “Dr. L” Riesling. This year’s experiment… My memory is it’s juicy citrus flavor profile, slightly off dry (sweet) and delightful acidity. I hope it will work with all that will be on the table…
Chardonnay: Joseph Drouhin Macon Villages. Sorry no sawdust at our table… The wine’s flavor profile is crisp and refreshingly fruity/citrusy and has what I call brightness with a touch of acidity. Every once in a while I think there’s a bit of chalkiness in there, too.
Alternatives… Look for well balanced acidity.
Sauvignon Blanc: Light and crisp, with grassy or herbaceous flavors. Higher acidity.
Pascal Jolivet Sancerre: “Young and racy, this crisp wine is full of white fruits, acidity and herbal flavors, with a bright, light mineral texture. This is textbook Sancerre, lively, fruity and ready to drink.” Wine Enthusiast
Viognier: Floral and fruity, with essences of peach, apricot, and pear. Low acidity.
Yalumba The Y Series Viognier “Musky, melony and spicy, it marries ample weight and breadth with just enough life-giving acidity.” Wine Enthusiast
Look for light-bodied wines with bright fruit. Hints of herbs and spices if possible. No heavy oak please.
I will be opening a Pinot Noir and a Barbera d’Asti.
Pinot Noir: Making a return appearance will be Willamette Valley’s St. Innocent Village Cuvee. Wonderful cherry/dark fruit with undercurrents of earth and spice. Delish! Open a few hours before dinner…
Barbera d’Asti: Another experiment… It’s been awhile since Vietti’s Barbara d’Asti made an appearance at our table. I wonder if it will find happiness so far from home. My memory is of a rich dark ruby color. Cherry/raspberry, slightly earthy flavor prolfile. Wonderful acidity. Light tannins. We’ll open this an hour or two before dinner.
Alternatives… lots of fruit and light tannins.
Zinfandel: Lots of intense, plummy, jammy flavors with spicy or peppery notes.
Cline Old Vines Zinfandel “Intricate smoke and Indian spice aromas give this full-bodied wine a dramatic start before black cherry and blackberry join in on the palate. It has moderate tannins for good grip.” Wine Enthusiast
Beaujolais: Light and dry with fresh, fruity flavors. Serve it slightly chilled.
Georges Deboeuf 2018 Beaujolais “This wine, of course, has plenty of fruitiness with red-berry flavors. But it also has a tannic edge that could allow it to age, an unusual thought for a Nouveau Beaujolais. It will go well with food, even with Thanksgiving turkey.” Wine Enthusiast
If you have room or the inclination, serving a sweet wine with dessert is a real treat. The key is it needs to be as sweet or sweeter than your sweetest dessert. Or, there’s always more sparkling wine… 😉
Sauternes: I’m partial to Sauternes after an out of body experience precipitated by a 20 year old bottle and a slice apple pie and will be opening a 2001 Chateau Coutet. Tasting notes from the web say “orange marmalade, honey, hints of petrol, spice and high toned joyfulness”. Mmmmm….
Riesling Ice Wine: Wagner Riesling Ice Wine “Ripe and rich, featuring peach, mango and nectarine flavors, with hints of orange custard and heather honey. The unctuous finish shows good energy for balance.” Wine Spectator
Tokaji: Chateau Megyer Tokaji Aszu 6 Puttonyos “This is oozing with orange, lemon, apricot and honey flavors with even a hint of peach, yet with so much luscious fruit there is plenty of acidity to keep the sweetness in balance. An elegant beauty with notes of tea, crystallized citrus and caramel. 17% residual sugar.” Total Wine (Rumor has it this wine and chocolate are a good match…)
YOur THANKsGIVING WINES STRATEGIES:
Where do all these options leave us? Several possibilities come to mind.
- Bubbly!!! Serve throughout the entire meal. I’m sure a great time will be had by all.
- You could pair a wine with each course, complicating life for you. It also comes with with the most risk. Start with a sparkler for the appetizers. The salad course would need a white. Switch to a red when the main course is served. Close with the dessert wine. This option opens up the possibly of going a little wild with the place settings. See the place settings post I wrote last year.
- A safer bet would be to manage the free for all by offering a white and a red over the course of the meal.
- I’m taking the Smorgasbord Approach, giving our guests options and choices depending on their tastes and sense of adventure throughout the entire meal. Sure we end up with unfinished bottles of wine at the end of the meal. No big deal. Put the cork back in the bottle and serve with tomorrow’s left overs!
- PLEASE DRINK RESPONSIBLY!!!
Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday, my friends!
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