The Truth About Wine and Thanksgiving

Turkey No wine "GOES" with Thanksgiving Dinner. Give up the ghost. Don't try to match a wine with this stupendous meal. The task is without reward.

Sure, they'll tell you the wine to serve is Gewerztraminer because it's spicy character will work well with the roast turkey and maybe even with that stuffing. It might.

Some will tell you to go with the Pinot Noir. This wine, not being to big and massive and having any number of aromas and flavors associated with it, can be said to pair up nicely not only with the Bird and stuffing but maybe even with the Cranberry sauce. Whatever.

See, the problem is this: If you are serving a traditional American Thanksgiving Dinner you are going to have so many different dishes on the table there's no way one wine will work with everything, including the Turkey, stuffing of many different types, the mashed potatoes, the green beans, the cranberry sauce, the rolls, the Brussels sprouts, the salads of various historic appellation and who know what else.

And what the hell are you going to serve to go with that "fantasia" mix of marshmallow, little oranges, coconut and God knows what else?

But it's all good and here's why:

Because no one wine truly works with this meal, you are at liberty to pull out ANY WINE YOU WANT, serve it and make it work! That means the wine can match the mood, the people, the season…anything. It means you can pull out that wine you've been saving to impress your new boyfriend or the wine you want to pawn off on the unsuspected.

Bottom line: Thanksgiving is the Black Hole of wine…EVERYTHING CAN GET SUCKED DOWN INTO ITS CULINARY VORTEX!

Me? I'll be serving a Mayo Family Winery Cabernet, a 2002 Failla Pinot and Chardonnay and a Bucklin Old Hill Ranch Grenache (very rare!!). Besides these highly coveted bottlings, I suspect we'll be sampling Wiliam Selyem Pinots, and chards, an Adrian Fog Pinot or two a few Napa Cabs, a Port or two and who knows what else. And the good thing is that it's just not possible that whatever wine is being poured won't match with something that is on the Thanksgiving table.

And for those of you wondering, the answer is "YES". Cocktails are perfectly suited for this Holiday. My recommendation, however, is to do what I do: as soon as the guest arrives ask them, specifically, "what cocktail can I mix for you?"

I tend to think the Bloody Mary is a nice mid afternoon/Pre-Feast drink. The Sazerac, being an American concoction and having two my favorite spirits among its ingredients, is also a fine choice. But really, any cocktail will do. There's nothing wrong with with assuring your guests have a tiny little buzz on as they enjoy this wonderful holiday and it's lovely traditions.

So there is is. Don't waste any time trying to match the wine to the food. It won't go well. Choose the wine based on what you want to drink.


Posted In: Wine Education


6 Responses

  1. Randy Watson - November 26, 2009

    Couldn’t agree more! Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Samantha - November 27, 2009

    Champagne. Does it go? After a few glasses….who cares?

  3. Hampers - November 27, 2009

    Thanks for sharing the Truth About Wine and Thanksgiving. It was nice going through it. enjoyed it very much.

  4. Dylan - November 27, 2009

    Eat, drink, and be merry. Yesterday hit on all three points quite well.

  5. Morton Leslie - November 28, 2009

    The solution is forget the turkey and crap like the sweet potatoes with marshmallows, cranberry sauce or fantasia. The purpose of Thanksgiving is a feast, not thawing out a $6.00, 16 pound fowl from Safeway that was pumped up with cheap commercial feed, hormones and antibiotics and then serving it with sweet over the top dishes that make you flatulent for a week.
    The only thing good about the traditional feast are the mash potatoes, bread stuffing and gravy. Keep them, but instead braise a lean, range fed, beef brisket for six hours in a half gallon of beef stock, herbs, onions and turnips, the remaining stock cooked down into demi glace with fresh cranberries. Worked for me, and given there were two empty bottles of Champagne, three empty Claret and a partial decanter of Taylor’s, and only four diners, it couldn’t have been too wine unfriendly.

  6. wine club - December 1, 2009

    I think next year I’ll bring a bottle of champagne to start. We enjoyed a Copain James Berry Cab this year which was quite nice….although to be honest a Pinot would be a better pairing with the turkey.

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