It’s the time of year when almost every wine blog and major newspaper posts their Thanksgiving wine pairing suggestions. They range from the crazy 1WineDude pairing to the regional suggestions of New York Cork Report or Washington Wine Report or the predictable newspaper offerings. Why? Well, people must want to know. I look at how people arrive to my site almost daily and Google analytics tells me people are searching for Thanksgiving wine pairings. Since I live in Spokane and I love Spokane wine, here is what will be on my table if I can make it to the store in the midst of my schedule.
As people arrive for dinner and settle in to watch the Macy’s parade or the Cowboys or Lions game, it’s good to have something light and refreshing waiting for them. A good sparkling wine is always a hit. I’ll be serving the Northwest Cellars 2001 Brut. This wine is made in Oregon from Willamette Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and has a beautiful bready apple aroma and a crisp dry finish ($31) / available at Nectar Tasting Room
Another one of my favorites is Townshend Cellar Huckleberry Brut. A traditional dry sparkling wine with just a touch of huckleberry juice added for an amazing flavor that will please most discerning guests ($19) / available at Townshend Cellar and many local grocers.
Many people struggle with wine pairing at the Thanksgiving dinner table because there are so many varying flavors that compete for attention. Keep one thing in mind…acid. Wines that are high in acid help to cleanse your palate between bites and marry with the acidity that is present in most foods. Two really good options come to mind, Pinot Noir and dry Riesling.
Pinot Noir – Washington is not known for Pinot Noir but there are a few growing regions starting to show a lot of promise. Lake Chelan’s Hard Row to Hoe has a Pinot that presents earthy aromas of campfire, bacon and cherry fruit. The finish offers more structure than some candy strawberry Pinot’s out of Oregon. This wine reminds me of a traditional Pinot from Burgundy ($30) / available at Nectar Tasting Room.
Dry Riesling – Riesling is traditionally high in acid and pairing a bone dry Riesling with the traditional turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and yams makes a great balance in the flavor. Rieslings subtle apple and pear flavors along with the minerality and stone flavors will enhance the meal. Nodland Cellars Bebop Riesling ($19) is a top choice for me. The wine is available at many local retailers right now for $10-$15. Arbor Crest offers a good alternative with an off dry Riesling from Dionysus vineyards. The subtle peach, pineapple and honey flavors finish with the good acidity that is needed ($10-12). The wine was selected as one of the Wine Enthusiast top 100 value wines of the year – 91pts.
Other Ideas – Some other great wines for the table include the Pinot Blanc from Bridge Press Cellars. With slight citrus and tart characteristics the flavors will balance well with much of what is on the table. I would also suggest having an earthy Syrah on the table. One of my all time favorites is the 2008 Barrister Morrison Lane Syrah. It might be tough to find, but worth it if you can.
Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple crisp…so many dessert options. Finding a wine that pairs well can be a challenge. Once again a sparkling wine would work well here but finding something sweet can be fun too. As a general rule of thumb, find a wine that is sweeter than your dessert. The Latah Creek Mascato D’Latah is a perfect pairing. Flavors of peach, apricot, and honey are balanced by a sweet acidity. At $15, this wine will delight. If you’re in need of fruit salad in a glass, give the 2009 Terra Blanca Late Harvest Chenin Blanc a try.
Above all, enjoy time with your family and friends. All the wine you pair over the holidays is amplified by sharing it with the ones you love. Happy Thanksgiving and THANK YOU for all of your ongoing support and encouragement.
Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!