IMBIBE: Drinking With Big Bird

By on November 17, 2015

These unique wines add zest to Thanksgiving dinner.

If you’re planning to pour wine at your Thanksgiving meal, or on bringing a bottle to a restaurant, there is a mind-bending array of options available to you. Multi-dish meals like Thanksgiving provide a lot of wine pairing possibilities—too many, in some cases. I usually prefer to stick with a couple of wines—one white and one red—and perhaps some bubbly, rather than trying to find one wine for the turkey, another for the spuds, a third for stuffing, and so on. Versatility is what I look for in a Turkey Day wine, not specialization.

There are, of course, the usual suspects. Zinfandel is favored by many because of its uniquely American heritage. Red Burgundy, too, is a good all-purpose Thanksgiving wine, one that bridges dishes from dark turkey meat to pumpkin pie. And Riesling is always a safe and smart choice during holiday meals due to its unmatched versatility for pairing well with so many different foods. However, if you’d like to play around with some novel wine pairings this Thanksgiving, here are a few of the ones that I’m considering.

I like to greet holiday guests with a glass of sparkling wine, and it’s hard to beat the 272-year-old Champagne house of Moët & Chandon for consistency and quality. Their Dom Perignon ($170) might not be in your (or my) Thanksgiving budget, but Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut NV ($49.99) could be. It’s bright and lively in style, the perfect opening for a memorable meal.

I don’t especially like to weigh down Thanksgiving guests with high-alcohol wines, which is one reason to stay away from Zins. So, I’d consider serving a Rosé with a little heft, such as Chateau du Donjon Minervois Rosé ($13.99). This tasty Syrah-Cinsault-Grenache blend is hearty enough to enjoy with roasted turkey, but light enough to sip as an aperitif.

An interesting “starter” or aperitif wine, if you’re working your way slowly up to the main event (turkey) is Luigi Voghera Langhe Arneis ($12.49), from Italy’s Piedmont region. The wine is unoaked, but full-bodied and ultra-dry—a really nice partner for hors d’oeuvres and appetizers.

As one who is always happy to find quality Chardonnay being poured at the holiday table, I’d look toward a well-crafted California Chard such as Landmark Vineyards Overlook Chardonnay Sonoma County ($27.49) to fill the bill. With flavors of quince, apricots and brioche, this luscious Chardonnay is round enough to enjoy with roasted poultry dishes like turkey.

If you’d like to surprise your guests with something truly unique—right down to its unusual Vinolok crystal bottle closure—then pop the Vinolok on a bottle of Tenuta Sant’Antonio Scaia Cornvina ($12.99) for Thanksgiving. This Veneto wine is easy-drinking and very versatile, with robust cherry flavors that will run the pairing gamut from roasted turkey and stuffing to sharp cheeses served after dinner.

Increasingly, French winemakers with Burgundian backgrounds are finding their way to the less expensive Languedoc region of France to make their wines, and many are doing it organically. Such is the case with organic Chateau Pech-Latt Corbieres ($14.99). This lovely blend of old vine Syrah-Grenache-Mourvèdre-Carignan has good structure and is robust enough to enjoy with deep-fried turkey, turduckens, goose, prime rib and bolder Thanksgiving table flavors.

The same goes for Tenuta Frescobaldi di Castiglioni ($22), a powerful, rich wine from Tuscany. Intense blueberry and cherry aromas accompany black pepper and spice scents, with dense tannins and a full body. Serve this one with dark roasted turkey meat, beef or lamb, and roasted root vegetables. It will also pair well with bold after-dinner cheeses. PJH


About Ted Scheffler

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