To many wine lovers, Thanksgiving can be a frustrating time of the year. With so many dishes being served at the dinner table, choosing the appropriate wine can be overwhelming. Often, cooks think about pairing wine with turkey and end up with white meat and white wine. But this year, home chefs should consider something new - pairing wine with the flavors of their Thanksgiving foods.
The turkey is really a blank canvas and can be thought of as a neutral flavor. Instead, look to pair wines with the array of spices or flavors you may use on the table - cranberry sauce, gravy, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg are just a few.
Tha means a number of familiar varietals will fit the bill. A sparkling wine is always festive and is a great way to start off a celebration. The green apple flavors and “biscuity” qualities of traditionally-made Champagne will go perfectly with the fall foods. Chardonnay is also perfect because it is heavy enough to stand up to gravy but will not crush the delicate seasonings on the turkey and other assorted sides. Riesling is another favorite. The bright fruit of this varietal will go nicely with fruity jams and cranberry sauce. The natural acidity of riesling makes it perfect for ham glazed with honey or topped with pineapple.
As for red wines, a light pinot noir or Beaujolais works very well, as will a rose. The tart red berry fruit found in these reds match perfectly with cranberry sauce or dried berries in stuffing. The body of these wines will not weigh down the subtle spices used. For something with a little more body, try a smoky syrah or an intense Zinfandel. These offer more complex flavors, aromas and textures if you want a bolder taste. If your Thanksgiving feast includes a lot of Italian foods, then pair them with Italian reds. They have a natural level of high acidity making them a perfect partner for different cheeses and fatty, cured meats like prosciutto and salami. Italians have been producing wines for years to fit the cuisine of the country, so keep it simple.
When shopping for wine, think about your cooking style and the flavors you use then choose your wine accordingly. The more flavorful the food, the more flavorful the wine.
Here are some examples that will work well:
- Tullia Prosecco NV - A deliciously dry sparkler with notes of apples and pears. $12.99
- Nicchia Lambrusco di Sorbara NV - A new, sweet sparkler full of dark and red fruit. $13.99
- Billecart-Salmon Brut Reserve NV - The perfect champagne for a toast. $49.99
- Three Saints Chardonnay 2009 - A wonderful buttery chardonnay. $19.99
- Caillot Bourgogne Blanc "Les Herbeux" 2007 - A de-classified Meursault with notes of lemon curd and sublte oak. $29.99
- Latour-Labille St. Aubin "Cuvee Thomas" 2008 - A new wine from a favorite White Burgundy producer. $39.99
- Spreitzer "101" 2010 - A slightly off-dry Riesling with tons of fruit flavor and acidity. $16.99
- Bechtold "Sussenberg" 2007 - A wonderful dry Riesling from Alsace with tons of apples and minerals. $25.99
- Donnhoff Estate 2010 - A German riesling with lovely ripe pear and orchard fruit notes. $19.99
- Robert Sinskey "Aries" Pinot Noir 2006 - Excess fruit from Vandal Vineyard. $25.99
- Pull 80 Pinot Noir 2009 - A wonderful bargain from Oregon complete with subtle fruit and spice. $17.99
- Evening Land ELV Pinot Noir 2009 - A wonderful Northwestern Pinot crafted by France's own Dominique Lafon. - $29.99
- BeaujolaisDomaine Bel-Air 2009 - Wonderful light berry fruit and crisp acidity. $12.99
- Domaine Grand Fers Select Block 2009 - A sigle vineyard Fleurie, one of the best values in Burgundy.$22.99
- Evening Land Passetoutgrains 2009 - A thoughtful blend of Pinot and Gamay creating a wine big in flavor with a modest price. $14.99
- Raydon Estate "Langhorne Creek" Shiraz 2003 - Smoky, earthy and spicy fruit in the forefront.$24.99
- Jelu Reserve Syrah 2006 - A very good Argentinian Syrah with a sleek style. $16.99
- Balthazar Troiseme VDP 2009 - Smoky with notes of dark brambly fruit.A perfect wine from the Northern Rhone. $19.99
- The People's Zin 2009 - A full-bodied inexpensive Zin with jammy, ripe fruit. $11.99
- Klinker Brick 2009 - Spicy and layered with dark and red fruit. $18.99
- Rockpile Cemetary Zinfandel 2009 - A full, expressive wine with intense berry flavors and aromas. $44.99
- Centonze Nero d'Avola 2009 - A full flavored wine from Sicily with dark cherry fruit. $16.99
- Scinniri IGT Sicily 2010 - A blend of indeginous Sicilian variteals, this is one of the most interesting wines you will have. $21.99
- Rosso di Rocca 2010 - A traditional style wine from Piedmont, this wine is intense, spicy and flavorful.$19.99
Wesley Kirk is the Sales Manager for Amanti Vino in Montclair. For more information about Amanti Vino or how to buy these wines, check out the store's website at: www.amantivino.com