Over the past weeks, I’ve been exploring wines that pair well with my favorite meal of the year – Thanksgiving dinner. In my family, we gather at my grandmother’s house each year and are only allowed to bring sides. At 91, she still insists on preparing the turkey and cornbread dressing, as well as baking both Pumpkin and Pecan pies!
Grandma Margaret is as stoic as she is stubborn, though, so we’re not allowed to have wine in her home – ever – so we have a second, informal gathering at our house the following day complete with leftovers and plenty of wine! This works out beautifully because a) most of the food is better the next day, b) there are always TONS of leftovers, and c) everyone is a bit more relaxed (hello – WINE!).
When selecting wines to serve at our day-after Thanksgiving feasts, I try to follow the golden rule “if it grows together, it goes together,” although I’m not sure how it applies to turkey. Usually I fall back on my go-to wine, Pinot Noir, which goes with just about everything.
The California vintages from Anderson Valley are particularly varied and delicious. Some are plush and juicy, while others are warm, spicy and herbaceous. They all pair as perfectly with your turkey as the cranberry sauce you’re serving with it.
To go with that dressing or some of the heavier sides, perhaps a more earthy, less fruity choice like an Oregon Pinot Noir. I particularly love wines from Willamette Valley. Their best efforts meld the elegance, higher acidity and longevity of Burgundy with the bright fruit flavors of California. Talk about a winning combination!
Which wine should you serve with dessert? If you’re having pumpkin pie, opt for a Chardonnay. It’s on the lighter side, but has enough body to pair well with the creaminess of the pie; it’s not overly rich or sweet so it won’t overpower it. For a sweet, gooey, molasses-like pecan pie, I’d recommend something with a bit more oomph. Madiera is a fantastic pick for this…mulled wine is another excellent choice.
Whichever wines you choose, remember to savor the company of your friends and family along with them. Gatherings of loved ones, whoever they may be, are cause for celebration!