’Tis the season.
No, not that season. Not quite yet, anyway.
’Tis Thanksgiving season. So let’s talk turkey. And stuffing. Not to mention mashed potatoes, giblet gravy, cranberry sauce, candied yams and corn bread.
Selecting a single wine for the Turkey Day dinner table is akin to selecting a wine for a smorgasbord. In a word, it’s impossible. Take away all the side dishes and you still have a challenging decision to make.
A roast turkey with corn-bread stuffing and a cream gravy calls for a Chardonnay or oaked Sauvignon Blanc. But that same formerly feathered friend with a sausage stuffing and pan gravy would be better complemented by a red wine such as Syrah or Zinfandel.
Toss in the flavors and spices and textures of the aforementioned sides, and you have a sensory explosion that no single wine could possibly stand up to.
As this realization has solidified in my brain over years of fruitless searching for that “perfect” Thanksgiving wine, I’ve learned to think plural, as in multiple bottles of vino.
And since Thanksgiving is about family and hearth (not to mention girth), I also like to open homegrown wines on this special day.
See if this strategy would work for you…
Start with one bottle of white wine and one bottle of red. We recommend Chardonnay and Pinot Noir because most people like these varietals, and some outstanding examples are crafted in California.
Since the Thanksgiving meal is protracted, to say the least, figure on one bottle of wine for each two diners. If two bottles won’t suffice, add two more — a Sauvignon Blanc and a Zinfandel.
If you’re also hosting the in-laws, you’ll need still more wine. The next types to add would be a Gewürztraminer and a Syrah (a.k.a. Shiraz).
“What about Merlot?” you ask.
“What about it?” we retort. It goes well with a wide array of dishes. Add a bottle to the table.
Need yet another red? Try a Petite Sirah, a Grenache, or a Mourvedre.
Still lacking a sufficient supply of white wines? Add a Viognier, a Chenin Blanc, or a Riesling.
So when you set the Thanksgiving table, put two or three wine glasses at each place setting, uncork all the bottles you’ve selected, and let your diners have at it. Take the pressure off yourself, and let them make the food-and-wine pairing decisions.
And if you get any complaints, you’ll know who not to invite next year.