Everyone, from the casual wine drinker to top sommeliers, has different thoughts about Thanksgiving Day wine pairings. Those who think the most important part of choosing wine is determining what will go with turkey generally gravitate towards middle of the road selections, light reds like Beaujolais Nouveau or Pinot Noir, or fuller whites like Chardonnay. These wines add an element of moisture to the chronically dry Thanksgiving turkey, have enough body to elevate the bird, and yet are light enough to not overpower.
Turkey is no more than a clean surface for highlighting the powerful sweet and savory flavors found in Thanksgiving side dishes. Turkey may be the centerpiece, but the really terrific flavors are in the sides. Wines to match the sides, from mashed potatoes to stuffing, should be light in body, yet complex enough that they can work with a wide variety of flavors. Put both whites and reds on the table, so guests can try both, and help themselves to whichever they prefer. Here’s our wine suggestions for the perfect Thankgiving Day meal:
Leon Beyer Gewurztraminer, Alsace 2003 – The gingery-pear flavor compliments the sweet tang of cranberries, the toastiness of nuts and the licorice-like flavor of fennel.
Furthermore Pinot Noir, Sonoma 2008 – Their Pinot Noir has a Wine Spectator rating of 92, so it’s not a surprise that we adore Furthermore. With a velvety cherry profile and light floral aromas, this light wine pairs perfectly with turkey.
Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Chalk Hill, Sonoma 2003 – I prefer the lush tropical fruit of this new world Chardonnay to compliment the richness of the sweet potatoes, plus there’s plenty of toasty oak which has gorgeous affinity with the truffle oil.
Jacquesson Blanc de Blancs Brut NV Champagne, France – One of our favorite blanc de blancs, meaning made from 100% Chardonnay grapes, on the market. It’s complex, yet delicate and racy.
Ravenswood Belloni Vineyard Zinfandel, Sonoma 2003 – The Belloni single vineyard contains some of the county’s oldest Zin vines. The chocolatey-fig flavors and scents are rich, and the finish is endless.
Rivetti Moscato d’Asti La Spinetta, Italy 2004 – The refreshing apricot-honeysuckle flavor of this wine are perfect for dessert, simply fantastic with pumpkin and apple pie.