Thanksgiving is only a week away, so I decided that I would interrupt our “dinner with the somm” wine experience and discuss some wines that are great to bring to the Thanksgiving dinner table. When choosing a wine for Thanksgiving, it is difficult to choose only one. There are many dishes that bring Thanksgiving dinner to life. I find it best to have options for your guests, so they are able to try different types of wines with every dish. However, as I discussed in the previous article, wine pairing is based on what you enjoy.
Thanksgiving is a celebratory occasion, which is why sparkling wine is a great way to start off the evening, stimulating the palate for the meal to come. Also, bubbles help liven up the party and help everyone get in the mood to have a great time. Some sparkling wines that I suggest are La Marca Prosecco, Gruet Brut NV, G Sparkling Gamay and Biltmore Estate Chateau Reserve Blanc de Blancs 2006. If you want to splurge a little bit, these are a few options: Vueve Cliquot Brut Yellow Label, Pascal Doquet Premier Cru Brut Rosè champagne and Taittinger Brut La Francaise.
When pairing white wine with Thanksgiving courses, it is important to make sure that the wine is refreshing and not too rich. If the wine is too rich (like a chardonnay), it will be hard to enjoy many different courses. Choosing a refreshing wine keeps your palate stimulated and allows you to enjoy more. Some grape varieties that I suggest are sauvignon blanc, riesling and gewurztraminer.
Sauvignon blanc is a wonderful food pairing wine because it has more acidity than most whites and is very refreshing. Then there is riesling, which is not always sweet, by the way. Some rieslings can be quite dry and could confuse you in a blind tasting. However, riesling is nice with some of your sweeter dishes. Finally, gewurztraminer, which is one of my favorite grape varieties because of its complexity, can be dry or sweet as well. “Gewurz” means “spice” in German. There are spice notes that are distinctive in the wine, like white pepper, nutmeg and cloves. Gewurztraminer is complex enough to even pair with turkey. When buying wine, some of my favorite sauvignon blancs come from Bordeaux or New Zealand. A couple in particular are Graville Lacoste, France 2010 and Discovery, New Zealand 2009. When shopping for the best rieslings and gewurztraminers, you should look at Alsace, France and Germany.
Because there are so many rich flavors that are taking place on the table, it is best to have a lighter red with dinner. It is common to want to bring a nice cabernet sauvignon to Thanksgiving; however, the cabernet will overpower most of the courses. Cabernet will especially overpower the main dishes, turkey and ham, which is why Beaujolais is the best option for Thanksgiving. Beaujolais is made from the gamay grape and is produced from the region of Burgundy in the appellation of Beaujolais. Beaujolais is light and dry in style but has great fruit flavors.
The great thing about Beaujolais is that there are many different styles that you can explore. One style in particular is Beaujolais nouveau, which is known for its youth and is bottled only a few short weeks after harvest, which results in very little tannin and more fruit. It is best to pair the body of the food with the body of the wine. Beaujolais is a light red, and turkey is a lighter meat. Some of my favorite Beaujolaises are Jean Foillard Morgon Côte du Py, Raisins Gaulois by Marcel Lapierre and Château Thivin Côte de Brouilly Cuvee Zaccharie. If you are looking for a wine with more robust flavors than Beaujolais, then I would stick with a zinfandel, pinot noir or shiraz. All three of these grape varieties have been a huge hit for me when I have brought them for Thanksgiving.
Thanksgiving is a time to come together with family and friends to share memories and past times, and what better way to share memories with each other than over a nice bottle of wine? I hope these help you when you are looking through the many aisles of wine bottles.
Tune in for the next edition, as I continue with the “dinner with the somm” wine experience.
Have a great holiday! Cheers!
Michelle Richards is a certified sommelier through the Court of Master Sommeliers. Along with hosting wine tastings for local organizations, she serves up wine goodness at St. John’s Restaurant. Your can contact her by email. The opinions expressed in this column belong solely to the author, not Nooga.com or its employees.