A Tale of Two Turkeys (Turkey Dinners, That Is)

QUESTION: What wines are good with turkey?

     ANSWER: That depends.

     If you’re eating sliced turkey with, perhaps, some mashed potatoes and chicken gravy, then there is only one wine to have (in our ever-so-humble opinion): a nice, buttery Chardonnay. (Think: Butterball turkey with a butterball Chardonnay.)

     It’s really a no-brainer. The texture of the meat… the creaminess of the potatoes… the fat of the sauce… and the buttery mouthfeel of the wine. When it comes to food-and-wine pairings, it doesn’t get much better than that.

     Now, if you’re talking about the big Thanksgiving (or other holiday) feast, of which turkey is only part of the smorgasbord of dishes… that’s another matter.

     When the fare is bountiful and eclectic, Chardonnay should be scratched from the wine list and replaced with lighter wines – both white and red.

     Among whites, Riesling, Gewurztraminer, Chenin Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio all are good choices. Among reds, opt for Beaujolais (Nouveau, in particular), or lighter styles of Pinot Noir or Zinfandel. Rhone-style blends – with various combinations of Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre – also work well.

     The key, in all cases, is the body of the wine and how it’s perceived on the palate. A rich, buttery Chardonnay is almost “too much wine” for a big, eclectic spread. But lighter wines – such as those we’ve just mentioned – are very complementary to a wide array of dishes. In a word, they’re versatile, and you need a versatile wine on a holiday dinner table.

Posted in Wine FAQ
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