My wife, Cindy, and I both come from families where Thanksgiving is a big deal. Preparation begins almost a week ahead and yet the rush to get everything on the table in time for dinner always reaches a chaotic crescendo just as everyone is sitting down. But we love it because it is an opportunity to gather with family and friends, and celebrate with fabulous food and an assortment of wonderful wines.
Each year, we like to pick a variety of wines for Thanksgiving and have some fun with it. However, the biggest challenge still remains pairing the wines with a traditional Thanksgiving meal. With all of the competing flavors and textures battling it out for space on the palate, selecting the right wines can be a little bit like navigating a culinary maze without a recipe.
From tart cranberries to sweet potatoes, there is a plethora of complex flavors that makes picking the right wine a genuine challenge. It is almost impossible to find one single wine that will match up with each dish on the table. So a few years ago, Cindy and I began our own tradition of employing a “tasting menu” approach for the wine as well as for the food. We open several different types of wine throughout the evening to enjoy with each course or a particular dish.
Since there is usually a wide range of guests whose taste may not be in sync with each other, having several different wines on the table will not only wake up the palate between courses, but it also helps keep the guests engaged. Personally, I like to move through wine varietals at dinner the same way I like to eat; start off with a wine to whet my appetite, move on to something a little more substantial and then end with a big finale.
While we can’t help you pick your guests this Thanksgiving, we can offer a few useful suggestions that should please most palates and pocketbooks.
In this episode, we pick our favorite white wines to enjoy with your family feast. Next week, we’ll share our favorite red wine picks.
We both love to start off all festive occasions with a sparkling wine. The Nonvintage Ca Di Rajo Prosecco Brut from Veneto, Italy, is a perfect choice. Its beautiful stream of fine bubbles gently lifts aromas of crisp apple, honeyed nectarines, pear fruit and hints of yeasty notes to the surface. The party continues on the palate where flavors of baked apples mingle with hints of buttered toast. It’s all built on a creamy frame that emphasizes the long, clean finish. This sparkler is beautifully versatile and can be enjoyed on its own or with a variety of appetizers. $20
If you are looking for the perfect “Turkey Wine,” look no further. The 2018 St. Urbans-Hof Bockstein Kabinett Grand Cru Riesling from Germany is lithe and refined, with a complex array of peach, lime and honeysuckle aromas on the fragrant bouquet and beautifully seductive flavors of fresh apple, tangerine, pears and white peaches that swaddle the tongue. Hints of minerals sneak in on the concentrated finish. $27
For those who are looking for a more customary pairing with turkey, check out the 2017 Jordan Chardonnay from the Russian River Valley in Sonoma, California. This beautifully crafted chardonnay offers generous aromas of pear cobbler with hints of orange blossom and toasty oak. The palate delivers flavors of ripe pear, white peach and lemon meringue supported by uplifting acidity. Subtle notes of vanilla shine on the remarkably long and elegant finish. $34
Stay tuned next week for our red wine recommendations.