Guide for Choosing Thanksgiving Wine
If you are getting ready to have everyone over for the big family Thanksgiving dinner you will want to consider the wine you plan on serving. Even if everyone isn’t meeting at your house, it is still a good idea to consider what you can bring and how it will enhance the meal on this very special holiday. It is easy to get overwhelmed when it comes to selecting wine but you don’t have to feel daunted. Consider some of the following tips and start your wine shopping early for the holidays.
Group and Select
Choosing wine to serve with a meal can easily be over-thought. You don’t have to be a wine connoisseur to select the best wine for your family dinner, you just have to be willing to do a little reading and tasting beforehand, and cast away some aged myths about pairing wine and food. The first thing to consider is your meal and how the courses will be served. The best way to get your wine out and have it pair well is to group it. If you will be serving bubbly wines; do you want them for dessert or as an aperitif? When choosing to offer a white wine and a red wine you will want to consider whether or not they will be served with the main meal, or if there will be a salad course. Finally, thinking about a dessert wine and grouping desserts and dessert drinks together can help you plan the conclusion of your meal.
One of the best ways to start your Thanksgiving is with a delicious glass of sparkling wine, or champagne. Be careful to choose the dry or ‘Brut’ variety as it will open up your taste buds. The sweeter, or Asti Spumante variety tends to quench an appetite rather than get it ready for the meal to come, which is why it is generally served with dessert. Many enjoy starting the Thanksgiving family meal with a toast, and delicious bubbly champagne can help get the conversation flowing smoothly.
While many don’t believe you can serve red wine with poultry, it actually goes quite well with turkey. You may not immediately turn to a Cabernet; as it is a little too tart and tends to have more tannins than is compatible with turkey, but there are several choices that go nicely with this traditional meal. Actually, the reds have been traditionally favored for Thanksgiving because they lean toward a berry flavor which goes well with this hearty, fall meal. Consider some of the following selections for your dinner:
Syrah: Spicy and strong; it is one of the wines that has a lot of fruit flavor while maintaining a smoky smolder. If this wine comes from Australia it’s called Shiraz.
Pinot Noir: While considered a younger wine, it’s favored because of its taste of cherries, plums, raspberries or strawberries. If you choose an older vintage you’ll enjoy a hint of smoke as well.
Zinfandel: An intense wine full of jam-type flavors. It’s the perfect addition; full of spice, pepper flavor and delicious plum tastes.
White wine is often mistaken for being primarily a fish or poultry wine. Some aspects of this are true but it is important to remember that there are some full-bodied white wines that stand up well to heavier dishes such as ham. Many turn to a Chardonnay, which can be a little too intense and oak flavored for a Thanksgiving dinner. Consider some of the following options:
Riesling: A little sweet or dry; this wine is full of the right flavors for the holiday meal. You’ll get a hint of floral fragrance and taste peaches, as well as apricots.
Chenin Blanc: This contains the right balance of acidity, sweetness and spiciness to set off all the traditional dishes that go with the turkey.
Sauvignon Blanc: Both crisper and lighter than a Chardonnay, Sauvignon has the right hint of flavors to set this meal apart.
When it comes to serving a dessert wine you will want to move forward carefully. Here are some popular choices.
Port: A heavy, fortified wine that tends to be sweet, nutty and fruity. Older ports are less sweet and have a nuttier flavor resulting from longer aging.
Asti Spumante: a popular favorite sweet or semi-sweet sparkling wine that tends to go well with many different Thanksgiving desserts.
Muscat: some have a white, light and slightly sweet taste, while others have a dark and very sweet taste, always a great choice for dessert wine.
The key to picking an excellent Thanksgiving dessert wine is that it round out the meal and leave your guests fully satisfied.