Thanksgiving is almost here, and if you haven’t already, it’s time to plan what wine will work best with a meal that has such a variety of sweet-and-savory flavors. My Wine Dude colleague Rusty Gaffney would tell you that chardonnay and pinot noir are all you need. And, those choices are excellent. But there are several other wines you might wish to consider.
When it comes to whites, chenin blanc-based wines from California, South Africa, or the Loire region of France will complement any Thanksgiving meal. You’ll also find that rieslings from Germany or Alsace, or those from California or Washington also pair marvelously. This is because the lightly sweet fruitiness in both of these varietals goes well with both the sweet and savory qualities of turkey, cranberry sauce, and dressing.
Also, the white wines from Northern Italy are an easy fit with all of the dishes. Look for the ever-present pinot grigio, which makes food friends easily, and works with almost everything. Or the seemingly forgotten Soave wines from the Venice region. Fuller in body than pinot grigio, Soave stands up to the most robust of turkeys.
As for reds, there are several contenders. Beaujolais from France has an obvious fruitiness, and the gamay grape has a lovely little savory streak that works great with spices such as sage and thyme. Italian reds such as montepulciano d’Abruzzo, or Chianti Classico, or barbera also pair nicely with both the sweet and savory. And lastly, don’t forget about the spicy, fruit-driven zinfandels of California. This is an American holiday after all.
So, this Thanksgiving, you decide how adventurous to be. You can stick with the tried-and-true chardonnay and pinot noir. Or, you can branch out and give your family something new to talk about at the dinner table, besides Aunt Jennie’s new rocking chair. Happy Thanksgiving.