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Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Conundrum Decoded

Sun, Dec 04, 22

From a culinary viewpoint, Thanksgiving is not the most user-friendly holiday when it comes to pairing wine. Actually, it can be an outright nightmare. I mean, really, is there any one wine that works with the sweetness of yams, the tartness of cranberry sauce, the buttery, creamy richness of mashed potatoes drenched in gravy, and an herb-laden stuffing to name but a few common Thanksgiving dishes. The turkey is the easy part. Outside of having a half dozen different bottles open on the table (hey, that doesn’t sound so bad!), we have a few favorites that seem to work pretty well.

One option that we’ve always loved is sparkling wine. Whether a Prosecco or a Champagne, a bottle of bubbles can just about take you through the whole day. It works as an aperitif, it’s good with appetizers such as shrimp cocktail and cheeses, sparkling wines are great with soups and chowders if that’s on the menu, and the acidity of these wines make them a good fit with tricky foods like brussels sprouts, creamed onions, and the ubiquitous green bean casserole. And what’s a holiday gathering without a bottle of sparkling wine?

If you’re convinced (or even if you’re not totally, but are up for trying), consider Gancia Prosecco and Haton Champagne as two worthy choices. Gancia is our best-selling Prosecco and the Haton, at $22.48 right now, is an amazing deal for a Champagne.

With white wines, we’re staying with the good acidity theme with our first suggestion, Riesling. Contrary to popular belief, Riesling is not always sweet. In fact, in Germany, the unofficial home of Riesling, dry versions are far and away the most popular type. For Thanksgiving though, we like Rieslings that have just a hint of sweetness and a blazing foundation of acidity. We’d like to introduce you to 90+ Lot 66 Riesling from Germany’s famed Mosel region. Sporting that touch of sweetness and crisp acidity, this bottle also has plenty of juicy fruit and a refreshing quality that seamlessly winds you through each plate on the table.

Another white that we like is Chardonnay. So far, we’ve been focusing on whites that stand a chance against the pronounced side dish flavors, but, hey, we all know that the turkey is the star on this day, so our vote for this pairing goes to Chardonnay. We’re not looking for a big, oaky Chardonnay that would overpower the bird, but we want a balanced bottling that shows some richness and some (word of the day) acidity. We’ve been to Italy, France, and Germany so far, so let’s go with an American Chardonnay for this most American of holidays.

Fog Mountain Chardonnay is a great choice. With aromas and flavors of bright citrus fruit, juicy pear, baked apple pie, and toasted nuts, this is perfect with a big slice of turkey with crispy skin coated with a rich gravy. It’s also on special at $9.48 through Thanksgiving.

There are a few red wines, lest we forget, that can work wonderfully on this day as well. One of our favorites, and maybe THE wine that most people associate with Thanksgiving is Pinot Noir. We don’t want big structure and drying tannins with this meal, so that eliminates Cabernet, Merlot, Bordeaux, Barolo, and many others. Good Pinot Noir, however, has a silky quality that doesn’t overpower any Thanksgiving dishes and its bright acidity (ok, last time) has success with all of those tricky sides. The creamy richness of many versions is ideal with the turkey.

A new addition to our shelves, and one that we’re looking forward to trying with our meal on Thursday, is the Ironside Pinot Noir Reserve. Medium-bodied with ripe cherries, strawberry jam, and a hint of baking spices, this is a delicious, rich California Pinot that we’re sure is going to shine on our tables.

Another red that always jumps to mind for Thanksgiving dinner is Zinfandel. And Syrah. And Petite Sirah. We’ve had all three on our table in various years and it’s always worked out deliciously. So, how about a red blend that contains all three of these varietals? Sign us up!

With some Zin-like spice, juicy red fruits, and a bit of ripe darker fruit thanks to the Petite Sirah, the Shannon Ridge Wrangler Red is gutsy enough to handle all of the discordant flavors served for Thanksgiving. And for a $10.48 special holiday price, this wine is off the charts good!

So, there you have it. A half dozen excellent wines that are sure to tackle the obstacle that is Thanksgiving dinner. Oh, and if you wake up from your post-dinner nap craving a turkey sandwich, make sure that you save yourself a glass of one of these, nighttime turkey sandwiches require a perfect pairing too!

Have a great Thanksgiving!

Greg Knowlton
Wine Manager

Prices mentioned are good through 11/30/2017