Historically the day before Thanksgiving is the busiest day in wine retail, and yesterday was no exception. So many people rushing in at the last minute to grab 1, 2 or 12 bottles of wine to (almost always) pair with one of the most important meals of the year here in the USA. Truthfully, the challenge in finding the perfect wine comes not from the turkey, but rather the variety of salty, sweet, spicy and rich side dishes that are generally served with the bird. Stuffing? Oysters? Cranberry sauce..you get the picture.
What to look for?
Wines with modest to low alcohol, supple tannins, more youthful, primary fruit flavors, good acidity. Wines with a little residual sugar work great too.
What to avoid?
High alcohol, coarse, astringent or dry tannins, high levels of oak, super earthy, rustic or aged wines that lack primary fruit characteristics.
Here is a short list of what I recommended to most folks:
Pinot Noir (from just about anywhere in the world. I am very partial to New Zealand these days, especially from a quality, price and exquisite balance standpoint)
GSM’s (Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre blends, especially from the Southern Rhone or the Languedoc)
Mencia (from the northwestern side of Spain)
Lambrusco (a dry version if you are feeling particularly open to trying new things!)
Trousseau (from the Jura. Pinot Noir-esque. Obscure? Yeah..but oh so good.)
Riesling (For me, Germany is king. Austria and Australia also excel with their dry wines)
Chenin Blanc (Vouvray or Montlouis in the Loire are great go to regions for slightly off-dry whites with great acidity)
Pinot Gris (Oregon or New Zealand are my current favorites)
In addition, a deep, juicy and dry rose works with many Thanksgiving dishes too. For such an occasion, I tend to favor wines from the following regions:
Chinon (Cabernet Franc)
Bordeaux (Merlot –Cabernet Sauvignon)
Cotes du Rhone (Grenache-Syrah-Cinsault)
In addition, sparkling wines are incredibly versatile and festive at the table. Given the choice, fizzy wine is what I would drink for the duration of the meal.
Prosecco (from Italia. slightly off dry, great apple nuances)
Cremant de Limoux (from Southern France)
Cremant de Loire (often Chenin Blanc based)
California Sparkling Wine (Schramsberg and Iron Horse are my favorites)
Champagne (a no brainer-especially rose Champagne)
Whew! After such a hard days work, my colleagues and I celebrated the completion of a very successful day with a champagne toast. Scottie B. cracked open a bottle of 2005 Franck Bonville Grand Cru Blancs de Blancs, which I believe K&L Wine Merchants will soon be carrying. Here is a picture of Scottie doling out the goods.
O.K., amongst the 8 of us that bottle was gone in about 4 minutes. We had also run out of potato chips, which is our drug of choice when drinking champagne.
Next, Scottie pulled out a bottle of Billecart Salmon Brut “Reserve” that had been blissfully resting in his cellar for the better part of 7 years. Wow, complex, with notes of fennel, hazelnut and fuji apple. Gorgeous, and still tight as a tick. Thank you Scottie for sharing this treat with us at the end of a long hard day!