Thanks be to Wine
If there is one thing all around the Thanksgiving table everyone can agree on, it’s wine. (Ok, and pie. And don’t forget the old maxim: ‘Pie and wine, mighty fine.”)
The variety of people we invite to our table and the smorgasbord of flavors –savory, herbal, rich, sweet and spicy—we load it with give us maximum opportunity for an array of wines to please every palate. And as Thanksgiving is the quintessential American holiday, we’ve made sure to give US wines a lot of turkey time here.
Sparkling Rose: While you might think bubbly purely an aperitif, you would be well rewarded to keep a glass by your side throughout the meal. It’s fine bubbles and high acidity cut through the richness of the meal, and the sweet berry notes compliment everything from cranberry sauce to turkey. Especially dessert. Go for Champagne if you are feeling fancy – Rose Sauvage from Piper-Heidsieck, famous for its effusive normal pink bubbles, will surely start conversation ($55). In-Laws got you feeling slightly more restrained? A Cremant de Alsace ($19) or one of Sonoma’s sparkling ($30) may be in order.
Riesling: Riesling is a perfect pairing for the holidays, with high acidity, often a bit of sweetness and loads of lime, mandarin orange and apple fruits. These from Washington State are widely available and extremely approachable: Chateau St. Michelle Eroica ($21) and the Chateau St. Michelle Dry Reisling ($12) – which ironically may seem slightly sweeter the Eroica.
Chenin Blanc: Why? The high acidity offsets the richness of the meal, plus notes of honey, orange blossom and bruised apple pair well with the sweet flavors of the season. The classics are made in the Vouvray region of Loire Valley, France ($20-30), but we might opt for a Steen from South Africa ($12-15) or a blend from Washington or California, where winemakers sometimes blend in other grapes, such as Viognier.
Beaujolais: Beaujolais takes its name from the region of France in which it is produced from the Gamay grape. The wine is light in color, high in acidity, low in tannin and full of fruit aromas and flavors. It is best slightly chilled and at about $15 it is a bargain and meant to drink early so drink up. If you’re feeling flush, opt for a cru classé such as Fleurie or Brouilly ($20-35). Or go crazy and find one of the few Gamay made in California.
Pinot Noir: Skip Burgundy this holiday season and embrace Oregon Pinot Noir, a classic pairing for Thanksgiving with its cranberry and earthy notes. Slightly less fruity and dark than California Pinot Noir, these bright and satisfying wines will steal the show. ($30-50)
Grenache: Grenache melds wild strawberry and baking spices and is often blended with Syrah and Mourvèdre – so often, in fact, that they’re called a GSM, (sort of like J-Rod, or Bill-ary). The classic savory and long-lived wines are made in Chateauneuf du Pape in the Rhone region of France, but this Thanksgiving why not look to California or Australia to find a slightly more sunny and fruity version? ($20-40)
Zinfandel: Zinfandel is big, dark, jammy, fruity, and sweetly spicy. Not to mention, at 15%+ abv, these wines can sooth any family conflict. The best are from old vines grown in the areas of California where warmth draws out the ripeness of the grapes. ($15-40)