What to drink at Thanksgiving is one of those eternal dilemmas. Your mom is making both a turkey and a ham. Your aunt is bringing her special Brussels sprouts. Your brother is all about his curried quinoa pilaf this year. And don’t forget the sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. Holiday meals are all about tradition and deep rooted side dish preferences. Which are great until you start trying to pair a wine. We asked New York City sommelier — and fashion designer — Rosalina Pong
for her recommendations for what to drink today:
Though you may be eating some traditional dishes for Thanksgiving you don’t have to drink the same old stuff. Thanksgiving and wine pairing can be a little tricky because (let’s be honest) it’s a gluttonous, buffet style, free-for-all. There are a few things to keep in mind when picking your perfect wine:
-Look for a medium to light bodied wine with low to medium tannin to keep your guests going from the start of the feast to the exhausting finish when they’re picking at the leftover turkey right after the pumpkin pie.
-Wines that are more fruit forward will pair with the varied spices, herbs, cream, as well as sweetness from sweet potatoes, pumpkins and varied fruits.
-Wines with good acidity will liven the palate and to wash down the forkfuls of garlic mashed/sweet potatoes and ham/turkey/roast beef!
Here are some wines to try out with a mouthful of Thanksgiving fare:
Rieslings are beautiful and fascinatingly and sometimes frustratingly versatile. They can be dessert sweet to shockingly bone dry and are definitely worth exploring. For Turkey Day look for trocken or dry and kabinett or off-dry which will show a bit of residual sugar.
Zind Humbrecht, Terroir d’Alsace ‘Vin Sec’ Alsace, France 2010
A dry, racy Riesling that starts with intensity and tantalizing acidity that slowly opens up to reveals hints of citrus, lime, almond and gradually a beautiful finish of white flowers, white peach, salinity and classic Riesling petrol. Try this with some smoked salmon, smoked or honey glazed ham, turkey with cranberry sauce and anything with bacon.
Grosset ‘Alea’ Off-Dry Riesling, Clare Valley, Australia 2010
For those who don’t shy away from a little bit of sweetness. This wine is lush and pretty with great minerality and flavors of candied lemon, lime with medium plus acidity. There is a pleasant sweetness throughout that transforms into a lingering finish of light honey. It would pair well with sweet potatoes, jalapeno cornbread, and turkey with stuffing that is herb and spice driven and anything with garlic.
Savagnin or Naturé Wine
A rare white wine varietal from the Jura region of France used to produce a dry Vin Jaune and Naturé wine. Vin Jaune is a beautiful and intriguing oxidative wine which should definitely be part of your life but for Thanksgiving I suggest trying some Naturé which is not oxidized - it may be a little hard to find but well worth it.
Frédéric Lornet, Arbois Naturé, Jura, France 2013
One word: Lovely.
More words: medium/light bodied wine, wildly mineral showing figs, spiced walnuts and a hint of curry spice. Rich, complex with great acidity it has a long mineral finish of melon, apple and pear. Drink this with your scalloped potatoes, white turkey meat and corn bread stuffing.
Gamay is a red wine varietal grown in Beaujolais, the Loire Valley and Willamette Valley. They produce wines that are usually light, fruity and sometimes spicy with low to medium tannin that range in complexity but are always a great value. Spring for some Beaujolais Cru, you won’t regret it.
Chateau des Jacques, ‘Moulin au Vent,’ Beaujolais, France 2010
A seductive, medium bodied wine with dark berry fruit, black cherries, violets and a hint of spice. You will find it difficult to stop drinking this wine in order to scoop food in your mouth. Grab a turkey leg so that you can continue drinking with your other hand.
Mud House Pinot Noir ‘Golden Terrace Vineyards’ Central Otago, New Zealand 2011
Medium bodied, with sweet, ripe black fruit, black cherries, blueberries and raspberries with baking spice and anise with a finish of black olives, herbs and sweet tobacco. Drink it with nearly everything on the table.
A cross between Saint Laurent and Blaufränkisch developed in 1922. It is one of the most widely planted red wine varietals in Austria. The wines it produces are generally lighter style wines with flavors of black cherry and raspberries.
Weingut Pittnauer – Heideboden Zweigelt, Austria 2012
Silky, brooding medium bodied wine with some depth. This wine is rich in ripe black fruits, blackberry, black cherries with aromas of cola, spicebox, sandalwood and cracked black pepper. Delicate yet weighty; it has medium plus tannin but can be enjoyed without food if you’re on a diet or pair it with your roast beef and gravy and mashed potatoes and gravy.