The perfect wine can add so much subtle passion and deeply indulgent comfort to Thanksgiving Dinner.
Once again, we come to the annual vexing question: What wine(s) to serve with Thanksgiving dinner?
Let me caution you not to overthink this, for it’s true as Shakespeare’s Caliban said, “Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises, sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.”
Substitute “Thanksgiving Dinner” for “isle” and you get my drift.
After all, no one comes to Thanksgiving for the wine. What’s the worst that can occur with the wine? Only one potential disaster lurks – you run out. (I suggest having at least one bottle per drinking adult)
So, while it’s true that the wine is the easy part, some are better than others. This is not the time to worry about pairing specific foods with particular bottles. Instead, look for versatile wines that pair well with many foods, are energetic with lively acidity, that will refresh the palate and are not high in alcohol, or tannins.
I am a sucker for bubbles and would happily drink a series of sparklers for the entire meal, perhaps beginning with the crisp and lively Spanish Cava, Raventos, moving on to the soft, creamy Champalou Sparkling Vouvray from France’s Loire Valley.
With the entrée, a grower Champagne, the round, smooth and bright, 1er Cru Brut Cuvee from Lassalle.
The archetypal Thanksgiving still white is Riesling – specifically from Alsace, one to try the Trimbach Riesling, crisp, elegant, food friendly, with a pleasing floral note.
Other whites to consider include the tart and delicious Frog’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc from Napa Valley, and a voluptuous chardonnay from Jordan Winery, or in a sleeker style, one from Burgundy, France, the Matrot Meursault.
Albarino from Spain is one of my all time favorites because of its salty minerality and texture – one to seek out is the Bodegas Garzon.
If red wine is your thing, no wine has a better Thanksgiving track record than Beaujolais – no, not Beaujolais Nouveau, but a more serious wine, with velvety tannins and crunchy fruit, like the Antoine Sunier Morgon. Cabernet Franc is a deliciously peppery wine that just screams Thanksgiving, and I’m an enthusiastic fan of Domaine Arnaud Lambert’s Saumur from the Loire Valley in France. Pinot Noir is a great choice because of its delicate demeanor and affinity for cranberry – choose one from Sonoma Valley like the Davis Family Dutton Ranch or go abroad to Burgundy and discover a Bourgogne Rouge from Vincent Girard. If you are looking for something a bit bolder, go with the delicious, juicy Rhone blend from California’s Tablas Creek, the Patelin de Tablas.
For dessert, the rule of thumb is that the wine must be sweeter than the dessert. Good choices are the Roumieu-Lacoste French Sauterne with custards and pies, and Cockburn’s Ruby Port with chocolate.
On the Plateau, you are likely to discover any of these wines – or similar styles – at Bryson’s, Mountain Fresh, Highlands Wine Shoppe and The Wine Cellar of Cashiers.