In the run-up to Thanksgiving every year, it seems, every wine pundit weighs in on what to drink with the Thanksgiving dinner. I tend to shrug it off, having offered my viewpoint dozens of times before. But now, with the interaction possible in this blog, I am wondering how those reading this are going to approach the vinous component of Thursday's feast.
First a quick summary of my take:
The standard-issue Thanksgiving feast, with its marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, sweet-and-sour cranberry relish and catch-all turkey stuffings, does a fine, delicate wine no favors. Combine that with the range of personal preferences at a big gathering of family and friends, and you narrow the field to uncomplicated, fruit-forward wines. Save the Lafite for the next gourmet dinner.
Some years ago, well in advance of the holiday, I roasted a turkey with herbed bread stuffing, made some gravy and tried a couple of dozen different wines with it, just to see what worked. They all did, from sparkling wine to sweet Rieslings, from Beaujolais to a big Syrah. Add cranberry relish and one by one they all fell by the wayside, except for the fizz, the sweet Riesling and a fruity Zinfandel.
From that I concluded that you have two choices. One, you can serve the traditional fare and keep the wine simple. Or, you can adjust the menu to be more wine-friendly. Lose the marshmallows off the yams and make sweet potato soup instead to start things off. Save the cranberries for dessert. Keep the stuffing's flavors mild.
Uncle Fred may grumble at the loss of familiar dishes, but the wine possibilities grow exponentially. Almost anything works.
Because Thanksgiving is the American holiday, I go for American wines. But you can also make the argument that we are a nation of immigrants, so don't let me stop you from honoring your forebears with something from their part of the world.
Finally, a big gathering around a groaning table is the perfect chance to serve a variety of wines. Rather than pop six bottles of the same, open some light whites, ripe reds, and everything in between.
That's what I do. How about you?