Proper Pairings of Wine Varietals for Thanksgiving
The holidays are all about proper pairings. You have to pair together the proper sides with the turkey. Grandma Shirley and Uncle Ned can’t be paired next to each other at the table. And everyone needs paired with a wine glass. While we can’t help you with Uncle Ned (let’s be honest, no one can), we can help you with wine. Here are some varietal suggestions for your pairing pleasure.
Furmit: A Hungarian grape (related to Chardonnay, believe it or not) with loads of appeal based on it’s natually high level of acidity and the diversity of wines produced from it. With aromas of smoke, pear, and lime its level of pair-ability is very high. The drier, non-boytritised styles are great to pair with dark-meat turkey, corn bread stuffing and sweet potatoes.
Aligote: Typically found in Burgundy, this little guy’s parentage includes Pinot Noir. Consumed young, it has notes of tart yellow apples and lemon. With some homemade apple pie or pear cobbler, this wine sings! Lower levels of acid won’t contribute to your heartburn after getting your grub on for several hours. Great floral aromas with a striking delicate finish.
Riesling: From Saar sub-region of Mosel Valley specifically. Powerful textures with a level of acid that cleanses the palate between bites, Saar Rieslings benefit from the Blue Devonian slate that also contributes a raging level of minerality! At an average ABV of 8-10%, you can drink this through an entire day’s worth of food & football and still feel pretty swell the next morning.
Chenin Blanc: Earthy and savory in its youth, Chenin blanc driven wines tend to reflect their place of origin similarly to Sauvignon blanc. The Chenin blanc from the village of Montlouis-sur-Loire are a great find. They are typically fully-dry with a pine-resin, apple cider, wooly quality that screams “Fall!”
Grignolino: Light-bodied and very herbal aromas make this the red to do with Thanksgiving din-din. Give it a slight chill and serve it as an apertif that can transition into the meal. Typically grown in Piemonte, it has nearly transparent color, but high acidity and tannin due to the abundance of seeds in the grapes. It is modeled by the Italians to be similar to Beaujolais, in that it is meant to be consumed young and is generally very red-fruit driven.
Frappato: This Sicilian grape traditionally produces light-bodied wines with very jammy red fruit aromas (bright strawberry) and flavors. High natural acidity makes it a great complement to cranberries, pecans, walnuts, baking spices, and holiday ham and turkey.
Pignolo: Hailing from Fiuli, this grape is a super-dark colored and has flavors of dark plum and blackberry. A relatively high level of acidity and tannin can make for a long-lived wine with great aging potential. It needs some time in oak to settle down the tannins, but 3-4 years under it’s belt, this wine is great around the fireplace after a long day of pigging out.
Gamay: My god! Gamay!? Yes, it’s true. Gamay may make the perfect Thanksgiving wine. Low in tannin, rich in fruit, with a moderate level of acidity to give it lift. It’s only coincidence that Beaujolais Nouveau is released right around Thanksgiving, but if you’re looking for a fun wine without pretense that the whole family will enjoy (if not tolerate), Gamay-focused wines are the way to go. You can always upgrade to some cru Beaujolais to make yourself feel more discerning and the crus of Moulin-a-vent and Fleurie are a bit more sophisticated when it comes to their complexity. Cheap, accessible, fun and boozy. This will make hanging out with your family for days on end much more interesting… And if anything, drinking enough of it will put a warm, fuzzy glow around your holiday season.
Maybe even Uncle Ned.
Happy Thanksgiving, y’all!