With Thanksgiving just around the corner, entertaining is on the forefront of all of our minds, and spectacular culinary creations are being meticulously planned throughout the country at this very moment.
Since the U.S. is now leading the world in wine consumption, wine has really become a staple at the dinner table, particularly for special occasions.
So, what wines do you pick for the greatest culinary celebration of the year? With so many flavors on one little plate, it is actually not that simple! From juicy turkey with rich gravy and tart cranberry sauce to sweet potatoes (with marshmallow), oniony green bean casserole, Brussels sprouts, and butternut squash, the traditional Thanksgiving dinner may very well be the most difficult meal to pair with wine.
In addition, many of your guests are likely to have certain wine preferences (red, white, sweet, dry, bold, light, etc.). You may now be asking yourself, how does one please every palate?
Before you resort to sticking your head in the oven with the turkey, here are some wine suggestions for maintaining sanity and happiness for everyone.
Start out with some bubbles. Not only does it make everyone happy and chatty, but it also sets a great tone for your meal. Bubbly always calls for a toast, so sharing some thankful words and cheer with your guests is also a great way to get the festivities started. You don’t have to break the bank here, either, as a domestic sparkler is quite fitting, given the American holiday theme. If you are eating on the earlier side, you might want to keep things light and serve a sparkling cocktail, like prosecco and pomegranate juice, or opt for a slightly sweet Italian sparkler that is naturally low in alcohol. Some suggestions include:
Have two to three wine options at dinner, offering a white and a red. The key to finding a wine that pairs with Thanksgiving dinner is to avoid strong flavors. Stay away from grassy wines like sauvignon blanc, or heavy wines with a lot of tannin like cabernet. Instead, opt for softer, fruitier wines. For white wine, (if you can pull it off with your crowd), flavors consisting of a slight sweetness like gewürztraminer and riesling are excellent complements to a Thanksgiving meal. Big round chardonnays also pair nicely, but if you don’t like oak you could go with a fuller-style pinot gris from Oregon or Alsace. Some suggestions include:
For red wine, light and fruity is the way to go. The best red for Thanksgiving is actually released that very week — Beaujolais! There are grand promotions around Beaujolais Nouveau, and a lot of great deals to be had, but the real value is with Grand Cru Beaujolais, from towns like Morgon and Fleurie. These are amazing light, elegant wines with beautiful depth of flavor. If you want something with a little more body to go well with the gobbler and its accouterments — pinot noir, sangiovese, and zinfandel are a little more rich, but still heavy on the fruit and light in tannin. Some suggestions include:
Thanksgiving is probably the one family meal a year when dessert takes center stage, and pumpkin, apple, and pecan pies gain superstar status. They deserve the right wine and that wine must be sweet! Dry wine with sweet desserts ruins everything and Aunty Marge just doesn’t deserve that. Since most Thanksgiving desserts tend toward the nutty side, rather than fruity, it’s best to stick with white sweet wines, as they tend to have more honeyed or nutty characteristics. Some suggestions include:
Aimée Cronin is the Business Development Director for Drync with a seasoned background in the wine industry. Most recently, she worked for Martignetti Companies, the seventh largest distributor in the United States, where she first managed a portfolio of over 200 prestigious California wine producers and developed her position to oversee all corporate communications for the company. Aimée has been a guest speaker at the Culinary Institute of America and the Aspen Food and Wine Classic and is a Certified Specialist of Wine, as well as WSET Certified with distinction.
When she is not trying to revolutionize the wine industry for the greater good of mankind, Aimée is happily spending quality time with her husband and three young children.
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