Wine for the Holiday Table

By Dinah Leach

Your entire family is coming for Thanksgiving dinner, including Uncle Fred. You’ve found a killer turkey recipe that you can’t wait to try. Mom’s bringing her pumpkin pie. The shopping list is complete and is waiting for your trip to the store. 

But wait! You need to pick out wine to go with all this amazing food. What do you choose? Something to go with the turkey or something that pairs with the sweet potatoes? Or the green bean casserole? And WHAT on earth will pair with the cranberry sauce? We haven’t even discussed dessert yet…

First of all, there is no need to panic. Thanksgiving is a very diverse meal with a lot of contrasting components going on — everything from sweet to savory to tart and other universes of flavors in between. There are many options in the wine world for you to choose from for your smorgasbord meal. And remember, if Uncle Fred likes Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon with fried egg sandwiches smothered in ketchup, you might want to have a bottle on hand — he’s not going to object to any pairing you make with his favorite! Remember, people, this is fermented grape juice that we’re talking about, not life and death. 

That being said, there are some great wines that will pair beautifully with your big feast!  Every Thanksgiving, a bottle each (perhaps more than one!) of Champagne, Chablis, Rosé and Pinot Noir grace my table. I choose these wines each for their versatility in pairing with the mixed bag on the table.

Champagne is a fantastic pairing because of those palate-cleansing bubbles and high acidity. It literally makes you want to take another bite and another! You can opt for either Blanc de Blancs (white wine from white grapes) or Brut Rosé. Reliable producers that won’t break the bank include Billecart Salmon and Lallier.

Chablis works on the same principle as champagne — lots of acidity to strip your palate of fatty foods that fatigue the palate. It pairs extremely well with the turkey and mashed potatoes and gravy. William Fevre and Louis Michel are particular favorites. And don’t buy the “Chablis” in the jug!!

Rosé wines are spectacular partners for the Thanksgiving table. Remember the scary cranberry sauce pairing? Voila! Green bean casserole? Bam! They come in a range of styles and varietals from very light Provençal rosés to rosé of Pinot Noir to heavier rosés from Syrah. Rosés are also great because they drink like both a red wine and a white wine. A definite over-achiever on the table!

Finally, let Pinot Noir have the spotlight for a moment. Sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and stuffing with sage are all winners when paired with Pinot Noir. Producers Etude and Littorai from California, Bethel Heights, and Domaine Drouhin from Oregon are simply smashing!

All these wines have acidity and finesse in common. Every item on your special menu has a voice, and you don’t want the wines to outshine or overpower the food. But don’t forget the most important rule: whatever you like best is the best pairing for you! Have a fantastic and safe Thanksgiving Day!

 

About the author: Dinah Leach is the Wine Director and Sommelier for Angelina’s Ristorante of Bonita Springs. Please feel free to contact her with any wine questions at dinah@epicfoodconcepts.com.

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