November 2006

Thanksgiving Pairings

Author: Krissy Cantelupe

What Wine Pairs Well With Turkey?

November is here, and everyone is getting into the holiday spirit… and spirits! A hint of fall is in the air; most of us are excited about the cooler weather, and our thoughts turn to Thanksgiving. This is the main holiday when you can gorge on as much turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes, gravy, and pumpkin pie as you want, surrounded by friends and family. The big question is, “What wines pair well with Thanksgiving dinner?”

Beaujolais Nouveau has been a traditional wine to drink on Thanksgiving because the grapes are harvested, quickly fermented, and then bottled to be sent from France, to locations all over the world. The wine is made with the red Gamay grape, grown mainly in Beaujolais, and should to be served with a slight chill. It is usually a rich purple color, but the wine is light in style with cherry and plum flavors and no lingering tannins on the finish. There are many different producers of Beaujolais Nouveau, but I would suggest suggestion choosing one from Bouchard Aine.

Since turkey is considered part of the poultry family, I would stay away from the big heavy reds, such as Merlot and Zinfandel. These wines may be too tannic and will overpower the taste of the food. Instead try a Pinot Noir, especially something with more fruit and less earthy flavor. Witness Tree, from Willamette Valley, Oregon, produces a fantastic Pinot Noir with full, rich raspberry flavors and a dollop of vanilla on the finish. Also Kim Crawford, from New Zealand, has a Pinot Noir filled with cherries and dark fruits, followed by subtle oak and a lasting finish. Both of these are moderately priced, and your guests will be very pleased.

If you prefer a white wine with your turkey dinner, I would recommend a Pinot Blanc or Gewurtztraminer. The Pinot Blanc grape is different from the Pinot Gris/Grigio grape in that it can produce wines with a fuller body and longer finish. Most Pinot Blancs are from California, Oregon, or Alsace in France. The Chalone Pinot Blanc, hailing from California, has aromas of pears, green apples and peaches, combined with a rich texture and body to leave a full mouth feel.

Gewurtztraminer is a white grape from Alsace that pairs quite well with Asian food, but also with traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Trimbach offers a Gewurtztraminer that is full of lychee fruit and honeysuckle and has a light spicy finish. It is a delicious alternative to a traditional Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.

Now that you have an idea of what to drink with your Thanksgiving meal, go out and purchase some wine for your family and guests. All of the selections I have mentioned are available in fine wine shops throughout Bluffton and Hilton Head Island. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!

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