How could it be Thanksgiving already? Wasn’t it just Halloween? Christmas items went up in retailers in early October and I’ve sort of just ignored them not wanting to acknowledge its existence until after the ghosts and goblins had been put away. I saw the Rockefeller Christmas tree being driven into the square on television and I still can’t grasp that next week is Thanksgiving. Yikes I’d better start planning and one of the most important items on my table is the wine.
Given the variety of dishes and palates around the Thanksgiving Dinner table, choosing a wine can be challenging. Sweet dishes, savory dishes, delicate turkey meat, sheeze, what’s a wine lover to do? Actually it’s not that tough, basic rule of thumb is to match the flavor intensity of the food to the wine, match acidic foods with acidic wines and avoid combining savory dishes with high tannin wines and finally drink what you like.
For white wines I tend to play it safe and almost always have a dry Riesling on the table. I know the flavors will complement the foods and not overpower. I also feel a dry Riesling is inoffensive to many palates. The two below are always excellent choices.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Columbia Valley Riesling 2009
Citrus and tropical aromas, honey and pineapple flavors wash over the palate. Hints of green apple and peach provide for a lingering finish. The hint of citrus pairs well with turkey, the clean feel of the wine helps to cut through some of the heavy flavors of the dressing and other fixings. For more on Chateau Ste. Michelle, click here.
2008 Helfrich Riesling A.O.C. Alsace
For an appetizer try pairing salty or rind cheeses with a nice Riesling such as 2008 Helfrich Riesling priced right at $14.99. I try to keep the appetizers a little light. Try pairing this wine with Big Ed’s cheese, I found mine at Whole Foods. You could also serve this wine with the main course or dessert as it lends itself beautifully to a multitude of food flavors.
Aromas are full of honey, citrus and orange blossoms. Flavors are crisp and clean with more citrus, green apple and a hint of mineral. Flavors are off dry so this isn’t a really sweet Riesling.
TA 8.3 g/L
RS 6.0 g/L
Additional white wine options that won’t outshine the star attraction are:
Viognier: Exotic floral and fruity, notes of peach, apricot, violet and pear. Full bodied, dry or off dry with low acidity.
Chenin Blanc: Medium bodied, with medium sweetness, high acidity, with citrus, green and tropical fruit of lemon, apple and pineapple. Some can be herbaceous with green aromas and flavors.
Sauvignon Blanc: Aromatic green fruit and pungent Eucalyptus. High in acidity, medium bodied and dry.
White wines don’t have to steal the show at the Thanksgiving dinner table. Reds are a great choice too but you’ll want to select a light wine so it doesn’t over power the dishes. In this case a Cabernet Sauvignon or Shiraz may not be a good choice but there are plenty of other contenders.
2009 Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages Red Burgundy
Founded in 1859, this old world classic is light and easy drinking, critical when you’re filling up on carbs and hitting the food wall. Louis Jadot Beaujolais-VillagesBurgundy is 100% Gamay grapes. Aromatic raspberry and black plum pair beautifully with fresh cranberry sauce and turkey. Flavors are light and not overpowering with just a hint of spice and black pepper. Meant to be consumed when bottled but can be cellared for up to five years. Also pairs great with leftover turkey sandwiches.
2006 St. Francis Winery Merlot Sonoma County
The wine will hold up well with all the spices in those side dishes. St. Francis Merlot is fruit forward and packs loads of lush plum and black pepper aromas. Spicy herbal flavors, bold tannins and a hint of chocolate in the finish will make this a must serve on any Thanksgiving table.
Total Acidity .065 g/L
In my family not providing the iconic pumpkin pie is a crime. The food pairing rule of thumb for dessert is match sweet foods with sweet wines.
Port: Made from a blend of black grape varieties it’s a grape derived spirit. Sweet and high in alcohol there are a wide range of Ports to suit your budget. While young ports are fruity, older ports can be less sweet, have lighter colors and be down right seductive.
Sauternes: French sweet wine from the Sauternes region. Made from Sémillon, Sauvignon Blanc, and Muscadelle grapes which have been affected by noble rot or Botrytis cinerea. The mold causes the thin skins to shrivel and concentrate sugars and acids. The resulting flavor in Sauternes is a luscious sweetness that is full bodied, high in alcohol with a balanced acidity.
W & J Graham’s Porto Tawny Aged 20 Years Douro Valley Portugal
I’ve saved the best for last with Graham’s Tawny 20 year old Port. It’s priced around $52 and just pure heaven. The Port is a blend of older more complex wines and younger wines. Light amber in color, nutty and orange aromas intermingles with smooth, rich concentrated flavors of honey, almonds and caramel. Finish is warm and lingering. This would be truly magnificent with homemade pumpkin pie.
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