Wine Strategies for the Big Feast

Trying to find the “perfect” wine for the Thanksgiving feast can be like trying to select just one wine to accompany a meal at a smorgasbord. There are so many eclectic flavors on the table, and not all of them match well with all types of wine.

Over the years, we’ve identified two basic strategies for those who are too busy to try to pair each featured dish with a specific wine:

1. Simply pour your favorite vino — regardless of its color or level of sweetness.

2. Open up a number of different bottles, and let the diners figure it out for themselves.

If you favor the latter approach, try to make sure that one of the wines pairs well with the main course — be it turkey, ham, roast beef or a pork crown roast.

Turkey is the most “wine-friendly” of those options, as it pairs nicely with either Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. Put a bottle of each on the table, and you should satisfy the preferences of most guests.

Another solid white choice would be an off-dry Riesling, while another red option would be a fruit-forward Zinfandel.

Ham is a bit more challenging, first because it’s quite salty, and second because, at holiday time, it may also come with a honey glaze. Whether just salty or salty and sweet, a glass of Beaujolais — including the Nouveau style — works well. Another option is Viognier, which typically provides a nice counterpoint to the smoky quality of the ham.

Slicing roast beef for guests? Cabernet Sauvignon is an obvious choice, but you may want to opt for Merlot since it would pair better with a wider array of side dishes. (It’s also more “user-friendly” for less-experienced palates.) Pinot Noir also is a tasty option.

A pork crown roast demands a little more attention when selecting a wine partner. As with turkey, white and red options are available. For fans of white wine, go with Gewurztraminer. If you’d prefer to serve a red, look for varietal bottlings or almost any blend involving Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

Remember, food and wine pairing can be a “science,” but on Thanksgiving, all it needs to be is fun.

Tomorrow: Tips to help you plan a stress-free (well, almost!) holiday party.

Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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