Talking Turkey With White Wines

By Barbara Hay ~

Thanksgiving is quickly approaching, time to start selecting wines to accompany your Thanksgiving dinner.

Each year, the same question arises: which wines pair with a variety of tastes, textures, and aromas that are uniquely present on Thanksgiving Day? Do you choose one wine to carry you through appetizers to desserts – or do you opt for several wines to accent different components of the meal and cater to a variety of guests’ palates?

From appetizers to white and dark turkey meat, mashed potatoes, yams, herb-filled stuffing, cranberry sauce, creamed onions, green bean casserole, pickled this and peppered that, all the way to pumpkin or pecan pie – is there truly a single wine that can take you seamlessly from start to finish?

Yes. If you opt for sparkling wine—a popular year-round pairing partner, and they go with just about anything. Sparkling wines bring both elegance and phenomenal food-pairing versatility to virtually any meal, but with Thanksgiving, these wines really shine. With sparkling wines, you only need to pick your favorite Champagne, Cava or Prosecco.

The art of pairing wines with food is largely a matter of personal preference; however, some safe bets for Thanksgiving wines are Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel for red wine lovers and Sauvignon Blanc, Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Viognier for those who prefer white wines. With white wines, the pairing priority is finding a wine with well-balanced acidity.

The choice is entirely up to you, but here are some options to get you started:

Sauvignon Blanc: with its crisp, citrus-based flavors and mineral undertones with a hint of herbs, this favorite white is a prime pairing candidate for turkey and mashed potatoes.

Riesling is a family favorite and can run the gamut from bone-dry to sweet which makes them a great choice for foods that are spicy, salty or sweet. Riesling’s flavors of apple, apricot, honey and its bright, crisp, acidity give it a significant pairing edge with the likes of sweet potatoes, turkey meat and spice-laden or herb-filled stuffing.

Gewürztraminer: This white wine tends to have the aromatic gusto and spicy palate appeal that give it a solid standing with turkey and gravy, bringing out the best in both.

Pinot Grigio: Capable of handling garlic and onions, herbs and rich, flavorful, high-fat dishes, this white wine is a natural for the demands of Thanksgiving Day.

For something a little off the beaten path, why not give Albariño or Viognier a try? You might not find them as familiar a choice as any of the above or Chardonnay. but these two wines are food pairing dynamos. These wines can take your guests on a little wine adventure, while still maintaining perfect pairing power.

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