Thanksgiving Wine List: 2020
Thanksgiving this year is going to look a lot different for all of us. With the majority of the country on lockdown due to the Covid-19 resurgence, our tables will not be filled with the typical group of family and friends. This year you will not have to fight for the "good" meat with your aunt, hoard the sweet potatoes from your father-in-law, or hide your facial expressions as grandpa slips out a couple of bottom burps at the table.
It is best to try to relax and focus on what we do have control over: the wine. Thanksgiving dinner is by far the most challenging meal with which to pair wine. There are so many flavors that make an appearance on the Holiday tablescape. Your task is to pair wine with heavy buttery dishes, light herbal dishes, poultry, sweet sauces, dressed green vegetables and more. It's only a little bit overwhelming.
So where do you start with such a traditionally diverse meal? First, eliminate all high tannin wines from your list; they will overpower nearly everything on the table. Instead, go for high acid wines with aromas similar to those found in the dishes that culminate to create the Thanksgiving feast!
Pro-tip: If your grandma makes the best sweet potatoes in the world and your father-in-law has the same affinity for them as you do, offer to set the table. Place the prized dish right next to your wine glass and be sure to seat yourself a good distance from the sweet potato poacher. This way, you can dive in and get the first dollop of that savory sweet dish.
Ulrich Langguth Piesporter Günterslay Riesling Kabinett, 2018
If there is one wine that graces your table, make it a Riesling. Leave your preconceived ideas of Riesling at the door with your diet. This German grape variety is incredibly underrated and is often avoided due to the fear of the wine being too sweet. To avoid unwanted sweetness in your German Riesling look for Kabinett (dry to off-dry) or Spätlese (sweet). This way you will not miss out on arguably the best Thanksgiving wine pairing.
This Riesling from the Mosel wine region in Germany, is grown in a terrior with mineral-rich, slate soils which create high acidity and low tannin in the wine. Meeting the much needed requirements for this challenging dinner pairing. Medium bodied and mildly effervescent, this wine has notes of apple, citrus and petrol. The spice and oiliness that is left on the palate, matches the weight of buttery dishes like mashed potatoes.
Oenophile Fact: Germany has five sweetness levels: The two listed above, Auslese (sweeter), Beerenauslese (very sweet) and Trockenbeerenauslese (super sweet).
Clos St Michel Chateauneuf-Du-Pape Blanc, 2018 ($49.99)
Châteauneuf-du-Pape of Southern Rhone, makes some of the most applauded wines in France. The strict regulations of this region allow for the display of terroir to be easily detectable in the wine. Though I am not certain of the varietal percentages that create this particular white blend, we can assume it is comprised of mainly Roussanne or Grenache Blanc, with supporting grapes such as Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Picardin.
More than 90% of Châteauneuf-du-Pape wine production is red, which speaks to the rarity of this white wine. The creamy texture is well balanced on the palate with compliments of peach and almond aromas. The herbal and honeyed notes of this full bodied wine have the capability to withstand any over salted or over seasoned dishes.
Domaine de La Vivonne Cotes de Provence Rosé, 2019 ($13.99)
Provence, France is world renowned for its characteristically gold standard production of Rosé. These wines are commonly produced as a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, Cinsault, and Carignan, the signature grapes of the region.
The beautiful pale salmon color of the wine, hints at the limited amount of time the juice spent on the skins. It's crisp and off-dry with notes of thyme, red fruit, pink peppercorn, and orange peel. The herbal notes and high acidity of the wine make it the perfect pairing for dishes seasoned with oregano, thyme, and rosemary spices - I.e., all of Thanksgiving.
Oenophile Fact: Drink Rosé within the first year of its release, Rosé does not have the tannin or acidity structure to allow for aging. Before you take home a bottle for Thanksgiving, make sure to inspect the bottle for any oxidation/discoloring. If it looks a little rusty, pass on that bottle.
Winzer Krems Blauer Zweigelt, 2019 ($14.99)
Zweigelt, the most widely planted red grape varietal in Austria, is a great alternative to its traditional Thanksgiving wine counterparts Beaujolais and Pinot Noir. These wines consist of very similar tasting notes and overall structure.
Aromas of cherry and peppery spices fill the glass, as you sip on this bright, tart and perfectly juicy wine. Over cook the turkey? This wine will moisten up even the driest of birds. The medium weight mouthfeel and good amount of acid, also make the wine a great pairing with mayonnaise based dishes like Macaroni or Broccoli salads.
Oenophile Fact: Blaufränkisch and St-Laurent are the parent grapes to baby Zweigelt.
I hope these wines serve as a jumping off point or a shopping list for your Thanksgiving dinner. I recommend that you chill all of these wines (varieties) for 30 minutes prior to opening. These wines should NOT be served at refrigerator temperature. If the wines are too cold, they will tighten up and you will not get all of the pleasurable aromas they offer.
If you are looking for more great pairing options, take a look at last year's Thanksgiving Wine List. If you have any questions or suggestions, comment below, post on The Wine Tails Facebook Page, or message me @the.wine.tails on Instagram. Have a lovely Holiday and hang in there.
Cheers to you all and happy sipping!