It’s the day before the Thanksgiving holiday in the US. It’s my favorite holiday (and to a certain extent, my favorite time) of the year. Up until recently, anyway, it’s been the one holiday that is about gathering with family and friends around a table, sharing a great meal, stories, and perhaps a few bottles of wine. I’ve been blessed with a wonderful family, and Thanksgiving dinners are some of my fondest family memories. This year, my wife and I have inherited the tradition of hosting dinner from my Aunt (Auntie!).
We follow a very traditional meal plan; we’re cooking a turkey, and we’ll have many traditional accompaniments. We love to serve and share wine, and feel the wine should be as good and as special as the food.
Many people get hung up on the diversity of the meal. What goes with turkey? Does it also go with the stuffing and the greens? What about the sweet potatoes? There’s no reason to worry; I think the diversity of the meal actually makes it easier to pick wine. The secret: serve something great! A good wine (with a good story), will “go” with everything. I also think that serving wine from the US is fitting given the origin of the holiday, but we’re breaking that guideline a bit this year
Here’s what we’re serving::
All good parties start with Champagne. This is going to be a good party.
Chilean Sauvignon Blanc
I happen to have a few bottles (courtesy of my friends at The Thomas Collective and Wines of Chile). It’s a great pairing with oysters, and some of them have a little richness that will go with an oyster stuffing. They are also fantastic aperitif, of course, and crowd pleasers. Bonus: They tend to be inexpensive.
Most people recommend Riesling, as it’s very food friendly and can have a little sweetness. We’re going with Vouvray this year, as Chenin Blanc has the same qualities, but I think tends to have a bit more richness along with the versatility. Plus, we happen to love it, and it’s often eye opening for folks who haven’t had it before.
I think this is one of the wines you really must have on the table at Thanksgiving. I steer clear of over oaked (typical) California Chardonnay in favor of some more subtle and austere varieties. However, one of the nice things about serving Vouvray is that it can hold it’s own in place of Chardonnay, if you’re trying to lower your SKUs, so to speak.
American Pinot Noir
I struggle to find affordable Pinot from the US that’s good. It is often over extracted, too fruity, and mass produced because everyone saw or heard about ‘Sideways’ and decided Pinot was what the cool kids drink. However, there are some more austere varieties out there. They tend to remain on the fruity side, which is a crowd pleaser, and really are the great versatile food match for the traditional Thanksgiving meal.
In my opinion, this is the ultimate American wine, and should be on the table for the ultimate American holiday. We tend to serve something really special here; something from a vineyard we’ve visited in Napa, something from a vintage we remember. While perhaps not exactly the best food match, there is a lot of richness on the table, and if it’s a wine you love, it’s fun to share.
The most important thing to remember: drink what you love. Drink something that evokes some emotion. Drink something you want to share with people you love.