Wine tips for Thanksgiving!

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THANKSGIVING TABLE — Picking a wine to go with an ordinary meal is usually pretty straight forward. The meals are not complex and it is easy to go with the old mantra: ‘Red wine with red meat and White wine with poultry or fish.’

There are a lot of variations on this theme but now the mantra is: ‘Drink what appeals to you.’


The problem with Thanksgiving and Christmas is the large number of disparate tastes associated with the amazing variety of foods served and this doesn’t even begin to address desserts.

The main meat is usually turkey — either bought or hunted — and some folks serve goose or duck. A few people have venison as a side dish because they have it and like the flavor — as do I.

Side dishes range from fresh oysters, shrimp and other appetizers to veggies such as sweet potatoes, mashed white potatoes, Brussels Sprouts, string bean casserole, stuffing with gravy, cranberry sauce or any other veg that your family likes.

The taste profile of this style meal runs the gamut of sweet to savory to salty and acidic. You are beginning to see what the problem is!

What do you serve with this type of meal that will not break your pocketbook and still deliver the satisfaction that a wine properly paired with the food can bring to the Thanksgiving and also the Christmas table (as both of these meals can be similar)?

I will write a separate article about Christmas and New Year dinners.

I have been hosting Thanksgiving Dinner for my family and friends for more than 50 years. The one thing I have learned is to know what wines the guests are partial to. There is no point having the perfect wine and food pairing if everyone hates the wine.

One of the wines that I like to pair with Thanksgiving Dinner is Beaujolais Nouveau from France. A Red wine made from the Gamay grape, this wine is released around the third Thursday in November.

Fermented for only a few weeks, this wine is very fruity with light acidity. It pairs well with most of the dishes served at Thanksgiving except sweet desserts. A normal size bottle should retail for about $10-$11. Last year the only store in our area to sell the wine was Harris-Teeter.

My next suggestion would be a Cava, which is a sparkling wine from Spain. This would be Jaume Serra Cristiliano Brut or Extra Dry. Oddly enough the Extra Dry is slightly sweeter than the Brut. I am partial to the Extra Dry but both will pair with everything on the Thanksgiving table including sweet desserts. Better yet, this wine can stand alone before and after dinner. Figure about $9 per bottle.

A few years ago, a brand named Dark Horse made its first appearance. They make decent wines from California in a number of varieties. In keeping with the latest trend in the wine world, I suggest the Dark Horse Rose.

This is a relatively dry, crisp wine and is NOT the sweet Rose you might remember from years ago. Rose wines have been among the fastest growing segment of wine sales over the last two years or so. When you might have seen 2-3 bottles in the wine aisle of any store, now there are 10 or more selections in most wine stores from a number of countries.

Due to its crispness and dryness, this wine will pair with most of the foods presented on the Thanksgiving table. It is relatively low in alcohol and can stand on its own prior to and after dinner. At $7.99, this wine is a bargain. Take advantage of the Harris-Teeter ‘case sale’ (if possible) and the price can get down to around $5.50 per bottle.

My last suggestion for a Thanksgiving wine is a Syrah. The flavor profile is spicy, which allows this wine to complement most of the food at your table but definitely not sweet desserts. A dark red wine with a good after taste. This wine goes well with turkey and game. Good with most veggies but not with those Brussels Sprouts.

There are many brands of Syrah’s for sale and most of them are pricey. Dark Horse delivers a decent wine at an excellent price. This wine is a little harder to find but worth it if you can.

Finally, I suggest a one-two combination! Try to Beaujolais Nouveau and the Spanish Cava. Decent wines, at a good price. It doesn’t get much better than that for Thanksgiving!

As usual, comment, suggestions or questions can be directed to me via-e-mail