Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Wine Pairings for Thanksgiving

My husband and I usually host our families at our home on Thanksgiving. We always cook a traditional herb-roasted turkey and gravy with a savory dressing/stuffing with fresh onions, peppers and herbs, sweet potatoes (1/2 with marshmallows and 1/2 without) and the cranberry sauce. Other family members bring desserts and various side dishes. There are always green beans and usually mashed potatoes, broccoli/rice casserole and macaroni & cheese. My mother-in-law always brings flaky rolls with strawberry butter.

When choosing wine for this day, I first consider what works best with this meal, my guests, how much I will need and what I want to spend. I try to buy a minimum of half a bottle for each adult and depending on who has come to town and how long it may stretch, I might buy more. I always buy wine that I will enjoy in case it is not consumed that day. I don't want to be stuck storing something that I don't enjoy myself.

Pairing wine with the turkey is the easiest part, something that will complement rather than cover its mild flavors. It gets tricky when you consider the sweetness, tartness or creaminess of all the individual side dishes. In recent years, I have started with sparkling cranberry cocktails, usually an inexpensive Prosecco mixed with cranberry juice. If you want your bubbles straight, Extra-Dry or Rose Champagne will pair better than other styles such as Brut.

I also open a few different bottles of wine to accommodate everyone's tastes. Top white wine picks include dry Riesling from Alsace or Washington, Argentinean Torrontes from the Salta region, lighter Italian-style Pinot Grigio or Sauvignon Blanc from California. Red Choices include Beaujolais-Villages (rather than the traditional Nouveau), a light Pinot Noir, Rioja with Garnacha in the blend, or a light-bodied Merlot or Cabernet for my die-hard red drinkers. 

Most importantly, you should enjoy what you pick so you can enjoy the feast, the merriment and feel thankful for what is in your glass!