I am certainly looking forward to enjoying Thanksgiving Dinner with family and friends. However, I am going to change up the wine offerings this year. As the dishes served are standard Thanksgiving fare offered and anticipated as well as those family favorites, I do not want to mess with the menu or the family ‘food traditions.’
To keep it simple, I will be serving the following:
For the happy hour (before the serious eating commences):
Veuve Cliquot Demi Sec NV – this Champagne is lush on the palate and has enough sweetness to soften the acidity with just a touch of yeasty character. The mousse is lively and gives the champagne a delightful crispness not expected in a demi sec. The aromas and flavors evoke peach, caramel, pear, and Meyer lemon, which linger beautifully, and the finale is a long, pleasant finish. It is a delightful Champagne and will please both connoisseurs as well as those new to this style.
I recently purchased this at Total Wine & More for $65 for a 750ml bottle (with the ‘buy six’ discount). If you do not need a whole bottle, it is also available in a half bottle size (www.wine.com). Serving in a beautiful champagne flute or Grandma’s cut crystal will add elegance and scream festive! This beautiful wine is a combination of Pinot Noir, with Chardonnay, Meunier, and reserve wines from the cellar. It hails from the Champagne region of France.
At the table, I will be serving a white and a red wine:
Famille Hugel Classic Gewurztraminer 2019 (or slightly older) – this white wine beauty from the Alsace region of France is an aromatic variety that delivers tropical fruit, peach, pear, melon, honey, ginger and exhibits notable minerality. The wine is clean and fresh with a spicy element to complement all those savoy flavors present in Thanksgiving fare. It has great weight on the palate and offer low acidity, so it will not overpower the savory elements of your meal. If making a simple salad, you can also use this Gewurztraminer as the ‘acid’ part of your salad dressing, adding it to extra virgin olive oil and spices of your choice.
I recently tasted this in Alsace in the town of Riquewihr at the Hugel Family winery tasting room. You can purchase it easily through www.vinvino.com or at Raley’s markets. The price ranges from $23 to $26 per bottle.
Domaine Pardon Cuvee Hugo Fleurie 2020 – this is not the Noveau Beaujolais wine released on the 3rd Thursday in November each year. This is a serious Gamay wine crafted from the vineyards in the North of Beaujolais in the Cru of Fleurie (there are 10 Crus in Beaujolais making delicious wines). I recently paired this wine for an event where the driving element of the main dish was the spice, Saffron. It absolutely sang with the food, and I know it will do the same with your Thanksgiving meal. It has just enough tart raspberry and cranberry elements coupled with a spicy and earthy finish for all those delicious, crazy flavors in our American Thanksgiving extravaganza. While aromatic and flavorful, the wine offers a light to medium body and the acidity keeps the palate fresh and lively.
Often, Gamay from Beaujolais will rival Pinot Noir at about one-third the price. The wine does not have an overabundance of tannin, so it is a very versatile food wine. I purchased this at Total Wine & More for $23 (with the ‘buy six’ discount).
Dow’s 10 Year Tawny Port – while there are many amazing dessert type wines, after such a big meal with a menagerie of textures and flavors, and a glance at the dessert table which may include pumpkin, pecan, and apple pies, something with enough flavor and just rich enough will set the tone and finish your dinner. Dow’s port will not disappoint and will give just enough bang for the finale. The wine exhibits aromas and flavors of dried apricot, baked cherries, plum cake with a definite nutty characteristic. It is aged in oak barrels and is a blend of older wines that are an average of 10 years.
I have used this port wine for many events, and it is a bargain at around $30 a bottle. I found it at Save Mart, www.wine.com and Total Wine.
While there are many wines available that will give you a great pairing experience, I hope you will try one or more of these recommendations. Remember, there are no absolutes when pairing wine and food but many variables. Those include the food and the elements in the dish but most importantly, the people you love and are hoping to please.