When it comes to pairing wines with your Thanksgiving meal, keep in mind that there is no perfect pairing. The interplay of wine and food is necessarily subjective. Besides, in the context of the general bonhomie of Thanksgiving, it’s hard to imagine anybody being actively displeased by whatever wines you offer.
Barring relationship breakups, tumultuous screaming matches and unwelcome visits from law enforcement, it seems there isn’t really a wrong way to do Thanksgiving. So open a few bottles of wine, relax and have a little fun.
When planning a feast such as Thanksgiving, I estimate roughly one bottle (about six glasses) per drinking guest. It is better to have leftover open bottles of wine, than to run out entirely. And you can always give the unfinished bottles to your guests as a parting gift.
The goal of pairing wine with food is balance: neither the food nor the wine should overpower one another. Armed with a few tips and a little common sense, picking wines to accompany your menu should be a cinch.
I recommend wines that are fairly light, lithe and versatile — wines that can work well with a menu eaten over several hours. Typically, such wines will be relatively low in alcohol, not too oaky, not especially tannic and will have some lively acidity to help keep them vibrant and refreshing.
For whites look to Riesling, chenin blanc, bone-dry sauvignon blanc, viognier and un-oaked chardonnay; for reds consider Beaujolais, barbera, Chianti, tempraillo, and pinot noir. Sparkling wines should command some attention and consideration as well.
Experience is the surest guide to one’s own tastes, so experiment liberally in advance. And consider hedging your bets by providing guests with multiple wine options and even additional stemware if you have it.
Here are some fine options to consider:
Hagafen Lake County Riesling 2016 ($24; mevushal): A light, delicious, off-dry riesling from Napa Valley that offers lovely tropical fruit notes beautifully balanced by soft but refreshing acidity.
Louis Blanc, Côte de Brouilly (Beaujolais, France), 2013 ($26): A lovely, medium-bodied Beaujolais with very soft tannins, medium acidity, notes of ripe raspberries, blackberries, boysenberries and dark plums with some lovely earthy notes.
Domaine Les Marronniers, Chablis, 2016 ($33; mevushal): This is a wonderful example of Chablis. It is crisp, flinty, restrained and elegant with apple, citrus and earthy and herbal aromas and flavors, and a fabulous, almost saline foundation upon which other fruit notes) lovingly swim.
The Abarbanel, 25th Anniversary, Special Reserve, Rouge, 2015 ($20; currently available for $17 at kosherwine.com): Value-priced, light-to-medium bodied, and light in tannins, this is an all-around inviting and enjoyable single vineyard blend of cabernet sauvignon (65 percent) and Merlot (35 percent) from the Aude River Valley in the South of France. This is easy drinking and food friendly — though let it breathe in the glass a little first — offering aromas and flavors of cherry, plum and cassis with some subtle herbs, light tobacco and perhaps a whiff of coffee. L’chaim!
Have wine or spirits questions for Joshua E. London? Send him an email, [email protected].