A Thanksgiving Wine Primer

Thanksgiving is, by a foodie standard, the orgasmic holiday. Everyone stresses the perfect turkey, the perfect sides, the perfect desserts and the holy grail…the perfect wine pairings.

The typical Thanksgiving dinner has a myriad of flavors. Turkey. Mashed potatoes. Green bean casserole. Macaroni and cheese (that may just be my family…). Stuffing/dressing. Cranberry sauce. An assortment of sweets for dessert.

What is a perfectionist to do when it comes to wine pairings and Thanksgiving dinner???? Here’s what’ll be on my table:

Sparkling: Yes. That stuff that’s meant for celebrations. Sparkling wine isn’t just for celebrating a promotion or the new year any more. Sparkling wine adds a nice versatility to the table, as it can easily pair with everything from appetizers to dessert. My recommendations: Michelle Brut, Treveri Cellars Blanc de Blanc Brut or Rosé and Mumm Napa Brut Rosé, Brut Prestige or Cuvée M.

Rosé: A nice dry rosé is always welcome throughout the year, but there’s something special about the pairing of turkey and rosé. My recommendations: speak with your local wine shop specialist to see what they have in stock. My personal preference lies within the Provençal and Rhône style rosé’s. A nice Rosé of Pinot Noir is also divine.

White: Riesling. Without a doubt, the balance of acidity and sweetness in Riesling makes it super friendly with the myriad of flavors on the table. My recommendations: Personally, I’m on a big Washington Riesling kick, so anything from Washington of course tops the list, but an Alsatian or German Rieslings are divine as well.

Red: Pinot Noir and Gamay Noir (Beaujoulais) are the classic answer to this question. But why play it safe? Experiment with a Syrah or Merlot-based blend. You’d be surprised how a nice Merlot or Syrah can pair with roasted turkey. My recommendations: Owen Roe Ex Umbris Syrah, Helix Syrah by Reininger Winery and Basel Cellars Merriment or Claret.

If you’re not feeling like wine, then here’s a delicious harvest-style cocktail to enjoy:

3 oz. White Whiskey (I use Colonel Cobb Moonshine from Double V Distillery in Battle Ground, WA if you live in the PDX area)
1 oz. Maple Syrup (I’m partial to barrel aged like this one from Woodinville Whiskey Company, but any high quality maple syrup will work…)
10 or so dashes of Grapefruit Bitters

Mix in a shaker with ice. Shake well. Pour into a highball glass and enjoy.

Here’s just a brief preview of what will be on my table this year. Mind you, this is not the end all of end all bottles, either. We may end up opening some other stuff in addition or to substitute.

Thanksgiving Wines at the World HQ

Now, if you have a special bottle that you’ve been dying to open…the best advice comes from my dear friend, Jeff Weissler of Pairings Portland Wine Shop‘s latest newsletter: Drink that yummy, special wine (the one you’ve picked out and have been waiting to open), before your guests arrive! Why? Chances are it’ll get lost in the orchestra of so many flavors and a crowded full plate! Having said that, sometimes it’s all about the sharing. 🙂

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