Friday, November 9, 2012

Picking The Right Wine For Thanksgiving & Christmas Dinner!

Making Sure The Wine Isn’t The Real Turkey At Your Holiday Dinner!

To make Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner more festive many of us will be serving wine. But what wine goes well with turkey? Now hold on, not so fast, you also need it to work with yams, mashed potatoes, green beans, casseroles of all types, cranberry sauce and in many cases ham.

Then throw in dressing or is it stuffing to complicate your wine choice.

Dressings are all over the place.  At our house we have cornbread dressing. Our daughter-in-law loves a breadcrumb stuffing and one of my friends always has oyster dressing.

Let’s face it holiday meals offer different flavors, smells, textures, spices, lite foods and heavy ones, and don’t forget the desserts. No wonder people are confused about which wine to serve.  Red? White? Sparkling? Do you have one wine for the whole dinner or choose different ones for the different courses and tastes?

So to help make sure the wine is not a turkey here’s some easy pointers for the type of wines that go well with that big bird and everything else on your table.

Medium bodied wines that are well balanced with low acidity and or low in tannins go well with holiday meals. You’re looking for wines that won’t be overpowered by the heavy foods and won’t overpower the lighter foods. So bold Cabernets and acidic Sauvignon Blanc are usually not the best to serve and personally I wouldn’t bring out a Chardonnay. But fruitier wines with lower alcohol will go well with the turkey and everything else.  

Champagnes and Sparkling Wines are great!

I personally think champagnes and sparkling wines are a great choice, especially those made from red grapes like Pinot Noirs because they can handle the heavier foods and the lighter ones. Also pick extra dry over Brut because they're actually not as dry as Brut and are softer with more fruit flavors.

Try a Rosé!!
Rosés are also a great choice. They are an excellent bridge between white and red wines. They are light, crisp and flavorful with lower alcohol.  A dry Rosé made from Syrah, Grenache, Pinot Noir or Zinfandel grapes will go well with all your dishes. 

Get a sparkling Rosé and have the best of both worlds. And there are some really nice Italian sparkling Rosés.
White Wines will be a hit!

The white wines that will go well with all your holiday dishes should be well balanced, refreshing and fruity. Consider serving the following to make your dinner stand out for you and your guests.

Riesling: Sweet or dry, they are spicy and fruity with hints of apricot and peaches with floral fragrances.

Gewurztaminer: The name means spiced and they do have notes of nutmeg and clove. They can be sweet or dry; I like the dry ones best. They also have very aromatic hints of floral.

Pinot Grigio: Dry wines with fruit flavors of pear and apple with hints of lemon and mineral. They can be light or medium bodied.  

Viognier: fruity and floral with apricot, pear and peach with a nuttiness and undertone of spice. Very low in acidity.  

Now how about a red to make your dinner perfect!  

Red Wines are a little harder to pick than white because they are usually dryer and higher in alcohol. However the right ones can really add to your holiday dinner. The reds that will go with all those flavors on your table are the following:

Pinot Noir: fruity with cherries, plums, raspberries and strawberries.  

Syrah: Spicy with black pepper. Some are fruity and some smoky.

Beaujolais Nouveau: dry wines that are light, fresh and fruity.

Zinfandel: Intense wines that are plummy and jammy with hints of pepper and spice. Choose one with low alcohol.

Grenache: Light to medium body wines that have abundant red-fruit flavors of currant, cherry and raspberry.    

Dessert you say!!

All of the wines I’ve mentioned will go well with desserts, especially the champagnes and the sparkling wines. However if you insist that you need a desert wine, try a Port. They're fortified wines that are sweet with a fruity raisin taste. They’ll be great with all the sweets, and they really go well with pecan and pumpkin pies.     

Have a Great Thanksgiving!

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  1. Replies
    1. Don't waste your time with a California wine for Thanksgiving dinner - Go French. A mature Chateauneuf du Pape would be a good all-around choice if there are both soft and strongly flavored foods on the table. If you are serving turkey but not ham or anything too sweet or spicy, this is the time to open up one of those great bottles of Bordeaux that you have squirreled away in your cellar.

    2. I very much disagree, especially with the ham, too sweet or spicy disclaimer!! At our house ham, sweet and spicy all say Thanksgiving!!! And few of the wines I’ve listed are by definition American. Some can be and some are French. But Bordeaux will not do well with all the flavors usually associated with holiday meals! But to each their own!!!