2017-11-01 / Wine Notes

The Thanksgiving Dilemma

Robert D. Richards, CSW

Thanksgiving has rolled around once again. The menu is set. Heck, it’s been pretty much set since the time of the Pilgrims. The real angst associated with the annual meal — leaving aside the relatives — is what wine to serve with dinner.

Pairing for the Thanksgiving meal is counterintuitive. Typically, wine pairing involves the centerpiece of the meal. That would mean concentrating on selecting a wine to go with the turkey. If only that were the case, what an easy choice it would be. Just about anything would go with the turkey.

The dilemma with the Thanksgiving meal is not about the platter in the center of the table. It’s about all the other dishes scattered around the holiday table — the sides, the sauces and the condiments.
Don’t look for that “perfect” wine that will tie together all the flavors and textures of the feast. It probably doesn’t exist. The closest thing would be Champagne, because when you’re drinking Champagne, all is good.

To start a meal off with Champagne (or another sparkling alternative), try a Rosé or Blanc de Noirs (a sparkling white made from red or black grapes). That’s a festive way to ease your guests into the meal.
Once the meal is underway, a German Riesling is a good match, especially for the sweeter sides like cranberries, yams and relishes. For red wine lovers, look for something that is fruit forward like Pinot Noir or Beaujolais. If the meal contains a number of spicy dishes, look for a Gewürztraminer as a white accompaniment or Zinfandel as a red. Both those wines exhibit spicy or peppery notes.

Avoid the traditional dry wines, such as Sauvignon Blanc or Cabernet, which can easily be overpowered by the sweet sides. Finally, Thanksgiving celebrates the harvest, so for dessert, try a late-harvest Riesling. •SCM

Dr Loosen Dr L Dry Riesling 2015
(#99128, $12.99)
This complex Riesling from Mosel exhibits the region’s characteristic fruit-forward nature and mineral notes.
Kiona Late Harvest Riesling Columbia Valley 2015
(#73536, $15.99)
This medium-sweet wine with notes of stone fruit and honey will be a perfect accompaniment to your Thanksgiving desserts.
Girard Zinfandel
Old Vine Napa Valley 2013

(#42804, $19.99)
This wine shows Zinfandel’s typical peppery, smoky nature. Because the grapes are sourced from older vines, the wine also exhibits more intense fruit flavors like blackberry and raspberry.
Veuve Clicquot
Champagne Demi Sec (Non-Vintage)

(#5042, $48.99)
A top brand for a reason, this bubbly shows off its golden color and ripe fruits, such as pear and apricot, along with a hint of caramel.

Robert D. Richards, CSW, is a Certified Specialist of Wine through the Society of Wine Educators and has passed the first-level certification of the prestigious Court of Master Sommeliers.

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