It’s November, and everyone’s favorite food holiday is right around the corner! To say that I am extra psyched for Thanksgiving this year is an understatement. This will be the first time my boyfriend will be at my childhood home for a holiday and also the first time, since college, that I’ll be with my parents for Thanksgiving. My family began pulling recipes the day we booked our tickets: stuffed and fried turkeys, pecan pie, sweet potato casserole, glazed ham, deviled eggs, green bean casserole and more will line the buffet table on turkey day.
With the food situation figured out, there is just one thing left to do: organize the drinks! My parents do not drink alcohol on the regular (which still makes me wonder how I ever got into the wine business…), though we have a few relatives who do, so they asked me to step in and help organize the Thanksgiving wine list.
The good news is that with the variety of food being served there are limitless options of beverages that can be served. My goal is to pull a fun assortment that is food friendly and delicious. The guide that follows includes a few wines that will appear at our Thanksgiving table that are readily available and meant to pair with not one dish, but all of them!
Bubbles, Bubbles, Bubbles
There’s something about the sound of a cork popping from a bottle of sparkling wine that puts everyone in a good mood. Champagne, Prosecco and Cava; any sparkling wine is a great wine to have on hand at home, especially during the holidays. Bubbles almost always mean a celebration, which occasions like Thanksgiving embody.
The celebratory aspect aside, bubbles are a great way to start a dinner party. Why? Because most sparkling wines have a decent amount of acidity, which activates the salivary glands and preps your guests for some appetizers.
With the amount of sparklers on the market today, you don’t have to look far to find a few bottles that fit your palate and price range, and here is one of my favorites: Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs ($39). Schramsberg is one of my favorite home grown sparkling wines that I like to have on hand. Produced from 100% Chardonnay, this is a dry sparkler that offers vitalizing citrus notes with a slight tartness, accompanied by a hint of fresh bread dough. This wine can both complement and contrast a variety of dishes, making it an ideal Thanksgiving wine.
Some wines just taste better naked: enter Chardonnay. Many producers offer this wine with a lovely oak component, but for an occasion with multiple course and dishes, I like to serve a wine with more acidity. Joel Gott Unoaked Chardonnay ($16) is one of my go-tos for Chardonnay because it showcases the fruit and only the fruit. Chardonnay has a relatively wide spectrum of flavors, and this version showcases tropical fruits, like melon and pineapple, and maintains that mouth watering acidity you expect from a non-oaked wine.
Across the board Beaujolais is considered one of the top regions in the world to find wines where the taste far exceeds the price point. Located just south of Burgundy in France, these wines are made primarily from Gamay grapes and are just straight delicious. If you are nouveau (new) to Beaujolais, skim this guide from Wine Folly for more education.
Walk into a wine store and I challenge you to not find a bottle of Beaujolais by Louis Jadot. Although this is considered lower on the quality spectrum, I purchase Louis Jadot Beaujolais-Villages ($13) regularly because it’s a great value for the quality of wine you receive. Made from 100% Gamay, this wine is ripe with notes of black cherry and mild baking spices and medium acidity that keeps the wine bright.
In addition to the still version, Beaujolais Nouveau will also be making an appearance at the party. Beaujolais Nouveau is a fruit forward, spritzy red wine released on the third Thursday in November. Typically, this wine is consumed in its youth and gives the first taste of the year’s harvest. As the wine has not yet been released for 2016, you can call or visit your local wine store and ask for recommendations. As reasonably priced, delicious and timely as these wines are, you cannot go wrong adding this to your holiday wine list.
Red, Red Blend
Admittedly, I jumped on the red blend band wagon a couple of years ago and still haven’t gotten off. Maybe it’s not even a band wagon, but either way, I’ve never been a purist and firmly believe that when a winemaker utilizes all the crayons in their box, or, you know, the grapes, they have all the tools available to make a delicious and balanced wine.
Enter Leese-Fitch 2014 Firehoust Red ($12), a great example of how a solid wine can be made by commingling seven different grape varieties. This wine smells like cherries dipped in milk chocolate and a perfectly broken-in leather jacket. The palate elevates darker red and black fruit notes and remains fresh with medium acidity and present, yet mild, tannins.
Wherever and however you celebrate Thanksgiving, I hope you are surrounded by the ones you love, delicious food and, of course, great wine.