Wine with Bird: Thanksgiving Wine Pairing Playbook

Thanksgiving is a complex meal.  There are so many decisions to be made and so many recipes for success. First there are all the cooking considerations; smoked, slow roasted, deep fried, spatchcocked or just cooked using mom’s tried and true recipe. Then to add to it all is the collection of sides that make Thanksgiving the biggest, most complex meal of the year. Potatoes mashed and sweet, yams candied and glazed, a green vegetable, cranberry sauce and the ever-important stuffing. This year will it be traditional sage, cornbread, or maybe a stuffing laden with oysters or apples or nuts of some kind? Then crown the entrée with gravy whether it is natural pan reduction, giblet, mushroom or otherwise. There is a lot to swallow just in preparing this most coveted turkey dinner and you have not even gotten to the drink. Let the Bottle Pros help you through the pre-turkey day challenges by offering you some simple suggestions and a bit of attentive service when you shop with us.

Looking to keep peace in the kitchen? Start the day by whipping up some Mimosas or some sort of Sparkling wine cocktail. We personally like to mix Le Contesse, Brut Prosecco with a dash of Cointreau and Pomegranate juice to make “The Poinsettia Cocktail”. Sparkling wine is ever versatile and can carry through the whole meal. Whether you are happy with a simple sparkler for toasting or the best of Champagnes we can steer you into the right wine.

Selecting a white wine can be a challenge with all the variations on the table. We typically try to stay away from heavier whites and look for mildly or un-oaked wines. That said, should you be smoking or char-grilling the bird, then an oaked Chardonnay plays very well. Below are a few of our picks for this year’s bird. These are wines that have versatility and can manage to compliment the vast array of flavors that make up the day.

With a traditional roast turkey we steer towards light, dry and crisp. This year we are suggesting the 2017 Cline Cellars Viognier. This is a wine with floral scents that rise from the glass and a dry palate loaded with tropical fruitiness. It also has a crisp refreshing acidity and nice thread of stony minerality. This wine serves to cleanse and refresh your palate as you work through the myriad of flavors presented on the holiday table. It also plays best with the white meat and provides a cut to all the butter and richer aspects of the meal.

Another white we suggest is the 2017 Chateau de la Bigotiere, Muscadet Sevre et Maine. This wine comes from the Loire valley in France and is made by a grape of the same name. Muscadet is a crisp dry white with citrus characters and a distinctive briny-calcareous minerality. Again, this wine carries enough acidity to act as a cleaner to the palate while pairing beautifully to the white meat and should  you be serving oyster stuffing this wine is a must!

If smoke is your thing and your bird has seen the grill or a smoker then go ahead and grab a great Chardonnay.  This year we have selected the 2016 Resolute Chardonnay from Sonoma. Crafted by two of California’s most talented winemakers (Aaron Pott & Kyle Mizuno) this Chardonnay is a solid candidate for the job. Ripe apple and pear fruit characters paired to a subtle toasty oak that is in perfect balance to the fruit make this a Chardonnay lovers wine. It loves the toasty parts of the bird and if you are lucky enough to grab a bit of crispy skin, the two will taste great together. It is also a great play with apple and walnut stuffing.

To nail down one red wine for such a grand meal is a challenge. We have always believed that one should drink what one loves and sometimes you can let the wine stand for itself and the food as well.

Conventional wisdom says softer, fruit driven reds like Pinot Noir best fit the bill. This year we are recommending the 2016 Pico and Vine Russian River Pinot Noir. Here is a wine that has all the things you want from a great Pinot Noir. Ripe cherry fruit, soft vanilla toastiness from French Oak, an herbal accent that is unexpected, and very subtle pepper spice from a dollop of Syrah thrown into the mix for good measure. This wine works with both white and dark meat and will pair beautifully to mushroom stuffing and the gravy.

Should your tastes run to something a bit fuller we have a few suggestions. The 2016 Domaine La Bouvaude Cotes du Rhone red is a medium bodied French red comprised of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah. It offers generous fruit characters and subtle spice in a wine that is slightly fuller than Pinot Noir. It plays well with the dark meat and with any root vegetable that may grace your table. If you are a lover of big, rich reds we have selected Wine Spectators 91 Point, 2016 Cline Cellars Zinfandel. This is a mouth-filling wine with red fruits and layers of spice and oak nuance. It is a wine that will satisfy the wine lover that insists on having something powerful but will also play nicely with the dark meat and richer aspects of the meal. We personally would love this wine with a leg and charred Brussels sprouts.

We have these and hundreds of more selections for your holiday table and have extra staff on to assist you and get you in and out of the store fast, saving the lines for the grocery store and black Friday. Finally, we have lots of great Port wines, Brandies, Winter Brews and Cordials to cap off your Thanksgiving celebration this year. We wish all our friends the happiest of holiday seasons and look forward to seeing and serving you!