Perhaps you work hard all week to prepare an informal, perfect feast, or you tackle hellish traffic to get to someone else’s house on-time for Thanksgiving dinner. Should we even dare to think about those who brave overcrowded airports, packed with weary, shuffling throngs channeling old images of the Irish famine exodus?
On the upside, there’s wine. And, as you know, not only do we like to explore the positive but we like to delve deep into all matters wine.
You’re going to see a lot of articles pop up on what to pair with turkey, but here’s a secret: turkey is one of the easiest food items with which to pair wine. It’s light enough for whites, and has enough flavor to partner-up with delicate reds.
Grape Varietal: Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Pinot Meunier
Drappier Brut is low in sugar and with notes of stone fruits like ripe pear and apple. It makes for a fantastic beginning to a colossal banquet. Pop-it open to kick things off.
Table Talker: There are many reasons to skip the chocolate strawberries – the fact that Champagne does not pair well with chocolate is just one valid motive. Appetizers that pair super well with Brut Champagnes are nuts (especially almonds but least of all walnuts), popcorn, potato chips, cheese and anything mushroom.
The Main Event
Grape Varietal: 100% Chardonnay
Educated Guess Chardonnay Carneros 2015 is a perfect match for anyone’s Turkey. The oak nuances compliment the natural juices used to baste the bird. This wine won’t overwhelm the meat, but it will still stand up on its own. Think creamy notes, toast, spice and vanilla.
Table Talker: Educated Guess Winery is best known for its Napa Cabernet. Now located off Hwy 12 at Jamieson Ranch, it represents one of few entry points into Napa Valley. One hundred percent of the Chardonnay comes from the Sangiacomo Ranch, located in the Sonoma portion of Carneros (long time respected Sonoma growers). As an unofficial single vineyard wine, this is a great value.
Grape Varietal: 100% Pinot Noir
Trisaetum Estates Reserve Pinot Noir 2015 from the Willamette Valley is light so it won’t overpower a roasted turkey. Also, the mild tannins and jammy flavors highlight typical fall items like butternut squash, carrots and yams.
Table Talker: Pinot Noir is one of the most difficult grapes to grow due to its thin skin which opens it up to rot, fungus and mildew. As a result, it warrants greater attention from its growers, ironically resulting in a higher quality wine, hence its elevated price point.
Sweet Potatoes & Stuffing
Grape Varietal: 50% Merlot, 34% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 7% Petit Verdot
We love this Bordeaux blend from Bolgheri, Italy. It’s bright with red fruit flavors and notes of spice. It pairs beautifully with Thanksgiving dishes like cranberry sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, and stuffing. With soft, silky tannins, the wine is versatile and elegant; perfect for that one person who claims to “only like reds”.
Table Talker: This is the second label for the wine, Ornellaia, and already this wine has beaten the scores of some of Bordeaux’s top Cru Classé chateaux.
Grape Varietal: 70% Syrah, 25% Limnio, 25% Merlot
Grape Varietal: 50% Cabernet, 50% Merlot
Greek wines, Ktima Gerovassiliou Estate Red 2014 and Ktima Biblia Chora Estate Red 2012 are big enough to stand up against heavy dishes and sauces. What we like about these wines is their herbal undertones that pair seamlessly with thanksgiving dishes containing rosemary, thyme and cranberries – which are found in most Thanksgiving sides.
Table Talker: Gerovassiliou Estate Red 2014 is blended with the oldest attested Greek red varietal called Limnio. It goes far enough back to be mentioned in a play by Aristophanes in 4th century BC.
Table Talker: Biblia Chora Estate Red 2012 is blended with Agiorgitiko in Greece’s Mt. Pangeon, and is the first property to grow and master this varietal beyond the borders of ancient Nemea in Greece. That’s a big deal in old world wines.
The Final Frontier
Grape Varietal: Chenin Blanc
Who doesn’t like a shortcut to dessert? We sure do, and that’s why we asked Ryan Arnold, Wine Director of Ēma, il Porcellino, Beatrix, Summer House Santa Monica and Stella Barra Pizzeria to tell us what he already knows: the best wine to pair with the final frontier of Thanksgiving get-togethers: dessert.
Ryan advises us that the Guiberteau Saumur Blanc “Les Moulins” 2015 is the get-bottle. This is a Chenin Blanc, dense, spicy and full of orchard fruits of pear and apples, which really compliment pies, toasted brioche and anything with cinnamon.
Table Talker: Despite its popularity, Chenin Blanc is a finicky grape. It has a natural acidity that even the most experienced winemakers find hard to control.