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Choosing a Wine for Thanksgiving

Wine for ThanksgivingWhat is the best wine to serve at Thanksgiving? Plenty of websites out there offer up lists and suggestions, but there really isn’t a clear answer to that question.  Thanksgiving dinner is full of a wide array of flavors and the traditional centerpiece – that bird that you’ve slaved over for hours and hours, and possibly brined for days – is a fickle thing to pair with wine. Too powerful and the wine overpowers the bird, too delicate and the wine is lost among the bevy of side dishes.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday by far since it’s purely about enjoying food and company. Food and company also happen to be the two best friends of wine. I love Thanksgiving so much that this year I’m going to three dinners and last year I went to four. Usually, I’m the only wine enthusiast at these dinners with any sort of formal wine education, so the other guests often defer to me when it comes to wine.

My answer to my friends, family and to you is that you don’t need to have a wine education or consult a wine expert to figure out what to bring to a Thanksgiving dinner: the best wine is the one you bring to share.

Wine should not be the focus of a dinner with family and friends. The fact of the matter is, not everyone loves wine, and not everyone is going to rave about the fact that the 1980 Shafer Zinfandel is drinking way better than it has any right to. Some people will just want to have ginger ale or beer or milk. So don’t stress about it and bring a wine you’re happy to share.

Here are some wines that Marie Keep and I will be sharing this year:

1996 Huet Vouvray “Le Mont” Moelleux Premiere Trie

Just like your dinner, this wine is quite the mouthful! The beauty here is that the wine can slip in anywhere on the menu: as an aperitif, with the salad, paired with the turkey, or even as the dessert. While technically a dessert wine, the acidity is so perfectly balanced with the sweetness of the botrytized Vouvray that it’s almost refreshing to drink. It’s a real crowd pleaser and a single bottle will go a long way. — Michael

2009 Friedrich Becker Spätburgunder “B”

This terrific example of a German Pinot Noir tends to be a bit leaner than Burgundian examples without sacrificing earthiness. Far from being a juice bomb, this is another wine that could fit into the menu just about anywhere. And who doesn’t like an excuse to say “Spätburgunder”? — Michael

Pierre Peters Brut Cuvee Reserve NV

For sipping during dinner prep, this beautiful Champagne is worthy of kicking off a day of great eating and drinking.  The components are vividly clear – crisp light fruits and gentle rich creaminess cut through with brilliant layers of minerality.  It will wake up the palate, keep the kitchen staff happy, and the socializers primed for the first course. – Marie

Louis Jadot Clos Vougeot 1996

This selection pairs beautifully with caramelized vegetables – yams, sweet potatoes and other root vegetables — as well as with cranberries made savory with gravy.  The tannins will provide a fine backbone for all the flavors on the plate to come together while allowing the wine to hold its own. – Marie

Paul Jaboulet Aine Hermitage La Chapelle 1997

This wine will tower over the table, but will provide a step back from the laden dishes as it will take on-point concentration to sip. Once the palate has readjusted a bit, the eating can recommence – it will be something of an early drinking date for this particular bottle of wine, but provides a compatible counterpoint to the over-the-top nature of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. — Marie

What will you be pouring this Thanksgiving?

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