All families have their own Thanksgiving traditions, and everyone’s turkey dinners are a little different. In my family, everyone contributes a bottle (or two) of wine along with their sweet potato casserole; however, some hosts may choose to provide the wine for the evening, reserving the gifted wine for future consumption and pouring their carefully matched bottles with the turkey.
Either way, there is no need to be overly fussy when pairing wine with a turkey dinner; for the most part the flavours are fairly consistent and accommodating to a wide range of wines. Listed below are a few tips and suggestions of how to make the most of your holiday meal.
Thanksgiving dinners have a tendency to take up the majority of the day, so when opening numerous bottles of wine, try (in general) to pour from: light to heavy, white to red, young to aged.
Save your cellared prizes and aged wines for another celebration. They will over-take your meal, and probably not be as appreciated as they should be when serving multiple bottles over the course of the evening.
Reds that will pair well with turkey include Pinot Noir or Beaujolais, which will be young and light, with more fruit to offset the heavy and filling feast. Juicy, berry filled Zinfandels will also balance the richness of a turkey dinner. Avoid overly dry and tannic reds, they may taste bitter and be overwhelmed by the sweetness of the side dishes.
We would recommend the following two reds which have been featured in WineCollective. And as a special Thanksgiving treat, a WineCollective tasting card for the 2009 Loredona Pinot Noir [PDF]. WineCollective members receive a hard copy tasting note for every wine they receive!
Most whites would be a great choice with your turkey and its accoutrements; Gewürztraminer, Pinot Gris, or Chenin Blanc will offer a refreshing and crisp balance to your meal. Ensure that the white you are selecting is higher in acidity, and dry to best pair with everything on the table from buttery mashed potatoes to the tart cranberry sauce.
Your sparkling wine can last the whole dinner through, from cheese log to pumpkin pie!
As a host, you can never be completely sure what sides will end up sitting on the table next to your turkey, so use the tips to help you decide between, and the order of the bottles that have been brought to the table. Most importantly, if you are a guest at a turkey table, keep in mind these simple suggestions to best complement the host’s meal, and don’t be offended if your wine is saved for another evening.
“More important than the food pairing is the person with whom you drink the wine.” -Christian Moueix