“My complements to the turkey”: Choosing the right wines for Thanksgiving

by Terry B on November 25, 2009

Puzzled by what wines to serve with your Thanksgiving dinner? Here’s some advice from people smarter than me on the topic.

Let me start by quoting Eric Asimov. “We all like what we like.” If you have certain wines you like, you might as well just enjoy them with your Thanksgiving dinner. Old so-called rules—”red with meat, white with fish and poultry”—are being reconsidered or abandoned altogether. red-white-wine2In his New York Times wine column, The Pour, Asimov recently issued “A Plea for Calm.” In it, he calls for wine people not to get so wrapped up in certainties and rankings and absolutes. “The truth is that wine—good wine—refuses to conform to anybody’s need for certainty,” he says. “Good wines are alive. They change. They are not static, so a score today can be worthless tomorrow or next month or next year.”

That said, many of us could use a little guidance when it comes to pairing wine with what epicurious calls the “cacophony of holiday flavors.” Most wine writers agree that Thanksgiving is not the time to pull a vintage Bordeaux or Burgundy—or even a big chardonnay—from your cellar. More modest bottles of lively, spicy, fruit forward wines are what you’re looking for. Here are some sources to help you find them.

Epicurious Tasting Notes. Wine consultant and author Leslie Sbrocco points out what to look for in whites and reds and gives suggestions for Reislings, Viogniers, Pinot Noirs, sparkling wines and more, in a range of prices. Read the full article here.

Good Wine Under $20. Award-winning wine blogger and writer Deb Harkness weighs in with her annual list of Thanksgiving wines for under $20. She starts with sparkling wines, her favorite choice for the holiday, but includes whites, rosés and reds—14 in all, all for less than 20 bucks. Read the full article here.

Tasting Table. Sticking with the idea that you don’t need big-ticket wines to enjoy your Thanksgiving dinner—and adding on the fact that Thanksgiving is an all-American holiday—here’s a short list of inexpensive American wines that don’t taste it from Oregon, Washington state and California. Read the full article here.

Chow. This popular food site offers up a selection of wines for Thanksgiving, ranging from “cheap but good” to “splurge.” And as a bonus, they offer links to recipes for your turkey, sides and desserts. Read the full article here.

The New York Times. And finally, back to Mr. Asimov. For six years now, the Dining section’s wine panel at the Times has gathered for an early Thanksgiving dinner to sample wines and “offer coherent answers to the annual question of what to serve with the bird.” This year, he says, “I think we really got it right.” To see the five whites and five reds they chose, read the full article here.

Okay, it’s your turn now. More wine is consumed on Thanksgiving than any other day of the year. What will you be drinking with your dinner? Or in the likely event you’re reading this in a post-holiday haze of leftovers, what did you drink?


{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Thomas Preston November 25, 2009 at 7:55 pm

I enjoyed reading “My complements to the turkey”: Choosing the right wines for Thanksgiving. I will be enjoying several glasses of a rather overlooked French wine that pairs quite well with the traditional Thanksgiving feast. And this wine can accommodate almost any budget, ranging from $10 – $15 a bottle.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a purple/pink fruity wine dominated by subtle notes of pear and banana. It has very little tannin, which red wine virgins often enjoy so it is a great choice for almost any holiday gathering. Served slightly chilled, this light bodied red is also a wonderful accompaniment to day-after turkey sandwiches as well as the main Thanksgiving Day fare. You can also enjoy a bottle with family and friends to help put you in the mood for some holiday shopping.

Terry B November 25, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Thanks for stopping by, Thomas! Beaujolais Nouveau is indeed a great Thanksgiving choice. Friends used to hold an annual party to celebrate the new bottles the day after they were released—then they started making babies and were less inclined to turn their home over to 150 or so revelers.

altadenahiker November 26, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Let’s drop by and see Terry and Marion. They might make us eat roasted turnips, but the wine is always good.

Terry B November 26, 2009 at 3:28 pm

Altadenahiker—For you, Marion’s saving some rutabagas.

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