I really love Thanksgiving. Might be my favorite holiday of the year. There are lots of reasons this might be the case... The fact that I love Fall evenings, that I find the food comforting or that I've always found so much to be thankful for. This year will be no different.
Of course, over the last many years, I get asked frequently about what might be the perfect wine pairing for these traditional meals. Seems like a good subject for this blog post. So, for those of you like me who wait till the last minute to decide, I offer you the following suggested varietals.
Let me preface this by saying that, while these may be traditional meals, they can hardly be described as conventional. We have a little of everything here. Savory cranberry, herb driven entrée, sweet deserts... You name it. So the wines here run the full gamut... white, rose and red.
CHARDONNAY...Yes, I know, there are many of you who laugh at the mere suggestion of a Chardonnay. All I can keep telling you is that I sympathize with the fact that you have been exposed to a lot of bad Chardonnay over the years, but get over it. There is a reason why it is the most widely planted grape in the world. Why some of the most expensive and collectible wines are Chards and why wine insiders keep recommending it. And it is the most perfect white for Thanksgiving.
RIESLING...Make sure it is a dry Riesling, or off-dry at best. Nothing sweet here. But the wonderful stone fruit flavors and aromas will pair wonderfully with most of your meal. Find one with some nice, crisp acidity.
PINOT GRIS... You want to be a little cautious here. Not a perfect pairing,but find the right one (probably from the Willamette Valley) with a little body and some nice citrus notes and you might just have a winner. Don't over chill it, though.
Rosé OF PINOT NOIR... An obvious choice. Over the past few years, the rose at my thanksgiving dinner has proven to be the most popular wine of the day. (Aside from the Bubbly, of course!). Versatile, flavorful, balanced, aromatic.... The good reasons to serve a nice, slightly chilled rose as your go to wine are endless. And Pinot is perfect.
Rose du PROVANCE ... Ok, so if you can't just quite find that Pinot Rose you had your heart set on, go with one from Provance. Those folk in the South of France know how to make magical light wines from Grenache and Syrah especially. A great pairing.
PINOT NOIR... I don't think it is possible for me to ever do a dinner that does not include a Pinot Noir as a pairing. And if you don't get it, we'll just keep trying. You will.
There simply is not a more perfect varietal out there.
BEAUJOLAIS... Well it is Nouveau time, and that would work. But a nice bottle of something more vintage worthy would be better. I think that Gamay is a very under appreciated grape and there is no better time of the year to fix that than right now.
GRENACHE... If you are looking for something bigger (though I don't know why you would be), I'd go Grenache. It has the right fruit profile and acidity for this food... Just with a whole lot more substance. I would sure do this instead of the usual Cabernet, Merlot or Syrah choices.
So there you have it. Quite the range, right? But that's the thing about holiday meals. There is such a variety of food that finding that one, universally perfect wine match is a challenge. Any one of the wines listed above will work well with the entire meal. Or you can do what I do, have a little of each as the meal progresses. And, to be sure, everything here starts and ends with Bubbly. Literally!
Just remember, you have a lot to be thankful for. Family, friends. You will never have a better chance to let them know it. And you might as well raise a glass to those not there. I will.
Happy Thanksgiving to my family, my friends, my co-workers and my muse. It's been a great time!