The day of the feast is just around the corner and if you didn’t know by now, the old rule about white wine with white meat and red wine with red meat is passe. I have seen recommendations from the “experts” ranging from Cabernet Sauvignon to Zinfandel, Sauvignon Blanc to Dry Riesling which only underscores the foundation of all gastronomic pursuits where it all comes down to what YOU like. But that being said, there are certain considerations in pairing wine with a dinner as diverse of flavors like the Thanksgiving spread.
Think about it; you have the subtle flavors and aromas of your green bean casseroles, turnips and mashed potatoes, but then you have the pungent spices of a great giblet dressing, and the somewhat challenging flavors of the various types of cranberry relishes, sauces, salads.
So what wine goes with it all? In my opinion, nothing goes with everything really well (except possibly a good sparkling wine). On top of that you have the additional factors of styles of wine made from the same grape. All Cabernets are not made alike; all Riesling are not made alike, etc. So just grabbing a wine because it’s made from a particular grape can be disappointing.
I find the most difficult element in the dinner is the cranberry sauce. Take a bite of such a relish, then sip a Cab or Zin or Pinot Noir and you’re likely to get a rather yucky, bitter taste in your mouth with an accompanying mouth feel that says, Eww! What to do?
It’s pretty simple really. Select a couple wines you know you like. Give yourself some variety; a Pinot Noir and a dry Riesling will give you some diversity. If you don’t like the one with what you’re eating, go to the other one. What I find is that usually nearly everything on my table will go with a particular wine like a Zinfandel or Pinot Noir for example–everything except the cranberry sauce! So, just don’t follow a bite of cranberries with a slosh of wine! Take some potatoes and gravy first and then enjoy the nice cleansing acid of the wine and nice fruit to follow. Pretty profound huh?
Whatever you do this Thanksgiving spend a little more on the wine you buy. Why demean such a work of love as the Thanksgiving feast with inferior wine? And finally, remember that we will all be sitting down to tables over flowing with food and most of us will eat so much we will hurt. Many in the world do not enjoy such bounty and while we are gathered with loved ones, our troops are fighting a war so that we may eat without fear of harm. Give thanks to the One who has smiled on our undertakings. Then, raise a glass!