As one of America’s big feasting festivities approaches, here are some thoughts for food and wine.
You’ve probably heard of a food coma. It’s a common occurrence for those who like to eat and drink to the fullest on Thanksgiving. Even though traditional Thanksgiving meals are heavy, most people have a hard time pushing back from the table. Over-indulgence is often the order of the day, even when you try to apply the brakes and park your fork.
My wine advice is this: Drink your best wines early, while your palate and brain are still sharp and appreciative. Don’t wait until 9:30 at night to uncork that turn-of-the-century Château d’Yquem you’ve been sitting on. By then everyone will be stuffed, if not dazed and confused by the day’s mishmash of entrées. Older, subtler wines—reds and whites alike—are often better, and better understood, on their own, and it’s often better to serve a special bottle to start the dinner off than to finish it. Even if you have an old sweet wine like Yquem, or especially if you do, serving it first is the right idea. It’s the same strategy as buying the first drink at an after-work get-together. People are more likely to remember if you bought the first round rather than the last—if they remember anything at all about pouring order or protocol.
It’s also OK to go for simpler wines. Thanksgiving dinners can be such a kaleidoscope of flavors, weights, textures and aromas that finding one wine that will satisfy every course is challenging, even more so if you’re at a big party. (If you’re inclined to look for just one wine, consider Pinot Noir.) The point about serving simpler, perhaps lighter-weight wines is that they’re versatile in a setting like this. Better to just enjoy rather than try to challenge all the flavor nuances of Turkey Day.
On holidays, some wine lovers also have a tendency to go heavy on trophy wines, which is fine, but ill-advised. Oftentimes an overload of rich, full-bodied wines that deserve more careful attention are summarily consumed (dare I say gulped) without much thought, as if one were playing “drain the bottle.” Let’s face it, for most people wine is a beverage, not a religion. I speak from personal experience. Most often I’m called upon to bring wines to dinners of all sorts, and unless it’s a group of connoisseurs (and I mean that in the sense of people who really care about the status of what they’re drinking), good, well-made wines are perfectly serviceable.
I also like sparkling wines to bookend the day. It’s a festive way to begin a party and a refreshing means to wrap it up.
Homer Cox — Warrenton, VA — November 22, 2011 9:57pm ET
Fred Brown — Maryland — November 23, 2011 1:34am ET
Paul Malinowski — Littleton, CO — November 23, 2011 3:04am ET
John Wilen — Texas — November 23, 2011 10:30pm ET
Eric Swanson — Westlake — November 28, 2011 9:47am ET
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