Toasting to Thanksgiving

With Thanksgiving upon us, many of us will be in the festive mood. You could be festive for holidays, football, food, or family. Maybe all those things! And celebrating the holidays is a perfect chance to enjoy a great bottle of wine with friends and family. But the tricky part is trying to make a sense of what wine to have with Thanksgiving dinner.

Sparkling wine

Beth in the Wedge, this section is for you. Sparkling wine is one of the most underrated of all wines. Sparklers are perfectly suited to match with a ton of food. An apertif? A good way to start the meal. Because Thanksgiving menus are so diverse, a sparkling wine would be perfect to pair. The bubbles and acidity refresh your tastebuds and palate. This is a good thing! And don’t hold yourself to just champagne! Prosecco (Italian) and Cava (Spanish) would be an excellent change of pace.

First off, not all sparkling wines are Champagne. This designation only exists for wines made in the Champagne region in France. Everything else is sparkling wine. Sparklers are a great way to make any moment special, the bubbles (the ‘mousse’) create a visual story. And good sparklers will have a complex flavor that is pretty close to magical. Cheers to that.

Alcohol levels

Alcohol levels are tricky, but there aren’t that many hard and fast rules. One Syrah could be at 13% while another could be at 15% – this happens across other varietals too. High alcohol occurs from leaving the grapes on the vine longer so the fruit gets more ripe and the sugar levels rise to create high alcohol levels.

The dilemma. High alcohol levels in wine (>14% alcohol) can get you a bit tipsy quickly. This could a be a good thing if alcohol is the only way for you to make it through a long dinner with your family, then imbibe indeed. At least indulge in good wine – just don’t drive home.

Low alcohol wines (<14%) are good to pair with Thanksgiving dinner because your palate won’t be fatigued and you’ll still be able to actively participate in the family festivities. Heaven forbid palate fatigue from too much alcohol – your mouth could get overwhelmed by a high volume of alcohol. Don’t you want to taste both the food and wine you’ll be enjoying? Palate fatigue is the moment when alcohol has bombarded your senses and your sense of taste has gone haywire. To lessen it’s impact, pace yourself. Enjoy your entrees, be patient. Everything will still be there – even your family.

Wine pairing

Like roast chicken, turkey can play nice with almost any type of wine. Full-bodied (rich, complex) is a way to go, but take care not to get anything that is too bold (strong flavors that lean one way too heavily). The subtleties of Pinot Noir or Viognier would be excellent. The tricky thing with Thanksgiving dinner are the sides; so many divergent flavors that could overpower the nuances of wine. Sweet potatoes, green beans, cranberries all make for a tough match. That’s why it would be a good idea to have a handful of bottles at the ready. Riesling is an awesome match; it’s bracing acidity and easy drinkability would be perfect for a rich meal like Thanksgiving.

Basically, have fun with dinner! Bask in the glow of the occasion and enjoy each moment with those around you. Happy Thanksgiving from Going for Seconds!

One thought on “Toasting to Thanksgiving

  1. Frank,
    Love the blog! I have always found that sparkling wines are great with anything! This is the wine that can be sipped at breakfast, lunch, dinner, and anywhere in between.
    Beth (from Wedgewood)

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