By Barbara Hay
When it comes to Thanksgiving wine pairings, there are no hard and fast turkey pairing rules, just plenty of pairing options to experiment with and see what works best for you and yours.
The are; however, some safe bets for Thanksgiving red wines: Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel. Remember when selecting a red wine you are looking for a wine with fairly tame tannins that will yield to and support the flavors of the food.
Keep in mind that you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to offer a lovely selection of wines. There are many well-received, well-rated value wines that you can obtain for $10 or less.
Here are some options to get you started.
Beaujolais Nouveau: A light, fruity red wine, from the Gamay grape, that goes quite well with turkey and all of the fixings. This wine is released from France on the third Thursday of November, just in time for your Thanksgiving feast!
Pinot Noir: This red wine is a traditional favorite because of the subtle earthy undertones and mushroom flavors that are inherent in this wine along with the lovely cherry fruit flavors that tend to meld well with the traditional flavors of turkey and stuffing.
Zinfandel: A fuller-bodied red wine that has more intensity than a Pinot Noir, but with it’s fruit forward appeal, still manages to balance many traditional Thanksgiving dishes. This is a great wine pick if you’re looking for a heartier red wine to pair with the spicy, bitter and sweet flavor profiles of Thanksgiving.
Syrah/Shiraz: Syrah can bring a spicy edge or a meaty character to the meal, thereby increasing the complexity. Yet this wine can graciously handle the cornucopia of traditional Thanksgiving flavors. Since Syrah offers spicy and peppery notes it will partner well with herb stuffing and turkey meat.
Rosé and Sherry wines are also worthy of consideration for Thanksgiving wine pairing potential. These two categories provide a go-between for those that are not firmly camped in either the red or white wine trenches. If you opt for a rosé wine, a drier selection will be the most versatile for pairing with virtually any part of the Thanksgiving feast.
Of course, when it comes to Thanksgiving desserts and pie pairings, fortified wines come immediately to mind. Pairing port with dessert is a standard matchup and goes beyond pumpkin and pecan pie. Sherry lovers should consider Pedro Ximénez or a Cream Sherry, to contribute a delicious nutty, sweet spice-filled character to pumpkin or pecan pie. Fortified wines can offer the sweetness and the viscosity to support the rich flavors and robust spice of the pumpkin pie as well as the caramelized flavors found in a pecan pie.
But, when it is all said and done, choosing a Thanksgiving Day wine is truly about what you prefer and what your guests will enjoy.