It never fails. The million dollar question on everyone’s mind around the holidays is, “what wine should I buy for Thanksgiving dinner?” My response is always the same: “depends on what you’re serving.” The problem is, while some of us are having a maple glazed ham with candied yams, others are having a fried turkey with brussels sprouts and stuffing. And some folks are having both of those dinners, combined!
Here’s my advice: Don’t serve expensive wines you’ve been saving for years, or even purchase expensive wine to share with your 90-year-old grandma and aunt Betty who probably won’t appreciate them. Go with wines that are budget friendly, tasty, crowd pleasers that will work with just about anything on your table! Below are a few wines to point you in the right direction.
1. Holiday Nuts with WINE: During the holidays, my grandma always has whole nuts with a nut cracker on the coffee table. Even if you’re not a fan of nuts, the 2007 Jane Ventura Cava is a great way to start out your Thanksgiving feast and serves as the perfect pre-dinner cocktail or aperitif to welcome family and friends to the celebration.
2. Thanksgiving Turkey with WINE: Pick up a bottle of The Velvet Devil Washington State Merlot* to drink alongside your turkey or ham. Its acidity, body and flavors of baking spice and blackberry make an ideal partner for your holiday spread.
*Caution: Avoid serving sweet foods with this wine. A maple glazed ham or sweet potato casserole will make this wine taste sour since it’s high in acid with barely any residual sugar.
3. Meat Lovers' Thanksgiving Dinner with WINE: Not everyone wants white meat on Thanksgiving. I personally love a big, juicy drumstick or piece of beef. These darker meats call for a bigger, fuller bodied wine that can stand up to the fat content of the meat. That’s when I pull out a bottle of the 2007 Domaine de Piaugier Cotes du Rhone Villages Sablet from France. This southern Rhone red wine is a blend of up to 13 grapes but is mostly Grenache-based with some Syrah.
4. Thanksgiving Ham with WINE: Luckily, we aren’t Miss Piggy and can enjoy a deliciously baked maple glazed ham this Thanksgiving. To make the meal even more enjoyable, I’ve paired it with a bottle of the 2010 Domaine Zind-Humbrecht Gewurztraminer (the younger the better) from Alsace, France that even she wouldn’t turn down. Gewurztraminer is the name of the grape and is the perfect white wine to pair with Thanksgiving dinner due to its rich full body, explosive flavors, fruitiness and notes of spice found in the wine.
5. Sweet Potato Casserole with WINE: A wine that does the trick every time is a slightly sweet, German Riesling Spatlese.* The 2006 Ansgar Clusserath Trittenheimer Apotheke Riesling Spatlese from Germany is a great choice. The hint of sweetness in the wine works incredibly well with sweeter dishes like glazed ham and of course, sweet potato casserole.
*Riesling is incredibly versatile with food due to its naturally high acidity and low alcohol level, so it’s sure to work with just about any dish. In addition, guests who don’t often drink wine will also enjoy its touch of sweetness.
6. Thanksgiving Pies with WINE: Now that you’ve figured out what wine to pair with everything from sweet potato casserole to brisket of beef, why not wow your guests even more so by pouring them a glass of dessert wine to accompany an assortment of Thanksgiving pies? I recently sampled the 2007 Jackson-Triggs Vidal Icewine from the Niagara Peninsula of Ontario, Canada with pecan, pumpkin and apple pie and I have to say, the wine was magic with all three!