Thanksgiving is fast approaching, and you might be thinking, “How am I going to get this all done?!” Entertaining and cooking for family and friends can be a bit overwhelming. But, don’t let the worries of which wine to serve add to stress. In fact, make it the fun part of the meal! A good food and wine pairing can elevate your meal and make your spread the talk of the town. Try one of these turkey friendly wines at your festive feast and unwind with a job well done.
The safe bet for most wine pairings is Champagne. Champagne is a sparkling wine from the region of the same name about an hour and a half east of Paris France. In Champagne, you have many styles: classic cuvees, Blanc de Blancs, Blanc de Noir, and rosé. Cuvees are blends of different grapes which is how most Champagne is produced. Blanc de Blanc made from 100% Chardonnay, lean and crisp with emphasis on citrus fruit. Blanc de Noirs is white champagne made with red grapes (Pinot Noir/Pinot Meunier) which offers more of a rich style with focus on red fruit. And then, of course Rosé Champagne that gives us that mouthwatering sensation from the color alone. Rosé counts for less than 3% of the entire region’s production. Your choice should be your preference. Whether you choose to pair it with dinner or use it as an aperitif when guest arrive, drink Champagne! The region is a high production zone, but I would highly recommend looking for the small letters on the bottle RM which stands for Récoltant Manipulant, which are smaller grower producers that only make Champagne from grapes that they grow themselves. Usually Champagne comes with a hefty price tag ($40 – $60). But, these producers essentially make a still wine first then referment the wine again once it’s in bottle. Some RM producers to look out for: Terlant, Chartogne-Taillet, Marie-Courtin and Vilmart & Cie.
Rosé is a great middle ground between choosing white and red. These wines are made through partial maceration or skin contact after the pressing of the grapes. The contact of the red skins in the white must extracts pigment to make the must a pinkish color, but that time on the skin does more than just color the juice. It actually draws out other character like a small amount of tannic structure for texture and fruit flavor, especially if you’re indulging in some of that dark meat and fatty turkey skin. An easy pick is the obvious region of Provence in southern France. But, don’t forget about the Cerasuolo D’Abruzzo in southern Italy made from a local red grape, Montepulciano.
Volnay is a village on Côte de Beaune in Burgundy, France specializing in the red grape, Pinot Noir. Volnay provides the smoothest and most elegant example of this grape that naturally exudes cherry, raspberry, violets, game, and spice; perfect with some dark meat and cranberry sauce. These are medium bodied wines with red fruit and soft tannins. Vintages to look out for are ’02,’05, ’12,’14,’15.
Probably one of the best bangs for your buck. Beaujolais is an appellation in southern Burgundy, France made from the grape Gamay with thin skins and low tannins which translate to light bodied. They have lower alcohol and beautiful herbaceous and floral notes. They usually drink very well a few degrees cooler. So, put them in the refrigerator about 20 minutes before you serve it. For a very light and fresh example, try Beaujolais Noveau. If you are looking for something more bodied and earthier, then go for one of the 10 Beaujolais Crus: Saint-Amour, Juliénas, Chénas, Moulin-à-Vent, Fleurie, Chiroubles, Morgon, Régnié, Côte de Brouilly, Brouilly.
Whatever choices you make this Thanksgiving will be a good one, especially if you’re stepping outside your comfort zone. Experience something new and taste all this world has to offer. Drink Wine.