By The Glass
Thanksgiving wine pairings take thought
CLUCK, CLUCK, gobble, gobble! Every year at Thanksgiving we are besieged with inquiries about what wine goes well with turkey. Matching wine with Thanksgiving food is more difficult than one would suspect because of the myriad dishes that comprise the meal -- compounded by each family's spin on the theme.
It would be easy to suggest a merlot to go with turkey meat, but the same merlot will not go with cranberry sauce and yams. And while I can confidently suggest a nice pinot noir to go with my mother's traditional bread stuffing with pork sausage and vegetables -- which I love -- pinot noir wouldn't do so well with my mother-n-law's mochi rice stuffing -- which I equally love (no kidding, I'm not trying to be diplomatic here).
No one recommendation will do. It depends what dishes you serve and how the dishes are prepared.
Having said that, I typically suggest red wines that are fruity, on the light-to-medium side, without heavy tannins or acidity. These types of wines are versatile with food in general, so they can do well with your meal, too. You can always go with a beaujolais, and as the annual phenomenon known as beaujolais nouveau, young and fruity beaujolais, is released one week before Thanksgiving, it is always a convenient and appropriate choice.
If you prefer something different, grenache, mourverdre and syrah wines are the ones I suggest you seek. A top-notch Chateauneuf de Pape, which usually incorporates those grape varieties in a blend, is a great selection, and one that I'll likely drink myself on Thanksgiving. Tempranillo, a Spanish grape variety, also tends to yield wines that fit the description.
HERE ARE SOME of inexpensive suggestions:
2004 Rosenblum Syrah Vintner's Cuvee ($12.99): From California, this is lush with bountiful blueberry, blackberry and raspberry flavors. The texture is smooth, suave and elegant. Finishes sweet and satisfying.
2004 Sindoa Tempranillo-Merlot ($7.99): An incredible value, soft, refined and smooth. Lots of berry character along with some earth and mocha flavors.
2003 Venta Mazzaron($15.99): 100 percent tempranillo. Exuberant with blackberry, mineral, licorice and earth, plus a touch of fruit liqueur. Ripe and plush, it is integrated, with refined tannins.
2004 Luzon Verde ($9.99): 100 percent monastrell (mourverdre). The wine is dark, structured and medium-full, but still fruity, sweet and spicy.
IF YOU PREFER white wine, choose one that is lively, fresh, not heavily oaked, but with some weight. I would suggest a marsanne, viognier, roussane blend.
2003 Trignon Cotes du Rhone Blanc ($13.99): Lovely aromatics from the viognier. Peach and honeysuckle flavors with just the right amount of spiciness to make this wine really interesting. The wine has a slightly oily texture, which will help it stand up to the food.
Jay Kam is president of Vintage Wine Cellar. This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals.
This column is a weekly lesson in wine pairing written by a rotating panel of wine professionals. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org