Wines to Open With the Thanksgiving Feast

Autumn place setting. Thanksgiving dinnerNo matter what some wine pundits may say, there is no one “perfect” variety of wine to accompany the Thanksgiving holiday feast.

So, what to do? Here are two basic strategies:

  1. Pour your favorite vino — regardless of its color or level of sweetness.
  1. 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 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 fruity Beaujolais 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.)

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, seek out varietal bottlings of or almost any blend involving Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.

Yes, food and wine pairing can be a “science.” But on Thanksgiving, all it needs to be is fun. Ultimately, it should boil down to what you, your family and your guests like.

With that in mind, here’s one more idea: When inviting people to your Thanksgiving dinner, ask them what type of wine they drink.

When we’re sipping a wine we enjoy, we have one more reason to be thankful.

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Posted in Food and Wine Pairings/Recipes
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