Monday, November 21, 2016

What to drink on Thanksgiving

Image result for thanksgiving dinner tableThe big day is rapidly approaching. Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday! A day to gather to give thanks for all the special people in our lives and for all that we have. I like having a day where we celebrate all that. And the food isn’t bad either!

The food is of course the star, but what you serve to drink is equally important.  We take the time to carefully select how we’ll prepare the bird, what side dishes we’ll make, what hors d’oeuvres we’ll put out and what kinds of pies we’ll bake, so should we take care what we serve to drink.

Now, I’m going to make a number of assumptions. First, I’m going to assume we’re talking about wine, not mixed drinks or non-alcoholic beverages. Next, I’m going to assume you’re serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal, which usually means turkey.  Now you may serve ham, or goose, or cornish game hens, or Turducken or whatever that wacky thing is, or God-forbid some vegetarian fake “turkey” tofu roll thing (which, by the way, I’ve tried and is the most disgusting thing ever!) so I realize that turkey isnt the only thing people eat at Thanksgiving, but it’s what most people eat, so that’s what we’re going with here.

A special meal deserves a special wine, but that doesn’t mean expensive, necessarily. It just means good. While expensive usually does mean good, it doesn't always. Taste is subjective, after all. Naturally you can do whatever you like, and heed the advice of any of the “experts” online or in wine shops, but since this is my blog, I’m going to tell you what I like, and why.

Image result for pinot noir grapesIn my opinion the best wine to serve alongside a roasted turkey is Pinot Noir. Not just because it’s my favorite varietal, but because it’s so very well suited to roasted bird. Roasting results in a heavier flavor profile than other preparation methods, so an aromatic, fruit-forward white like Riesling or Gewuertztraminer, or a juicy red like Zinfandel would also work. Chardonnay is perhaps the last wine most experts would recommend because dry wines can die in the presence of all the fruit, sugar, and salt that is part of the typical Thanksgiving meal. A touch of sweetness, ergo the Riesling and Gewuertztraminer, makes a much better choice than Chard. If you absolutely cannot stand the thought of a red or a slightly sweet white, were you to prepare your bird a bit differently, let’s say with a citrusy note, an acidic, slightly nutty Italian white or Chenin Blanc could be a good choice. If your gravy is deep and dark in color or contains red wine, then I would recommend a Zinfandel. However, if you’re simply preparing the bird without much hoo-ha and doing a lighter gravy, even with the addition of white wine, Pinot Noir is the ticket.

With flavors ranging from cranberries to black cherries, this grape is ideal for Thanksgiving because of its fruit-forward nature. The lush fruit component pairs well with many of the typical side dishes of the holiday.

The Pinot Noir grape is delicate, and requires a careful hand to coax out its potential. It requires a winemaker who really understands the complexity of the grape. To better understand what I mean, here’s a scene from one of my favorite movies, Sideways, where Maya asks Miles why he’s “so into Pinot Noir."

And then, of course, there’s Maya’s reason for why she loves wine!

Clearly this is the moment Miles falls in love with Maya!

Given the tradition of the day, it seems fitting that we pick an American wine, since it would seem sacrilegious to do otherwise. I am particularly fond of La Crema Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast) or just about anything from the Russian River Valley in California.  The best Pinots come from regions with chalky soil and cooler night time temperatures. Some of the most notable regions for Pinot Noir are the Sonoma coast, Russian River Valley, Central Coast, Monterey County, Santa Cruz Mountains and the Carneros District of Napa and Sonoma. That’s just California! In Oregon, the Willamette Valley produces some excellent pinots. Naturally there are many outstanding pinot noirs from Italy, Germany, France, of course, and New Zealand, but this holiday we are sticking to US wines.

If you’re looking for a wine that will work well this holiday, you can’t go wrong with Pinot Noir. Just another thing I am thankful for this Thanksgiving: Pinot!

A votre sante, to your health! And Happy Thanksgiving!

1 comment :

  1. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and enjoy your food and wine!


Print Friendly