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Wines for Giving Thanks PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jacqueline Coleman, BT Contributor   
November 2017

CPix_Vino_11-17an you smell the turkey roasting in the oven yet? It’s hard to believe that we’re already thinking about Thanksgiving dinner, but we’ve reached November and it’s time to kick off the holiday season.

Between the family gatherings, employee appreciation and holiday parties, and friends giving dinners, this time of year can create wine-choice anxiety in any seasoned dinner party host. There are so many options for each meal course when preparing a traditional Thanksgiving dining experience. From cranberries to stuffing (do you call it dressing?) to turkey and ham, we certainly have a challenge when choosing the right wine to set at the table.

Pairing a wine with your meal has more to do with the weight of each course than anything else. Make sure that the varietal and the dish are equally matched in weight, meaning that a heavier red wine will pair better with a heavier, fattier food, and a crisp white wine will balance something baked in lemon or basic herbs. It’s not just about red versus white wine foods.

I recommend a light red wine with your juicy turkey and cranberry, and a heavier white, like a Chardonnay, for any dish with buttery gravy, including Grandma’s stuffing and mashed potatoes.

If you’re stuck on what bottle to put on the Thanksgiving table, we’ve got some American red and white wine suggestions to try with your dinner.

I know that many food and wine pairing experts cringe at the thought of a heavy Chardonnay as a food-pairing wine, but Thanksgiving is the perfect meal to bring out this classic varietal with some oak. The 2015 Francis Coppola Diamond Collection Chardonnay is a terrific addition to your turkey and stuffing. With a great balance of crisp pear on the nose and palate, finished with a hint of vanilla spice from a bit of barrel aging, I’d argue that this wine would pair just fine with a buttery gravy and soft, juicy turkey breast.

For something a little lighter, but still with a lovely smooth and refreshing finish for a Chardonnay, try the 2016 Ste. Michelle Vineyards Chardonnay from Washington State. Chateau Ste. Michelle makes a lovely bright and balanced Chardonnay, good for any occasion.

For drinkers of light red wine, try the 2009 Montevina Barbera out of California. This Italian specialty made in the U.S.A. is a little more fruit-forward than an Italian Barbera, but incredibly balanced with ruby red berry aromas, and great acidity for pairing with a spiced ham and cranberries combo. Very low tannins make this red a nice sipping wine for before supper, too.

If your dinner encompasses some heavier dishes that require a little more weight to your wine, serve a 2014 14 Hands Stampede Red Blend or the 2014 Leaping Lizard Merlot. 14 Hands is one of my favorite easy-to-find labels out of Washington State, and this red blend doesn’t disappoint. This is a wine with heavier tannins and a fuller body, but smooth and balanced with ripe red fruit on the nose and stampeding down your tongue.

Leaping Lizard California Merlot expresses deep black currant and chocolate aromas, with a decent finish for an economical wine. Because this is a pleasantly smooth Merlot with ripe fruit flavor and a good balance of lower tannins and acidity, I would even suggest serving it before dinner with a spicy black olive, sopressa, and cheese plate.

The last couple of wines are for my food and wine pairing traditionalists. Washington State’s 2016 Rock View Riesling is a steal at $9.99. This fruit-forward, balanced wine makes for an ideal pairing partner with most anything you’ll have on the table at Thanksgiving. The acidity is perfect to break down each tasty component of your dish, and the fruity apricot and candied green apple flavors will happily guide the cheeses, fruits, and nuts of your meal down a happy path through your palate.

For a wine that’s a little drier than a Riesling, try the 2014 Windhaven Pinot Gris also out of Washington. This wine allows a lighter, more refreshing take on the fruit flavors, while offering strong acidity that makes for a great match for food. If you prefer a plain turkey and less-spiced side dishes, add a crispy clean Pinot Gris to your turkey day menu.


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