Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Wine Wednesdays - What to Drink for Thanksgiving 2015 Edition

It's a toss up, but Thanksgiving might just edge out Christmas as my favorite holiday.  It's the official kick-off to the holiday season, it's my favorite meal, and I love the tradition of it all.  As I've gotten older, I've started to appreciate the wine pairings that go along with it as well.

I had so much fun hosting a Thanksgiving wine tasting for a client last week, I wanted to share my picks for what to drink with this year's Thanksgiving dinner.  

I wanted to play on traditional Thanksgiving pairings, but also explore some variations in regions and styles.  

A few general rules of thumb for pairings:  

1.  Remember at the end of the day, it's celebration, don't get too caught up in what to pair or perfect matching, drink what you like and enjoy the time spent with family and friends!

2.  When planning for your party, figure one bottle of wine per person.

3.  Wines should be lighter in alcohol, this is a long meal and a long day of celebrating, you wouldn't want your guests getting a little too toasted before the end of the meal ;-)


As guests arrived I poured a simple Italian Prosecco to start things off.  Bubbles are so much fun to kick off any celebration (or to take a standard night at home up a notch).  While Prosecco is great on its own, the play of a touch of nuttiness combined with a bit of sweetness is a great compliment to many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes.  


We kicked off the official tasting with a flight of Rieslings.  The mix of body, weight, spice, and rich fruit of Riesling stand up well to the richness of the Thanksgiving meal.  

First off, a bone-dry Reisling from Austria.  The 2014 Leth Riesling comes from the Wagram region in the northwest corner of Austria.  High-acid, light bodied, with citrus and tropical flavors balanced with a nice minerality.  This Reisling will challenge everything you think you knew about Reisling (it's not sweet!).

Next up, we compared the dry Riesling with a semi-sweet version from Dr. Konstantin Frank in NY's Finger Lakes region.  Dr. Frank is known as the father of conventional grape growing in the Northeast, he proved many naysayers that wine grapes could grow and thrive in the cooler climate.  The slight residual sugar gives this wine a sweetness that stands up well to the presence of fruit, sugar, and salt in the meal.  

Moving on to the reds,  we tasted a 2013 Beaujolais from Chateau Cambon.  Many of you may know Beaujolais as the traditional "Thanksgiving" wine, with Beaujolais nouveau being released on the third Thursday in November offering a preview of the most recent vintage.  This Beaujolais from Chateau Cambon is what is known as a Beaujolais Village, hailing from a vineyard in between the famous villages of Morgon and Brouilly.  The wine had a high acidity and nice raspberry flavors with a bit of minerality as well.

Our last wine was a 2013 Pinot Noir from Montinore Estate in the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  Typically, Oregon Pinots are going to be slightly more earthy than their California counter-parts, and more in line with the old-world style.  Another high-acid profile, with slightly darker fruits and a smoky, mineral finish.            



The earthy mushrooms in this brie paired so well with the Pinot and Beaujolais!
Aged Gouda is also a great match for higher-acid reds.
To finish things off, I poured a dessert wine from Orin Swift.  Their non-vintage Mute is a dessert wine made in a style similar to port.  Made from predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon blended with 4 Portugese varietals and fortified with brandy.  Many may choose a dessert wine or port to cap off your meal and be perfectly satisfied with that alone, for those that are looking to pair with a sweet bite, this is delicious with pecan pie or the obvious chocolate pairing!

Winning combination to finish off any celebration!
If you have any tips or tricks for what you like to drink I'd love to hear, leave in the comments below!

I hope everyone has a wonderful Thanksgiving!

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