Happy Holiday Season! With Thanksgiving around the corner, and Christmas right after that, I wanted to share a different kind of useful information. A colleague of mine, who happens to be a Sommelier, sent this information out about what wines to serve at Thanksgiving. His message is clear – drink what you like, but if you are looking to create “classic pairings”, then this information will be relevant and might help you take your holiday meal to the next level. I hope you find it interesting, and Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Purpose Planning!
- Cru Beaujolais is my favorite and and it isn’t even close! Let me start with what this wine is not: It is not Beaujolais Nouveau, which is a mass produced, quaffable (gulpable) wine from France that is famous for races by distributors to get the first bottles to different markets around the world. Made from the Gamay Grape, Beaujolais Nouveau is made every October to celebrate the end of the harvest. However, while Nouveau is made with Gamay grapes that are average, some wine makers nurture the Gamay grape in much smaller quantities and give that grape a lot of love. They make wine from the special Gamay grapes called Cru Beaujolais (ten appellations in a part of burgundy, France that makes all Beaujolais). I LOVE this wine for Thanksgiving. It is inexpensive and can be complex. Raspberry, Cranberry and Tart Cherry on the nose and palate with hints of earth/dirt). Expect to spend $20-40. The best bet here is to ask a wine shop person. Any respectable wine shop should have a decent bottle or three of Cru Beaujolais.
- Pinot Noir – a finicky, feminine grape that likes cooler weather, elevation and careful processing. Generally speaking, I am not a fan of most Pinot Noir Wines from CA (there are great ones, but most I find to be very fruity and I am not a fan). Pinot Noir is feminine and requires a lot of effort to process correctly (hence, it tends to be more expensive). For Thanksgiving dinner, it should have hints of cranberry/raspberry/flowers and will be wonderful with anything you smother with cranberry sauce. I like Willamette Valley, Oregon Pinots (generally speaking), but here, cost becomes an issue. I have found that the more you pay for Pinot Noir, for the most part, the better the wine (except in Burgundy France, where Pinot is originally from – it’s a total crap shoot, but when you get a good one, it leaves an impression on your soul!). For this purpose, I consulted a Pinot Noir expert and he suggested Elk Cove Estate Pinot Noir, 2017 for a good, reasonably priced Oregon Pinot. I always suggest this Elk Cove, it sells for around $26 a bottle. Or you could easily walk into any wine shop and say you are looking for a yummy Oregon Pinot in the $30-$40 range.
- BUBBLES! Why wouldn’t you go with Bubbles? Sparkling wine is actually one of the BEST food wines EVER. Light, crisp, goes down easy – If you say the bubbles gives me a headache – I would say you are probably drinking sparkling wine that has too much sugar in it. You may need the help of a wine shop person to find a right bottle for you. If you are in/around Denver, I suggest trying Scarpetta Brut Rose – made by Master Sommelier, Bobby Stucky, owner of Frasca in Boulder, this wine is refreshing with hints of strawberry on the nose. It’s reasonable in price: $14-$16. This one is my favorite but I don't know how widely it's distributed.
- But what about the asparagus/artichoke/brussels sprouts? As I have shared with many of you over the years, Asparagus and artichokes are wine KILLERS. I’m not sure exactly why, something to do with the chemistry and I tossed in brussels sprouts just for fun. Well, the only wine I know of that actually compliments asparagus and is thus, my white wine varietal for any Thanksgiving meal is Gruner Veltliner. That’s right – the Austrian “Green Wine of Vetlin” is downright superb. And – you don’t have to spend a fortune – in fact if you do- shame on you! Go in to any wine store and ask the wine merchant for any Gruner Veltliner. Believe it or not, I tend to like the more pricey ones myself. So instead of cheaping out at 13.99, I suggest you dig deep for that 20.99 per bottle.
There you have it – classic wines to drink with Thanksgiving Dinner! Remember – the first rule is "Drink What You Like"! But pairing wine can be fun – especially with a challenging meal like Thanksgiving! Best of luck!