By Merrill Fisher
LYONS – In some ways, choosing a single wine for your holiday meal is difficult, given the great variety of foods and flavors – white and dark meat, sweet yams, tart cranberries, buttery mashed potatoes, stuffing made with any number of ingredients and spicy pumpkin pie for dessert. You might want to serve a little of several different types of wine for each dish or to pick one good all-purpose wine.
The most important consideration is the wine’s taste, and how that complements what you’re serving and what you like. There are no cast-in-stone rules for picking the right red or white wine. Whether you favor whites or reds, it’s always true that lighter, livelier, less complex wines go better with the traditional Thanksgiving feast than heavier, more complicated ones.
When pairing food and wine, think about the four basic taste components your tongue recognizes: salty, sweet, bitter and sour. The tastes of the food can reveal the ideal wine selection for your holiday meal. Here’s a brief list of wines that are perfect with turkey and all the trimmings.
The fine bubbly bite of a good sparkling wine makes any event more lively and special. Serve a flute or two as a starter as guests are arriving or at the table; sparkling wine is a wonderful companion for food. If you’re serving a sparkling wine with your meal, be sure it’s labeled brut (which means it is dry)
and not a sweet sparkling wine such as an Asti Spumante. Prices vary but you can find a highly rated bubbly that won’t break the bank. Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut is but one example
Though the standby white wine for many is Chardonnay, generally, the oakiness and intensity of most Chardonnays is not ideal for the Thanksgiving menu. Consider instead white wines that are refreshing, tangy, and fruity, such as: Viognier: Floral and fruity, with essences of peach, apricot, and pear. Low in acidity, Cline North Coast Viognier is a great example.
Gewurztraminer: Can be dry or sweet. The German word gewurtz means “spiced”. These wines are highly aromatic with floral touches and spice notes such as cloves or nutmeg. Chateau Ste Michelle Gewurztraminer delivers in abundance.
Riesling: Can be dry or sweet; spicy, fruity flavor with touches of peaches or apricots and a floral fragrance. The Pacific Rim label has a lovely assortment of Rieslings for every palate.
Yes, you can serve red wine with turkey breast. You may not want to serve cabernet because it’s generally too overwhelming and high in tannins to match well with turkey, but you can serve a lighter red. In fact, it’s a red wine that has long been the classic choice for Thanksgiving because its light berry
brightness contrasts well with the heartiness of the traditional menu. But red wine doesn’t stop there.
Pinot noir is a good choice for turkey. The younger wines are fruity with essence of plums, strawberries, cherries and raspberries. The older wines have a smoky edge to them. Pinot noirs can be served chilled slightly. The Sonoma Chime Pinot Noir is a lovely example of this varietal and you’ll want more than just sip.
Syrah/shiraz (also called shiraz if it comes from Australia) has strong spice and black pepper qualities. Older syrahs are fruitier, with some smokiness.
Zinfandel has lots of intense, plummy, jammy flavors with spicy or peppery notes. Ravenswood Za Zin Zinfandel is sure to spice things up.
Beaujolais is light and dry with fresh, fruity flavors. Choose more recent vintages and serve it slightly chilled. Duboeuf Beaujolias Villages is a perfect choice for an all-around turkey day treat.
Between Red and White
Rosé is crisp, light, and fruity, this lovely light pink wine (much drier than syrupy white zinfandel) might be just the thing to serve with a hearty meal. Serve it chilled. Routas Rose is crisp, light and dry; a perfect complement for the meal or as a sipping treat.
You can choose Muscat, which can be white, light, and slightly sweet or dark and quite sweet. It is perfumy and musky, with essence of oranges. Served it chilled.
Port can be sweet, it’s a fairly heavy fortified wine. Younger ports are fruitier. Older ports are less sweet, tawny in color, and have a nuttier flavor from longer aging in wood. The Marietta Dessert Port is to die for – really.
You can come back to riesling or gewurztraminer in their sweeter incarnations if you served them with dinner, or break out a new bottle with the pumpkin pie.
Asti Spumante is a sweet or semisweet sparkling wine from Italy that should be served well chilled.
With so many wines to choose from, picking any one of the above will start you off on a most enjoyable dinning experience. From all of us at Redstone Liquor, bon appetite!
Merrill Fisher is the owner of Redstone Liquor, located on East Main St. in Lyons Village Central Plaza. The store carries a wide variety of specialty wines, liquors, beer and mixes. Fisher is very knowledgeable in fine wine selection. For more information, call 303-823-9006.Back to Top