A couple people close to me said recently that Thanksgiving is their favorite holiday. Reflecting on that notion, I thought it made perfect sense as to why: Lots of food, family (and all that entertainment), and typically some booze. Eggnog is for Christmas, Champagne is for New Years, and let me tell you why wine is just perfect for Thanksgiving.
First of all, I must qualify that by saying that wine is just perfect most of the time but of all the holidays, Thanksgiving food pairs SO well with wine.
Baked Brie - Delicate and nutty, creamy and rich, my family always has an entire wheel of Brie topped with pecans and honey then baked until warm throughout. French baguette gets cut up and we dig into the cheese, top it with some cranberry sauce, and throw that delightful bite back. With this, a dry Rosé. You may not agree but let me explain. Rosé, especially a dry, French Rosé, cleanses the palate and is a great option for getting your day drink on.
Pacing yourself on Thanksgiving is KEY...with food and wine. You gotta save room for pie! Drinking a light, crisp Rosé this early in the day allows for a nice buzz but won’t fill you up like a heavier white/red wine tends to do. Plus, Rosé’s signature pink hue gets the party started all on its own.
Baked Turkey with Stuffing - Ohhh stuffing. My beloved stuffing. I've personally tried both vegetarian and non-vegetarian styles and I love them both. Starchy, earthy, moist, addictive. Paired with turkey, which is fairly neutral-tasting, and you have yourself a palate ready to drink a medium-bodied Pinot Noir. Migration by Duckhorn is a really delicious Pinot Noir and would be a perfect bottle to open up with these dishes. Structured yet light on the palate with subtle spice notes and stewed cherries, these flavors would go well with turkey and stuffing. A light Pinot Noir won't stand up to the stuffing so that's why I recommend a medium-bodied Pinot. If you're more bold, go for a Zinfandel with these foods. Since I work at The Barrel Room and have had the opportunity to taste different vintages of Duckhorn wines, I am convinced they produce consistent wines that people (myself included) adore. Just my opinion! If Zinfandel sounds nice, get Paraduxx by Duckhorn for this course.
Pumpkin Pie - Even though I'm not a pie fan, I can appreciate a nice pairing of dessert with wine. If Pumpkin pie is around, go for a Viognier or an oaked Chardonnay pairing. A dry Riesling would also be really tasty with a slice of Pumpkin pie--the honey notes in this varietal would be congruent to the buttery crust and the sweet pumpkin filling. If there's more than one pie you're working with, see the helpful pie chart above for some more pairings. Note: Complimentary pairings oppose and counteract each other to create balance. Congruent pairings have many shared compounds that combine together and intensify.
By a long shot, Carignan, a varietal originating from Spain that grows in France and Italy, would be well-suited to the majority of Thanksgiving dishes. Even more great about Carignan is that it generally is not expensive to buy. Vanilla oak, cinnamon, black cherry, plum sauce, game, and dried cranberry are common notes in this wine. This fruity, mildly-tannic varietal is an ideal pairing for everything from the cranberry sauce to pumpkin pie.
Whatever your preference in style, wine is something we can all be thankful to have this holiday season. Put on some stretchy pants and grab your bottle opener; 'Tis the season, but no need for a reason to sip and savor the simple pleasure of enjoying food with wine.
Written by: Sara Cortez