Thanksgiving dinner, I started to ponder the choice of wines to serve. For some reason, picking the Thanksgiving meal wines has escalated to the scale of a difficult and daunting task. This does not have to be so. It should be an enjoyable exercise. With so many different dishes and flavors to work with, it is easy to understand why people fret about the wine. Well don’t. You don’t have to find the perfect wine for each dish. Here are a few simple guidelines, which should help.
5 Tips for Choosing Thanksgiving Wine
- Be realistic – the bigger the gathering the less likely you are to please everyone. And that is okay! After all, Thanksgiving is most importantly about having friends and family together.
- Keep it simple. Go for food friendly wines. Avoid overly big or powerful wines that might overwhelm the food.
- Stick to your budget – As Thanksgiving gatherings tend to be large, the cost of the wine is sure to be a concern. You don’t have to spend over $20 a bottle to get a really good wine. Again, this could be the occasion to try that bag-in-box.
- Sparkling wine is always a great way to start the celebrations. Champagne is always a winner, but there are many less expensive options to choose from as well. Staying close to the Champagne style, you might opt for a good Traditional Method Californian sparkling wine. Alternatively, Cava from Spain, or a Prosecco from Italy are delightful, and less expensive options.
- White wines that have good acidity, bright fruit and not overly oaked are the most versatile at the table. Aromatic wines or off-dry wines are very accommodating, as they pair with the more difficult tart flavors like cranberry, chutney and spices.
Thanksgiving White WinesHere are some suggestions that I think work:
- Albariño – aromatic, with crisp acidity, fruit, versatility across the meal
- Pinot Grigio – both the lighter fruity ‘Pinot Grigio’ style as well as the more full bodied and textured ‘Pinot Gris’ style
- Riesling – aromatic variety. The breadth of dry, off-dry and sweet styles makes Riesling a natural choice for Thanksgiving
- Gewürztraminer – Intensely aromatic and often a hard wine to place, but is perfect for the stuffing, cranberry sauce, chutneys and spicy sides
- Unoaked (or lightly oaked) Chardonnay – can carry you right through from drinks to the turkey.
Thanksgiving Red WinesFor reds, go for wines that are refreshing, fruity and not too tannic. It is no secret that Pinot Noir has long been the preferred partner for Turkey. Alternatives might include:
- Gamay – fresh, light and fruity. Light enough for appetizers and yet can carry through the main course
- Zinfandel – great brambly-berry fruit, and lowish tannin, that will enhance any Turkey and all its trimmings
- Syrah – similar dark red and black fruit and notes will enhance any meat course