Your friends and family have many things to be thankful for this holiday season. Perhaps, your wine pairing suggestions aren’t one of them. Whether you’re cooking up a classic turkey, or novelties like a turducken (a turkey stuffed with a duck, stuffed with a chicken), choosing wine for your holiday dinner should be as easy as drinking them.
Since Thanksgiving is a meal all about tradition, fussing with multiple courses is probably not the norm. Put a red, a white and a bubbly on the table and let guests mix, match and help themselves. For wines that can stand up to the bird and multitask through the sweet and gooey yams, tangy cranberry sauce and savory sides, look to Spain.
Deep, earthy flavors like wood smoke, garlic or mushrooms give turkey a savory mellow richness. If your turkey is smoked or infused with herbs, look for wines that express similar flavors.
The vibrant and earthy black cherry flavors with hints of coffee in Valduban Crianza ($18) taste great with a savory bird. For something lighter and livelier, Segura Viudas Creu de Lavit ($15) is a soft white wine that is bursting with flavor. Aromas of pineapples and ripe pears, over a base of cinnamon and subtle smokiness from the use of oak make this a wonderful pairing with a smoked turkey stuffed with mushroom and apple dressing. This wine adds to the experience, instead of falling flat and disappearing like a lot of white wines.
Young fruit-driven Rioja wines can enhance tongue-tingling seasonings like black pepper, fiery jalapeno and cayenne. For some who like the heat to carry on and on, a tannic wine is the answer. Montecillo Crianza ($10) has the youthful fruit and spice that this bird needs to make it a fiery masterpiece. Vionta AlbariÃ±o ($18) is an elegant and aromatic white wine that has enough acidity to handle spicier dishes (think spicy Asian or Cajun style turkey) and cleanse the palate between bites.
When you’re serving a mÃ©lange of meats with multiple personalities, there are some wines that seem to do it all. Look for food-friendly Segura Viudas Mas d’AranyÃ³ ($15), a wine with herbal notes to compliment your rosemary or thyme-infused bird and complex fruit flavors making an easy match to the cider-baked ham with honey apricot glaze and cloves. For a softer approach, try Montecillo Reserva ($20) with a boneless chicken stuffed with goat cheese, lamb sausage and arugula. The mature fruit flavors and mellow, refined tannins from extended aging provide the perfect balance.
Consider cava, or sparkling wine from Spain, with a comfort meal like Thanksgiving. It works with nearly any kind of food, and it’s an inexpensive way to elevate the meal to a true celebration of family fun and great food. Because of its dry style and soft, clean flavors like green pear and lemon, consider Freixenet Cordon Negro Brut ($10) for your house wine. The tiny bubbles, exciting uncorking sensation, and its distinctive black bottle, will make for a memorable holiday. As long as you’re (over) indulging, a treat for both the eye and palate is the artisanal Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad ($20) a dry crisp champenoise cava featuring delectable aromas of green apples and baked bread. This bubbly comes with a bonus: a gorgeous bottle emblazoned with a pewter family crest and a hefty carved pewter base, making Segura Viudas Reserva Heredad a centerpiece in itself.
For wines paired with sugar and spice, and all things niceâ€¦remember that the wine should always be touch sweeter than the dessert. Otherwise, the luster in the wine can be lost, resulting in dull and acidic tastes. For pumpkin or pecan pie Osborne Pedro Ximenez Sherry ($20) is the perfect counterpart, adding an abundance of warm, nutty and spiced-tinged flavors that complement both pies deliciously without competing. For dark or milk chocolate desserts look to Osborne 10 Year Old Tawny port ($32). This fortified wine has cinnamon, nutmeg and almonds nuances that highlight the caramel and nutty notes in the chocolate, resulting in an enhanced overall chocolate flavor.
Now sit back and take the credit while guests sip and gobble in aweâ€¦and give all the thanks to you.