Ahhhh, the holidays are slowly approaching. Which means one thing, it is time to stock up on alcohol before your family takes over your house. So, you’re probably wondering, where should I start?! First you start with pouring yourself a drink and then start planning for the holidays.
While everyone is busy thinking about what to cook for Thanksgiving, people tend to forget that alcohol plays a big part too. Okay, maybe I am the only one that realizes it. Either way, here we are. So, let’s tackle this together.
Wine Pairing Breakdown:
This is where people tend to freak out. Now, if you’re having a larger group of people, roughly 6 or more people; I say, buy multiple varietals of wine and they can pick and choose from what they prefer. Trying to pair each course with different wines can be a bit of a hassle with a larger group. It can work, but why stress out on an already stressful holiday. So, with that in mind, I think there are some staple wines you can have for Thanksgiving that will work perfectly with each course.
Food for thought: I am a big supporter of drinking whatever you want to drink and eating whatever you want to eat. You do not need to abide by any rules that say what wine goes with what food because at the end of the day, you can do whatever you want.
So here are the different major categories of wine. While I don’t think all are necessary for Thanksgiving, I will talk about the varietals that I think will be best for your dinner. This is your night. Pick and choose from each category and varietal that you feel the most comfortable with.
- Sparkling wine: Any of them will work. Champagne, Prosecco, Cava, Cremant. Any will work. It is the best way to kick start your dinner. Whether you give it to guests as they walk in or pour a glass with the appetizer; it is a great way to start a meal. Sparkling wine goes well with a lot of foods & it is tasty.
- Light Bodied White Wine: This category can be optional. I am a part of the ABC club, Anything but Chardonnay. So, for those that have the same feelings as I do, this category is for you. Here you can use Sauvignon Blanc, which pairs well with the veggies in your Thanksgiving meal, or a Pinot Grigio. Both will complement the meal and not overpower it. Perfect for turkey, chicken. However, it won’t hold up well against ham. If you want to try an out of the box grape try: Gewurztraminer, Riesling (not the sweet stuff) or Chenin Blanc. These three can go with any food you want to.
- Full Bodied White Wine: Alright let’s just get it out there. Yes, Chardonnay is the perfect party wine. Why? Because everyone knows it. However, in this case I would recommend the French Burgundian Chardonnay over the California ones. The French are usually unoaked in style while still having a richness to them (more on that in the future). In all honesty, they too will pair with any part of the meal. They also have more weight than the grapes mentioned before. As for the buttery Chardonnays, while still good, they can overpower the palate to the point that it no longer enhances the food.
- Light Bodied Red Wine: Pinot Noir = Food Pairing Heaven. Pinot Noir is the red wine to have. It is meant to go with food. The fruit forward quality that it has goes so well with the different spices throughout the meal. It has the weight to hold up against red meat but still light enough to go with poultry. The acidity also helps cut the richness in the meal. Have I said enough to convince you? Good. If you want to be a little different, try Gamay from Beaujolais. Similar in style but a little less mature. Think of it as Pinot Noir’s younger sibling. It has the same fruit forward quality, just missing a little bit of the structure. Another good one would be Barbera. Look for this in your Italian Wine Section. Particularly in Piedmont. Known as the “everyday stunner” it comes from the same region that bring you the more expensive Barolos. Now, while the color is dark it is actually lighter in body. The high acidity and fruit forward quality is perfect for Thanksgiving as well.
- Full Bodied Red Wine: I included this category because there are people who will only drink heavy red wine no matter what they are eating. Which I totally understand. Now do I think you should be drinking the heaviest of red wine with your Thanksgiving spread? No. Maybe reach for your California Cabernet vs your Bordeaux. California style typically is fruit forward while still maintaining the earthy structure. The fruit quality will help balance the spices in your food. Now the fat and richness in the food will need the acidity to help balance the wine which Cabernet does lack.
Now, for a smaller get together you can easily try the multi-course wine pairing dinner. This part takes more in-depth research but can be done. I’ll be posting mine soon once I get my life together and figure out what I am cooking.
Added Bonus: A Signature Cocktail
You can take out some of the stress from above and make a signature cocktail. You can pass it out to guests when they come in, make a big batch of it like a punch, or offer it as a separate beverage option. This could be great if you want to add a nice fall flare to the evening. As well, you can make a nonalcoholic version for the kiddos at the dinner.
Here are some ideas:
- Cranberry Orange Sangria
- Holiday Mule
- Bourbon Spiked Hot Apple Cider, for those that live somewhere cold.