It's that time of year for my traditional Thanksgiving column, or, as some may perceive it, the kickoff of "wine shopping anxiety season."
Really now, if you'd paid attention for even part of the first 10-plus months of the year, you wouldn't have to worry about what wine to serve Aunt Tilly and Uncle Horace this Thursday. But since you may have forgotten the useful tips and tricks of food-and-wine pairing, let me offer some suggestions that should help reduce your stress level.
With relatively no serious seasonings, spices or sassy sauces to get in the way, your Thanksgiving dinner shouldn't pose a threat to many of the wines you might choose to serve with your meal.
If your guests prefer dry white wines, a chardonnay, roussanne, marsanne, or even a viognier, should pair just fine with your turkey and mashed potatoes. A pinot gris or sauvignon blanc might also work, but be aware that those wines have a higher acidity level that not everyone may find pleasing.
Riesling and gewürztraminer can also be great white wines to serve because they come in a range of styles, including dry (no sugar), semi-dry (faintly sweet), sweet, or even late harvest (super-sweet).
I'd reserve the sweeter options as pumpkin pie choices, although you may find that some folks - usually those who seldom drink wine - might like to imbibe in them throughout the day. (This may be a good time to remember to book that spa day for yourself for next week.)
Some red wines can be a bit too bold to serve with Thanksgiving dinner and will drown out the flavors of your food. Along those lines, I'd steer clear of full-bodied cabernet sauvignons and probably syrah and merlot as well.
Pinot noir makes an excellent red wine choice for dinner, with its trademark brisk acidity and savory, earthy characteristics. Sangiovese and grenache are a couple of other medium-bodied red wines you might consider, too.
And don't forget rosés, which also can come in a huge array of flavor profiles and sweetness levels. I'd stick to the more food-friendly drier versions, and, for best results, don't forget to chill them slightly before serving.
Unquestionably, the best advice I can give is to have enough different choices on hand so there's something almost certain to please everyone. Pop the cork (or unscrew the cap), enjoy some good food and wine, and have a Happy Thanksgiving!
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at www.danthewineguy.com.
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