Statistics show that there is no holiday at which Americans drink more wine than Thanksgiving. Wine merchants compete for this increased demand by running some of their best specials during Thanksgiving week. You can find some excellent deals when you buy wine for Thanksgiving.
If you’re really a stickler for getting just the right wine for your food, that can be a real challenge at Thanksgiving, since it is common for the Thanksgiving meal to have an unusually wide variety of foods, from white and dark turkey meat, to sweet yams, to tart cranberries, to rich mashed potatoes, to pumpkin pie.
There are some choices that go at least reasonably well with most Thanksgiving foods, or another option is to serve multiple wines at different stages of the meal.
But whether your strategy is to find a “one size fits all” or to match multiple wines with multiple dishes, here are some Thanksgiving favorites to consider:
With white wine, you’re looking for something dry, refreshing, and a little tangy and fruity, with well-balanced acidity. Chardonnay wines are a popular choice, but may be a little intense for the Thanksgiving meal.
* Gewurtztraminer: “Gewurtz” is German for “spiced.” These wines have an appealing aroma and spicy edge to them, making them a nice pairing with turkey and gravy.
* Pinot Grigio: A solid choice that goes well with stronger foods such as garlic, onions, herbs, and high-fat dishes.
* Riesling: Riesling wines have a nice fruitiness and clarifying acidity that makes them go well with spicy stuffing, as well as turkey and most Thanksgiving dishes.
* Sauvignon blanc: Light and crisp, with a bit of a citrus flavor with grassy or herb undertones. Goes well with turkey and mashed potatoes.
With red wine, you’re looking for a lighter wine, not so heavy in tannins, that won’t overpower the taste of your food. The popular Cabernet wines are a little tart and high in tannins to fit as well as some others on Thanksgiving.
* Beaujolais: A light, dry, fruity wine that goes well with turkey. Unlike most reds, it can be served slightly chilled.
* Pinot Noir: A nice fruity choice with slight earthy or smoky undertones, goes quite well with turkey and stuffing.
* Syrah: A spicy, peppery wine that goes well with turkey and herb-laden stuffing. The Australian version of this wine is called Shiraz.
* Zinfandel: For those open to a fuller bodied red, Zinfandel wines are hearty enough to go well with the spicy, bitter, or sweet flavors of Thanksgiving.
Besides the whites and the reds, don’t overlook the possibility of a rosé or a sparkling wine with your Thanksgiving meal.
For rosé, go with a crisp, dry, light, and fruity wine, served chilled.
For sparkling wine, you want dry instead of sweet (except perhaps with the dessert). Look for a sparkling wine labeled “brut,” or if you prefer something a little fruitier, “extra dry.”
The main thing, though, is to familiarize yourself with different wines and go with what tastes best to you with your food. Despite the pretentions of those who would claim otherwise, ultimately the right wine choice for you and your guests is whichever you happen to enjoy most.
Eric Asimov, “Gathering at the Table, Bottles in Hand.” New York Times.
Stacy Slinkard, “Thanksgiving Wines.” About.com.
“Thanksgiving Wine Guide.” Better Homes and Gardens.