Six stellar Thanksgiving wines to savor on Turkey Day
You can try to deny it all you want, but Thanksgiving is a mere nine days away. That's right: In exactly one week and two days, you'll be up to your eyeballs in gravy, green bean casserole and drama. If your family is anything like mine, you'll wise up and plan to face the day armed with copious amounts of wine.
There are nearly as many opinions regarding the ideal bottles to serve with your T-day feast as there are variations on stuffing recipes. It's doubtful that you'll be able to choose wines that will get along with everything on the table, never mind please the umpteen different palates presented by each of your guests. My recommendation? Pick a bubbly, two whites, two reds, and focus on how not to burn the dinner rolls (again).
The bubbly: If you didn't have time to peruse last week's post on bubbles that won't break the bank, now would be an excellent time to do so. Since Thanksgiving dinner actually does qualify as a special occasion, do the right thing and pop a bottle or two to get the party started. The nice thing about Champagne, cava or prosecco is that they taste great AND they're less filling. Given the feast that's in store, don't make the mistake of filling up on beers or kill your palate by starting out with a red. The very best part? Sparkling wines will go with everything from a crudité platter to oysters on the half shell. For a classic, crisp, always on the money bottle, go with the Moet & Chandon White Star ($30). And if you like to get fancy, add a few drops of the addictive-like-crack Lillet Blanc or even a simple slice of fresh pear to the glass before filling it to the top with bubbly.
The whites: The idea here is to make sure you've got something dry (to stand in as an apertif wine for those unseemly non-Champagne drinking types) and something on the sweeter side that'll work with some of the trickier dishes that are bound to be on the table (gravy, vegetables, etc.). For the dry wine, go with the ever-so-versatile grüner veltliner, known for its near-magical pairing abilities. You'll be mad for the fresh, clean flavors in the Loimer Grüner Veltliner 2008 ($20), which just so happens to have enough oomph to take it from the pre-dinner cocktail hour through the last bite of turkey. Mix things up a bit with an off-dry riesling, which is absolutely ridiculous with things like mashed sweet potatoes or a sausage-laced stuffing with dried fruits. A favorite is the Bonny Doon Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling 2009 ($14) practically bursting with lush peach, apricot and subtle spicy-ish notes. And just because the word "sweet" is on the label, don't freak out -- think fresh, fruity sweetness, not the Splenda-sugar coma-inducing variety.
The reds: Okay, so this is where you need to get serious, because absolutely no one wants to suffer through an afternoon/evening with their not-so-favorite sibling or cousin without a kick-ass red wine to help smooth things out. From a pairing perspective, it's worth giving some thought to how you're planning to cook the bird. Are you roasting, grilling or frying it? Keep in mind that the more intense your cooking method, the bigger the wine you can stand to pour. If you're keepin' it old-school and oven-roasting your Tom, then go with a slightly softer red that won't overpower the poultry. An elegant pinot like the Roots Winery 'Estate' Pinot Noir 2008 ($25) is the bottle that could keep you from losing your shit when your Uncle Charles starts telling the story about the time he jumped out of a plane/met the president/climbed Everest for the millionth time. For the turkey that'll meet its destiny in either a cauldron of boiling oil or over the roaring flames of your barbecue grill, your best bet is something equally hard-core: the Lo Tengo Mendoza Malbec 2009 ($12) or the Antigal "Uno" Malbec 2008 ($18). Don't you even worry that a malbec might be a little too much wine for your bird: both of these wines marry ripe berry fruits (ideal for turkey, BTW) and an ideal balance of acidity and tannins to take on the cheesiest of potato gratins.
Piqued over what to pair with Thanksgiving dessert? Next week's edition of Swirlgirl has you covered.