What wines should I have for Thanksgiving? What are the “rules”? As a starting point I’ve often recommended Pinot Noir for Red & Pinot Gris for White. This year I’m changing my tune and want to share my Thanksgiving thoughts with these 5 things about Thanksgiving.
1. Drink what you love! The whole day is about being grateful so just go for it. Pull out bottles you’ve been wanting to open. Do what makes you smile! Great bubbly & a beautifully aged something… Oo la la…
2. There are a lot of flavors on the table. Finding a marriage made in heaven when cranberry relish meets bird, when stuffing goes savory while sweet potatoes go extra sweet, and string beans are busy getting creamed is analogous to a wine & food pairing Mission Impossible. Despite that most of whatever wines you put on the table work….cause it’s just that kind of festive day.
3. Beaujolais Nouveau is the wine shipped round the planet pre-US Thanksgiving to celebrate the harvest and as a reminder to be thankful for what has been harvested. It’s light, refreshing, very fruity (but not sweet as in sugary) and blends in harmoniously with the flavors & meaning of Thanksgiving.
4. If you want a wine to really stand out on the Turkey Day Table, here’s a few categorical & specific suggestions:
–Richly textured Alsatian wines that bring some oomph, but also bring nice balancing acidity, cutting thru the weight of the foods (which in many cases includes a little bit of residual sugar). Varietals to go for here are Pinot Gris, Riesling & Gewurztraminer. Two of my favorite producers are Zind Humbrecht & Domaine Weinbach.
–German Riesling has a way of cutting thru lots of different flavors and offering a bright balancing refreshment on Turkey Day. If you can find something with 5-10 years of age, spectacular. Otherwise fear not, it still pairs superbly. Honest! The younger ones will be fruitier and have slightly higher acidity. I would ideally stick to versions that sell for over $25 cause they’ve just got more to them (and the Thanksgiving table needs that). One of my favorite producers is Donhoff, but the list is extremely long. Add a comment if you’d like my thoughts on other producers.
–Syrah from ‘Southern California’ (Santa Barbara/Santa Ynez/Santa Maria areas). Why? Big textured, big flavored, lots of fruit and enough accents to spice things up a bit on the table. They just seem to do a good job of holding their own in the company of Thanksgiving. A few producers to consider are Ampelos, Jaffurs, Qupe & Melville.
–Zinfandel isn’t only a cool word starting with the letter ‘Z’. Actually, it has a way of showing it’s big fruit, big alcohol, and lots of texture when encountering a feast where the flavors are just big and often include a little sugar. A few faves are Grgich Hills, Quivira & Tres Sabores.
5. Thanksgiving is fun. Have fun! I confess we had a dance party 2 years ago after our 16 person feast. How we moved I’m not sure, but we did and it was awesome. PS: Have fun!
May your Thanksgiving be filled with peace, friends, family, joy, gratitude, and a happy connection to whatever fills your life. Cheers!