- Posted by CorkNoob
I can almost smell the turkey cooking, the aroma of stuffing, green bean casserole and warm apple pie. I know I’m not the only one getting hangry for Thanksgiving dinner this year. My favorite thing to do is mix my turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes all together and top with yummy gravy. Oh, yes. I can just feel you OCD food segregators cringing now. You know what the next step to an enormous bite of your favorite Thanksgiving dish is? An even larger glass of your favorite wine.
Whether you’re attending a Thanksgiving dinner or hosting your own feast this year, it can be difficult to choose wines that work well with such a big meal that includes so many different, yet delicious dishes.
I have been lucky enough to receive advice from a few good wine men to help aid us in finding the perfect Thanksgiving wine pairings. Here are the grade A tips they provided.
Tip #1: Know the Crowd
After talking with Rob McCaughey, Wine & Spirits Educator at Palate Partners/Dreadnought Wines in Pittsburgh’s strip district, it became glaringly obvious that I was overthinking the type of wine I should bring to my family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. Picking a wine based on who you’ll be spending time with instead of trying to find the perfect wine pairings is most important. His words that stuck with me were “crowd pleaser”. Pick something that will be easy to drink for everyone that will be indulging.
John Gratner, Wine Rep at The Wine Merchant agrees, while also adding “There isn’t anything much worse than sharing a bottle that should be pondered and explored with those who are simply consuming the juice for the adult aspect which it contains.” So it should be taken into consideration whether or not your family and friends are big winos!
When looking for a wine to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner, here are some options they provided.
For general “crowd pleaser” wines:
- Bubbles! (Everyone loves sparkling wine)
- Grenache/Southern France Red Blend
- Off-dry/slightly sweet German Riesling or Gewürztraminer
For more of a “wino” crowd:
- Light Oregon Pinot
- Cru Beaujolais
- Barbaresco (or other wines based on the Nebbiolo grape)
Tip #2: Think about wine as “the bookends of the meal”
Rob’s approach: “wine is the bookends of the meal”. Typically most of the wine drinking is happening before and after dinner, so although it’s important to consider what’s on the menu, pairing every dish isn’t always necessary.
Guests are expecting a beverage, upon arrival, to commence the occasion. John Gratner gives a great suggestion, “Greet people with something that bubbles when they arrive. Doing so is quite hospitable and the effervescence delivers the intoxicant into the bloodstream faster, so everyone is friendly and relaxed right from the get go.”
Following the meal, get creative and break out any special wines you have to sip on during dessert and post-dinner!
Tip #3: Pairing Isn’t Tough, Just Have Enough!
Since it’s an indulgent holiday, 1 bottle per person is a good rule of thumb. “Some will drink more and some less but remember, it’s Thanksgiving day not just dinner.” says John.
If you really do want to pair the perfect wine with the Thanksgiving dinner staples, consider these options:
- Any classic grapes from the South of France (Grenache/Red Blend)
- Any Beaujolais (Avoid Nouveau, which can be bubble gummy)
- Oregon Pinot Gris
- Pinot Noir
- For Fried Turkey: More Bubbles!
- A Dry Riesling (German/Oregon)
- Coteaux du Layon (sweet Chenin Blanc)
- German Riesling (Aged)
- For Carmel Based Pies: 5 year Malmsey Madeira
Tip #4: “Even a box of wine is more classy than a case of beer”
As John says, “At the end of it all, drink what you like and remember, ‘even a box of wine is more classy than a case of beer’ so live it up and enjoy.”
As long as you and your fellow family and friends are enjoying themselves, then it’s a successful soiree. Most family will be fine with a simple glass of wine, but you can sneak in some really great wines for those that will appreciate a fine glass.
Since John Gratner is hosting dinner this year, he says, “I will have a small number of reserve wines for those who are enthusiasts in the family… Oakville Ranch 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon and a 2005 Elvio Cogno Barolo from Ravera Vineyard.”
Rob McCaughey at Dreadnought says he will definitely be bringing a Grenache from the NE of Spain to enjoy this year.
Tell us which wines you decide to enjoy over Thanksgiving, or tweet our fellow wine experts here if you can’t decide which wines to select:
John Gratner @WineGuidance
Rob McCaughey @robmccaugheypgh
Dreadnought Wines @dreadnoughtpgh
Have a Happy Thanksgiving from CorkGuru and the CorkNoob!