Great White & Red Wines to Pair with your Thanksgiving Meal
Are you thinking about serving a bottle of Chardonnay with your Thanksgiving turkey? Do you plan on bringing a nice bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon over to a friend’s? Don’t even think about it. Why? These wines are too dominant. They are great as the stars of the table but when combined with all the food combinations on a Thanksgiving table, these wines want to be the “King of the Table” and can’t seem to play nicely with the varied dishes.
Okay I see you with that deer-in-the-headlights look, wondering what on earth you are doing to do now that I’ve crushed your little plan. Come on. You know I wouldn’t leave you hanging.
Instead of the old standards, Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon, I have some far better choices for you. And these versatile wines won’t clash with the abundance of meats, sides, sauces, and desserts. The common mistake people make with wine and food pairing at Thanksgiving dinner is only thinking about the turkey, dressing or the mashed potatoes; and do not consider the herbs and spices used in the preparation of these foods. If herbs traded on the stock exchange, I’d buy them in October and sell in January. During the holidays we ramp up our use of thyme, rosemary, sage, garlic, cinnamon, and nutmeg; only to neglect them the rest of the year. But their use, completely changes the food and wine pairing game.
Everyone seems to need help knowing which wines to pair with Thanksgiving dinner. I’ve listed some wines that are easy to find and not too bad on the budget. In addition, these wines are perfect mates to a Thanksgiving dinner. And yes, I realize there are many wines that would pair nicely with the complex flavors of Thanksgiving, but since this is an American holiday, all of my choices are strictly American wines.
Here are some good selections for the multifaceted dishes served with the typical Thanksgiving meal:
- Dry Riesling – Although this wine may be aromatic, the acidity makes it an ideal food pairing wine.
- 2010 Three Rivers Riesling, Columbia Valley, $15 – Great representation of a Washington state Riesling.
- 2011 Chateau Ste. Michelle, Columbia Valley, $9 – This mass producer does an amazing job of producing very good quality wines at an incredible price point
- Pinot Gris – Oregon Pinot Gris are not oak aged and have nice acidity, a bit of citrus to help cut the fats in sauces and gravies, and a palate-cleansing finish. There are too many to name but I lean toward the Alsatian-style wines which are crisp, clean, well balanced and are great food pairing wines.
- 2011 Ponzi Pinot Gris $15 Nice citrus and apricot which give it a full mouth feeling but without overwhelming the meal.
- Pinot Blanc – I’ve started drinking this wine only within the last two years but now I continue it a “go to” staple in my wine captain.
- 2008 Chalone Vineyard Estate Pinot Blanc, Monterey $26 – Nice mellow melon and peach flavor with a bit of green apple. If this wine was priced lower, I’d easily make this my everyday white. I never tire of it.
- Laetitia Estate Pinot Blanc, Arroyo Grande Valley $16 – Great tropical flavor is not overpowering with foods
- Sparkling – Anyone who knows me knows that I love champagne so it should be no surprise I’d find a way to pair sparkling wines with Thanksgiving. I think all foods are better with champagne largely because it is the perfect pairing wines; cutting through fat and creams nicely and leaving the palette ready for more. You can’t go wrong with a California Sparkling but these selections are reasonably priced and a great value given the quality.
- 2007 Gloria Ferrer Brut Rosé $42
- 2007 Gloria Ferrer Blanc de Blancs $26
- Scharffenberger Brut NV, Mendocino County $20
- Chardonnay – I know I said no chardonnay. But what I really meant was no traditional California Chardonnay which have a tendency to be overly oaky. Buy only lightly oaked ones or stainless steel fermented Chardonnay so the food is not overpowered by the oak fermentation.
- 2010 Foley Chardonnay Steel, Santa Rita Hills, $30 – This is one of my favorite Chardonnays because I do not like oaky Chards.
- 2011 Chamisal Stainless Chardonnay, Central Coast $18 – Ditto comment above
- Cabernet Franc – 2009 Titus Cabernet Franc, Napa Valley $36
- Rosé- Kynsi Pinot Noir Rosé Barn Owl Blush, Edna Valley – I tasted this wine at the tasting room this past summer and just found it so refreshing and bright.
- Pinot Noir – This is a safe choice, given Pinots a very traditional pairing choice.
- 2007 Chamisal Bien Nacido Vineyard Pinot Noir, Santa Maria Valley $38 – This was another tasting room fave of mine from this summer’s Central Coast wine trip.
- 201 Chasseur Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley $40 – This is a beautiful wine with raspberry, black cherry and silky finish. It’s a classic RRV Pinot.
So whether you are hosting a house full or bringing a dish to a friend’s home, these wine choices will give you the confidence and keep your stress level down. The holidays can be stressful enough having to worry about your wine choices. Happy Thanksgiving!