Thanksgiving Wines to go with the Bounty of the Season
The holiday season can be a tricky time of year for wine pairings. Let’s look at the bounty of these foods and the many different flavors that come with such feasts. On Thanksgiving, there is turkey of course, which has a tough time standing up to wines with good intensity.
Then, there is the cavalcade of starches that put us all to sleep; the sweet potatoes, the stuffing, which comes with sausage, sage or oysters, then the buttery mashed potatoes loaded with creamy gravy. Clearly, these starches can be tricky to pair with wine based on the different flavors they possess. Lastly, the tart cranberry, which comes in many forms. It’s a sauce, a compote, or just a cylinder of wobbling jelly right out of the can. So, what are the options when choosing a Thanksgiving wine?
I recommend a list of three wines to narrow down that work well for the Thanksgiving table.
First of all Champagne or Sparkling wine goes with almost anything. The effervescence of the bubbly wine seems to help it stand up to most flavors without overpowering. Also, the natural acidity of these wines helps cut through the richness of traditional recipes in a way that allows the true flavors to shine.
The second wine that does well at the holiday table is a slightly sweet Kabinett Riesling. The high salt content in Holiday meals like this combines well with a salty-sweet combination of the Riesling. The balance of the two works very well together, even if you're not a fan of sweet wine. Remember, the Reisling has a bit of acidity which again brings out the best in these holiday dishes.
The final wine choice I like to suggest for those who must have a Red Wine at the holiday table is Pinot Noir. Specifically, from regions where the fruit levels are not so ripe. These are California wines from the Sonoma Coast region.
Pinot Noirs with strong minerality also work well, especially Red Burgundy wines from Cote de Beaune or Cote de Nuit. Once again, the acidity takes center stage here and cuts through all the abundant flavors at the Thanksgiving table. It's enjoyable to notice the intense, bright cherry flavors, backed up with a complex dose of mineral richness. You may find it creates some very fun flavor combinations, like the flavors of orange zest in cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie combined with a nice medium-bodied Pinot Noir.
In a nutshell, I recommend you show up to the Thanksgiving table this year with a bottle of dry or Brut Sparkling wine, a bottle of crisp Pinot Noir, and a bottle of Kabinett Riesling. Your selections will outshine any jug wine or Cold Duck that Uncle Harold brings.
Cheers to the Holiday Season!
Jerry Edwards CPCE- General Manager, “The Manor Tavern Group”
From 1981 to 2020 Jerry was Founder and Owner of Chef’s Expressions Catering and Events. Which has twice been named The National Catering Company of the Year. Jerry holds an honorary doctorate in hospitality. In 2008, he was inducted into The NACE Hall of Fame. In 2015, Jerry was honored as a National Industry Icon by the hospitality community.
He has won over 50 industry competitions including Baltimore’s Best Crab Soup, Three ACF Gold Medals, the “Best Chef” for the Meals on Wheels Culinary Extravaganza, The Crystal Toque Award in the Nation’s Capitol, The Special Event Award for best event, Baltimore’s “Iron Chef” competition and the Mid Atlantic Taste of Elegance competition.
Today Jerry leads the team of professionals at The Manor Tavern. These outstanding individuals include Alicia Strawderman, Director of Chef’s Expressions at The Manor, Sam Sara, Manor Tavern Restaurant General Manager and Executive Chef Chip Shaughnessy.