The Best Wine for Thanksgiving Dinner
By Brian Goode
I love to recommend the perfect wine and food pairings. However, if you’d like to see me hem and haw, if it would please you to watch me squirm, all you have to do, gentle reader, is ask me which wine goes best with Thanksgiving Dinner…
The challenges are many. Turkey is the centerpiece of a meal that has many supporting characters, from stuffing to sweet potatoes to the finicky Uncle Fred. There are a lot of different side dishes with a lot of sweet and fatty flavors to play off of, from the buttery rich mashed potatoes, to the buttery rich stuffing to the dreamy and rich macaroni and cheese. (Are we seeing a pattern here?)
A really good bet for this type of dinner would be a selection with moderate alcohol and not too ripe, and with good but not over-the-top acidity. My favorite zippy Italian whites like Vermentino, or New Zealand ’s Sauvignon Blanc wouldn’t work because the acid levels are too high. Also, a wine with less tannin would be a better choice. The mouth drying nature of a heavier wine would make a turkey inedible. This isn’t the meal to break out your prized California Cabernet Sauvignon, and a French Bordeaux or big Down Under Shiraz would not do.
White wine selections would include German or Alsatian Riesling, or a Pinot Gris from Oregon. Viognier, with its apricot and peach aromas and decent acidity might also work.
A sparkling wine is another good as well as safe choice, especially if you’ll be serving more than one different type of wine for your feast. Something with a little flavor like a rose, or a very slightly off dry sparkling red wine like an Australian Sparkling Shiraz would be a perfect match for the turkey as well as many of the trimmings.
For red wines my favorite choice would be a Pinot Noir from Oregon or New Zealand. The cooler climate results in a wine that will be less ripe, lower in alcohol and ripeness. The extra acidity that wines from this climate delivers can only help cut through the holidays’ excess use of butter.
The easiest answer of them all is that Thanksgiving is a celebration, and as such you can feel free to enjoy more than one type of wine. Mixing and matching will help even the pickiest drinkers, and will lead to some great discoveries. The best argument for doing this is simply that it is what I always try to do when I’m free on this holiday.