I love Thanksgiving. I love cooking, the gathering of friends and family, conversation, fellowship, some sports on the television, the dinner, and some wines to make it all even better.
This year, I will be joining my son Charlie’s grandparents. Joan, a really good cook, is doing the bird, and everyone will bring a favorite side. The house will be filled with all of my in-laws, who kindly accept me as family.
In past years, I have cooked complete holiday dinners for the family, at Joan’s house; turkey, or more fun, crab cioppino. Bringing only a side will be odd, but interesting. Instead of remaining separate from the family as cooking a full multi dish meal demands to some degree, I will be enjoying a greater amount of sharing conversation this year.
The only bad thing about Thanksgiving spent at someone else’s house is that there is no leftover turkey for day after sandwiches on Friday. I love sleep in Friday and leftover Friday more than I love Black Friday shopping.
Because I want left over turkey for sandwiches and soup, I will be cooking two turkeys at home this month. Turkey is always on sale in November, promotion priced, a loss leader, and I am taking advantage of the bargain pricing this year.
I will traditionally roast one stuffed bird, and rotisserie grill another in my set-it-and-forget-it machine.
One question arises each year. What wine goes with Thanksgiving dinner?
When choosing a Thanksgiving wine, let’s start with a reality: no one wine pairs perfectly with turkey, oyster stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green beans, polenta, involtini, cioppino, salad, squash, mince meat pies, pumpkin pies, cranberry chutney, and all of the delicious, but varied, treats likely to be served together for this one super meal.
I have poured Pinot Noir, because I believe Pinot Noir is the best food wine varietal, pairing well with a wide range of dishes. Not perfect, but good.
I have served Zinfandel, because Thanksgiving is THE American holiday, and I believe Zinfandel is THE American wine varietal. A little too hearty, this big red may not be the best match flavor wise, but philosophically I like the match, and it always seems to work.
I have served the open wine buffet, with bubbly and a variety of whites and reds, and let people pour what they want. It works, but lacks elegance.
I have served blends. It is nice if you don’t have to explain a GSM, but be prepared to tell the tale of the classic Chateauneuf-du-Pape blend of Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvedre, rhone varietals all, anyway. There are a number of GSM styled wines available, including Bonny Doon’s Le Cigare Volant California, Halter Ranch GSM Paso Robles, and Miro Cellars Cuvee Sasha Dry Creek Valley. The different grapes of the varietal blends allow for a larger number of flavor notes in the wines that can allow wider pairing across a breadth of dishes.
A wine I tasted for the first time last holiday season, and easily recommendable, is another blend, but not a classic blend so much as a make sense blend. Trinchero Family Estates owns Folie a Deux winery which makes Menage a Trois wines. The 2008 Menage a Trois Red is a blend of three of California’s most popular red wine varietals, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Zinfandel. The wine is made to be easily enjoyed, enough tannin and acid to present lush bountiful fruit, and paired nicely with everything on my plate last year. You can buy this wine for $12 a bottle, or with a little shopping around find it for around $8. And it is a perfect food wine.
I hope you pair your Thanksgiving dinner with wine, the wine will make the food taste even better, it loosens the tongue of conversation, and more important than pairing with food, wine goes best with friends and family in fellowship. You can’t pick wrong, but hopefully, I’ve given you some ideas that are helpful.