Serving wines with Thanksgiving dinner? Follow a few simple guidelines and the selection process can be as stress-free as opening a can of cranberry jelly.
First and foremost, offer variety. I harp on this every year, but you can hardly go wrong if you use this as a starting point. With a variety of wines at the table, say, a sweet or off-dry and a dry white, and perhaps a light- to medium-bodied red, you will cover all your bases.
Second, don’t fret over precise food and wine pairings. A traditional Thanksgiving dinner usually isn’t heavy on seasonings and spices. That makes more wines easily adaptable to the basics of turkey, potatoes and gravy, and stuffing you’re likely to serve.
Third, ask others what they like. Don’t assume that just because you’re a big fan of chardonnay that others will be too. Here again, variety is the key.
Finally, don’t be too skimpy on cost. A bargain wine or two? No problem. Every wine at the table under $10? Come on, it’s Thanksgiving! Splurge a bit and use this as an opportunity to show off your wine-buying prowess to family and friends.
In keeping with the variety theme, I’d like to suggest some wines from France, Italy and Spain that should be a welcome addition to your Thanksgiving meal.
La Gioiosa Non-Vintage Prosecco DOC Treviso Spumante (about $11) – An outstanding sparkling wine for starters, this tasty Prosecco features luscious ripe pear and honeydew melon flavors with a creamy texture that hints at lemon custard. Guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser with its faintly sweet finish.
Domaine du Tariquet Classic (about $11) – This refreshing, four-varietal white wine blend offers citrusy and herbaceous aromas and flavors while the finish is clean and green and reminiscent of a vinho verde. It makes a nice pairing with seafood, shellfish or oyster stuffing.
Marchesi de Frescobaldi 2010 Nipozzano Riserva (about $19) – This incredibly well-priced sangiovese-based Chianti is a great example of how practical it is to serve a red wine for Thanksgiving. Hints of licorice and spicy cherry on the nose, bright red currant and cranberry flavors on the palate, and supple tannins on the finish combine to provide a great compliment to dark meat.
Bodegas Shaya ‘Habis’ 2010 Old Vines Verdejo (about $26) – From Spain’s Rueda region, this stunning white wine opens with aromas of fresh peach and green herbs. Generous tropical and stone fruits fill the glass with a gentle kiss of ruby red grapefruit on the finish. My only quibble: It’s so good you may not want to share it with anyone else.
Damilano 2010 ‘Lecinquevigne’ Barolo DOCG (about $35) – This nicely complex nebbiolo is both elegant and muscular with floral aromas of rose and violet, red cherry flavors, and a splash of green tea on the finish. Grippy tannins are softened with a bit of aeration and decanting, or easily complemented with an after-dinner cigar.