As someone who was taught to cook by her grandmother and spent hours in the kitchen with her during the holidays, I adore Thanksgiving. It is the ultimate cook’s holiday. Despite my grumblings every year that I’m tired of being exhausted in the kitchen and that we are eating at a restaurant, I endure each year and (secretly) enjoy the labor. OK, and I’m a bit of a food snob and control freak and want things done the way I want them done. But there is no doubt that we are always thrilled to feed people when they visit us. And of course, we also like getting them liquored up with good wine.
There is no shortage of opinions on what you should have on Turkey Day, but I have a few things I keep in mind when choosing some wines. First, there is no one perfect wine. There’s a lot going on flavor wise (mustard greens and dirty rice are as much a staple as the turkey and cornbread dressing) so you need something that’s easy drinking but also marries up with a wide range of foods. Which brings me to point number two. Acid is your friend. You don’t want an overly fruity, oaky, buttery wine with all of that rich food. You want a wine with some acidity that’s refreshing and that will cleanse the palate between each succulent bite. Finally, as this is the quintessential American holiday, I like to focus on American wines. Love my Burgundy and Bordeaux, but not on this day.
Yes, lots of people talk about drinking Pinot with Thanksgiving and for good reason. Depending on the style you get, it’s a versatile wine that goes with a wide range of foods. I absolutely love Pinot Noir from Oregon for Thanksgiving as it tends to have good acidity and is more earthy and less fruit forward. Two I recommend (one a bit of a splurge and the other a bit more budget friendly) are
Beaux Freres Pinot Noir, Freres Vineyard, Oregon (~$90)
Willamette Valley Vineyards Whole Cluster Pinot Noir, Oregon (~$20)
If you’re looking for a white wine, I’d go with a nice, crisp Riesling. And we’re talking the dry to off-dry version, not its sweet cousin. Like our friend Pinot Noir, this will offer up some nice acidity to balance that heavy cornbread dressing (not stuffing – it’s a Southern thing). Two to check out include
Chateau Ste Michelle Eroica Riesling, Washington (~$20)
Dr. Konstantin Frank Dry Riesling, New York (~$16)
Don’t forget about the bubbly. Sparkling wine is probably hands down, the best wine to pair with food. It really does go with just about everything. I’m just sad it took me so long to figure it out. If someone else is cooking for you, you owe it to them to bring them a bottle! In this case you go high end or a little more budget friendly and won’t go wrong in either case.
Iron Horse Classic Vintage Brut, California (~$35)
Gruet Brut Rose Sparkling, New Mexico (~$16)
Oh, but what about dessert? OK, so I sometimes break my All-American rule and go with some Sauternes from France. Sauternes and sweet potato pie is divine! You could also go with Riesling’s sweeter cousin and choose a late harvest wine, but don’t be afraid to keep on sipping your bubbly as well.
Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!