Thanksgiving is the most popular day of the year for gathering family and friends around the table and give thanks (or bicker with relatives). Either way, it’s really quite easy to pick wines to complement your feast and satisfy your family. Here are some simple hints.
1- Get the Party Started with Bubbly
Nothing warms a crowd up better than a sparkling wine. And you don’t need to spend a bundle for this aperitif. Go for:
A Cava from Spain, such as Cristalino Brut, with fresh citrus flavors for around $10, or a Rose sparkler such as Chandon Rose from California ($18,) with delicate strawberry notes that will appeal to everyone in the room.
2- Remember Aunt Edna
The guests at a typical Thanksgiving dinner include both wine lovers and those who drink only once or twice a year. A bottle of good Riesling, with a little bit of sweetness and a smooth finish, will appeal to all your guests. Go for:
A Riesling Spatlese from Germany, which is slightly sweet, delicious and a great value starting at about $10; or a Washington State Riesling that has hints of peach and pear, balanced by bright acidity on the finish: try the classic Eroica Riesling for about $25.
3- No Piling On Allowed
All those rich foods on the table will totally overload your palate if your white wine is also rich and buttery. Think crisp and clean for your whites, and look for:
A Pinot Gris from Willamette Valley, Oregon, offering delicate flavors of apple and pear (A to Z Pinot Gris is a great value at $15), or Gewurtztraminer from Alsace, France, with delicate tropical fruit and a hint of spice (Zind Humbrecht Gewürztraminer is a classic at around $25).
4- Let Your Protein be your Red Guide
Many wine lovers head right for the big, tannic Cabernet Sauvignons that bring out the best in a good Rib Eye. But if you’re serving turkey or ham, those super-dry tannins will overpower your carefully prepared proteins. Instead, go for:
A California or Oregon Pinot Noir, featuring toasty black cherry flavors with a soft, velvety finish — Try Belle Glos Clark & Telephone ($40) or Adelsheim Willamette Valley Pinot Noir ($26); or a Red Blend with dark berry notes and light tannins — try Decoy Sonoma County Red Wine ($25).
5- Always Save Room for Dessert!
No one can resist that slice of Pumpkin or Pecan pie, and your guests will be totally wow’ed when you serve it with the proper dessert wine. Go for:
Tawny Port offers rich caramel and vanilla notes that bring out all the decadent goodness in Thanksgiving desserts. You could also go for Warre’s Warrior or Fonseca Bin 27 Porto in the $20 range, or treat yourself to the hedonistic pleasure of an aged Tawny such as Graham’s 10 Year or Taylor-Fladgate 20 Year Tawny ($30 – $50).
Remember, this feast only rolls around once a year, so get out of the kitchen, pop a few corks, mingle with your guests, and enjoy!