Travel stress. Cramped family living quarters. Awkward political rants. Ah, the joys of Thanksgiving. But at least the most important meal of the year is also a good chance to try some good wines.
If you’ve procrastinated on buying the booze for your family feast, fear not. There’s still time to pick up a few delicious things to pair with your meal.
However, I just want to remind everyone that the focus of Thanksgiving isn’t really on the wine, so don’t feel too much pressure to pick something perfect. Instead, just choose a good white, a good red, and then perhaps something for dessert if you’re feeling a bit of a sweet tooth. That way, you’ll have all your bases covered.
When it comes to white wines for Thanksgiving, remember that this is a big meal with lots of hearty dishes, so the lighter the better. Still, you want something that can stand up to the strong flavors in traditional dishes like stuffing, sweet potato soufflé and any manner of veggie sides. I’d suggest a nice Riesling like this one.
It’s labeled as tröcken, which means it’s dry. It has pleasant aromas of tropical fruits like pineapple and citrus, but a focused acidity that will keep your mouth watering and your appetite whetted. Barring purchasing this specific wine, just look for a German Riesling from the Rheingau or Mosel regions that has tröcken on the label, and you’ll be in the right neighborhood.
Now for the suggestion of a red. I’m personally pairing this French red from the Loire Valley with my meal this year. It’s made from organically grown Cabernet Franc and has zippy, red-berry flavors and a bright intensity that keeps it from becoming too heavy or cloying, which is paramount when pairing with a heavy meal like Thanksgiving dinner.
If you’ve still got room left for dessert and you want a wine pairing, you can go to the sweeter end of the spectrum. But try to find something that is still light-bodied and acidic enough to keep your taste buds alert. I’d suggest an Aszú wine from Tokaj, in Hungary. Sweet wines like this one were once prized in royal courts throughout Europe. They usually exhibit luscious flavors of stone fruits and toasted nuts, but also a fresh, bright, tangy aftertaste that keeps you from feeling full, and they’ll stand up to pretty much any pie you throw its way.
That’s it! When it comes to Thanksgiving, all you need is three kinds of wine: a white, a red and something for dessert if you feel like it. Now, instead of worrying about what wine to pick, you can stress about cooking the turkey and figuring out a way to avoid political discussions (think football instead). Happy Thanksgiving!