Thanksgiving Wine Pairing 2017
By Jimmy Quaile, Certified Sommelier
The long-standing rule of matching wine and food – red wine with meat and white wine with fish – actually has a scientific explanation. Then again, I doubt too many people eat meat or fish without a compliment of side dishes…especially on such a gastronomic feast as Thanksgiving. So how do you pair the perfect wine for a meal that is a minefield of competing tastes and flavors? Eliminate the biggest one – the turkey!
Thanksgiving turkey being fairly neutral in flavor will pair nicely with a lot of different wines: red, white, and rosé. The real struggle is with the side dishes, and Thanksgiving dinner is more about the sides than the main dish (in my humble opinion). A simple way to go is to pick the side with the most distinct flavor since that will influence the rest of the food on the plate, and match that intensity with the intensity of the wine. Another idea is to look at the whole plate. For example, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, and chunks of apples in the stuffing all have sweet elements that can make dry wines taste thin and bitter. The answer: a white wine with a touch of residual sugar or a low-tannin red wine. Now I know what you’re thinking; “You Sommeliers over-think this whole wine and food pairing thing!” – and you may be right. You certainly can drink your favorite wine and leave it at that. But with just a little research or a few recommendations you have the chance to make even the wine something to be thankful for.
What is the difference between New World and Old World wines?
“Old World” refers to Europe, while “New World” refers to everything else. Although the difference goes well beyond geography, for the most part, Old World wines favor tradition, are lighter bodied, have better balance, and are thought to be better with food. Alternatively, New World wines favor innovation, tend to be more full-bodied and fruit-forward.
On such an American holiday you may want to drink all domestic wines. However, if you’d like to be more adventurous, I’ve added some choices from around the world.
New World: Roederer Estate Brut $23.98
Old World: Charles de Cazanove Champagne Brut $22.98
New World: King Estate Pinot Gris $15.98
Old World: Pasqua 11 Minutes Rosé $17.99
Soup & Salad
New World: L’Ecole Chenin Blanc $17.98
Old World: Anselmi San Vincenzo $13.98
White – Pewsey Vale Dry Riesling $14.98
Red – Hahn SLH Pinot Noir $18.98
White – Philippe Ravier Les Abymes Jacquère $9.99
Red – R. Lopez de Heredia Vina Cubillo Crianza $25.99
New World – Airfield Estate Late Harvest Riesling $15.99
Old World – Firriato L’ECRU Passito $29.99