With Thanksgiving Day fast approaching, I’m sure most of you have planned your holiday meal; but what about the wine? Well, rest assured, we are here to help. There are an infinite number of family menu traditions when it comes to Thanksgiving; but I think there are a few mainstays on which we can rely: Turkey (or fowl of some kind), potatoes in some form, stuffing and gravy. I know there are a multitude of variations on side dishes, for example, in my family it’s baked Fennel. Most of the “mainstays” tend to be rich, viscous and somewhat heavy on the palate – this is why so many have cranberries with their meal, the crisp acidity of the fruit definitely brightens up the palate by stimulating salivary glands and enticing one’s palate to the next bite of food. Your wine and/or beer pairing can offer that same flowing accompaniment while enhancing the dining experience; and for me, offers the perfect excuse to skip the cranberries.
While sparkling wines add a sense of celebratory excitement to your meal, they also pair well with certain flavors and textures. Most offer bright acidity and a fine mousse of bubbles to dance across your palate and lighten the load of holiday fare.
Some of our favorites:
Grognet Blanc de Blancs Champagne – small grower house producing this elegant %100 Chardonnay – $34.99;
L’aulee Sparkling Chenin Blanc – delicate yellow apple with toasted notes from the Loire Valley – $18.99
Jean Paul Brun FRV 100 – 100% Gamay from southern Beaujolais. Fun and flirty, rosy and sweet; this sparkling Gamay flaunts unadulterated fruit delivered with a gentle, playful fizz. FRV has residual sweetness because it was bottled before fermentation was complete — and unlike in traditional methods, the second fermentation is spontaneous using only the lees from the first fermentation. – $25.99
So many choices here, but most important to your decision is bright acidity and fruitiness. It is these two characteristics that are going to give you the perfect pair for a rich, savory, high-fat meal.
Some of our favorites:
Jean Luc Mader Gewürztraminer – this wine, a bit of an anomaly for Alsatian Gewürz, boasts distinct acidity which helps carry the residual sugar and showcases a lovely rose potpourri on the nose, making this a classic Thanksgiving pair – $21.99;
Big Fire Pinot Gris – this is a pure holiday delight at a spectacular value; well balanced acidic structure holding together beautiful fruit notes of lychee, tangerine and white pear with a touch of savory sage – 18.99
Cercius Blanc, Costieres de Nimes (70% Grenache Blanc and 30% Sauvignon Blanc) – this organic wine has a rich, ripe, almost honey-like nose with prominent mineral character. Straw yellow with soft green highlights, medium-bodied and crisp, it pairs well with holiday fare – $15.99
Our in-house standby, Au Bon Climat Sierra Madre Chardonnay – full-bodied style, rich and aromatic but maintained by well-structured acidity. This wine has the body to hold up to heavier, seasoned food and the structure to keep your palate begging for more – $27.99 (on sale from $34.99)
Yes, rose is a classic pairing for the Thanksgiving table; and again, comes in a number of styles.
One of my quick “go-to’s” is:
Champteloup Rose – 100% Grolleau from the Val d’Loire; this is a wine of lovely strawberry, red raspberry, hints of watermelon and just a touch of sweetness – fresh and cheerful at $14.99;
For the more serious rose aficionado:
Clos Cibonne Tibouren Grand Cru Classe from Provence. This is a wine of great depth and character, from the indigenous Tibouren grape aged more than a year for notes of cherry liqueur with savory herb aromas and hints of wild mushroom –$24.99
Alas, for the traditionalist we may be the only store left with a few bottles of Domaine Tempier Bandol Rose, $59.99
Here, again, you’ll want to go with a wine that offers subtle tannins, firm acidity and bold fruitiness to mirror any overindulgent dishes.
Immediately my mind drifts to Lapierre Morgon Beaujolais. Mathieu Lapierre stepped into the large boots left by his father Marcel, who passed after the 2010 harvest; but he has continued the tradition of late harvesting and long carbonic macerations from the organic vineyards of old vine Gamay. The wine shows black cherry, black raspberry fruit with delicate floral aromatic and clear minerality speaking to the granitic terroir of its origin. Truly the perfect accompaniment to your holiday meal (92pts: Robert Parker) – $31.99 ($69.99 1.5L bottles)
I would also venture to the Piemonte for my holiday pair – Cascina del Santaurio Barbera D’Alba, this Southern Season exclusive from Piano Piano imports is classic Barbera – firm acidity, round tannins, ripe morello cherry, violets, tomato leaf and delicate truffle notes to finish – $18.99
For a twist in tradition, why not try something Spanish? We have large selection of Rioja, Ribera del Duero and Toro wines in house – our latest purchase is the Gran Cermeno Crianzo from Toro. This wine has sexy aromas of blackberry, cherry compote, violet and cola, with a smoky mineral underpinning. “Smells like a suave Barossa shiraz and tastes like one as well. Pliant, juicy and nicely focused, offering sweet dark berry flavors without rough edges. The finish leaves sweet cola and vanilla notes behind, along with an exotic note of candied flowers.” (90pts: S. Tanzer) – $14.99 (on sale from $19.99)
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*prices and availability are subject to change.