Thanksgiving Food Pairing 2022 | saver

There are three reasons why choosing wine for Thanksgiving should be as easy as pie:
One, we’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.“We’re not exactly new to the game.
Two, turkey goes with everything and anything.—It is the best white canvas food.
Three, it’s about family, friends, sharing, celebrating—the one day in the whole year when pretense must be thrown out the window.

On the other hand, there are three reasons why choosing wine for Thanksgiving is fraught with danger:
One, it’s about family, friends—often a potentially explosive mix of religion, politics, cultures, values, generations, barely concealed ancient enmities (and fundamentally incompatible notions about appropriate drinks).
Two, it’s not about the turkey.—is everything else. The sides, oh the sides, oh my aching sides. Mashed potatoes or maple syrup glazed carrots? Stewed kale or fried brussels sprouts with bacon? Cornbread or corn pudding? Crab cakes or oysters? Pumpkin Pies or Jello Salad?
Three, we’ve been doing it for hundreds of years.—that’s a dinner influenced by Native Americans, English, French, Irish, Scottish, Italian, Chinese, Polish, Russian, Ukrainian, West African, Moroccan, Thai, Mexican, Caribbean, German, Spanish, Greek, Dutch… I could go in. The rich list of cultural influences on American interpretations of Thanksgiving is as complex as it gets.

With this thankless stalemate on our hands, the wine options could boil down to two general approaches:

Option A: If your Thanksgiving table is a smorgasbord of dishes, a chaotic clash of cultures and cuisines, a potluck, or something completely unknown (you’re in charge of the wine, but who knows what the cook will come up with) : basically one where it’s going to be next to impossible to “match” the wines with the food and then match the wines with the people.

Option B: If your Thanksgiving is a food-focused devotion, an homage to theme and style, pair the wines with the food.

As Option B is littered with a bewildering number of permutations and is really only possible once one has a specific menu at hand, we’ve gone with the situation you’re most likely to find yourself in: Option A.

Ignoring the blatantly obvious fact that I am ignoring all shades of gray, the group that gathers around your table can be defined, in relation to wine, as snobs, nerds, philistines, or whatever, each requiring a different approach in the wine aisle. . Here’s a quick guide to Thanksgiving dinner success.

snobs—The wines should preferably be traditional, classic, prestigious and, above all, expensive…

  • Cocktail: dry martini made with Silver Dry Gin from Nolet, a little Martini Extra Dry vermouth and a touch of lemon zest.
  • Fizz: Champagne, obviously, preferably stately and magnificent; Krug or Bollinger.
  • White: Burgundy, maybe add 2014 or even 2002 (Comtes Lafon, Leflaive or Roulot).
  • Rosé: do snobs drink rosé? Maybe not, but if there was going to be a rosé on the table, it would have to be Domaine Ott.
  • Red: Bordeaux (Châteaux Lafite, Latour, or Mouton (Pichon Baron if you’re in a slum) or a Napa Bordeaux blend (Opus One, Shafer).
  • Dessert: Sauternes (Châteaux Suduiraut or d’Yquem) and vintage port (Taylor’s, Graham’s).
  • Postprandial: Armagnac (Darroze, Labaude or Laberdolive).

nerds— you are looking for inland wines, a bit peculiar, perhaps made with wild yeasts and skin contact, from little-known or forgotten regions, ancient vines, unpronounceable grape varieties, or perhaps even non-grape fruits…

  • Cocktail: Negroni (perhaps made with Mommenpop Blood Orange vermouth, Don Ciccio & Figli’s Luna Aperitivo and Bluecoat American dry gin), though true wine nerds will seek out the fino or manzanilla sherry, perhaps a Navazos La Bota Team.
  • Fizz: What could be more eccentric yet quintessentially American than a completely dry sparkling wine made from cranberries, Bluet Champagne Method; or a US grown apple cider like Eve’s Cidery Dry Sparkling cider? If you stick to wine, look for New York’s bubbly Finger Lakes (Damiani, Dr. Konstantin Frank, Hermann J. Wiemer).
  • White: Jura, sous voile, vin jaune or ouillé (Domaine du Pélican, Tissot).
  • Amber/orange: Opt for amphora/qvevri wines from Friuli or Georgia (Gravner, Gotsa, Chona’s Marani).
  • Rosé: Look for earthy, idiosyncratic roses, like Tibouren from Clos Cibonne or the iconic R Lopéz from Heredia Rioja Gran Reserva Viña Tondonia fully ripe.
  • Red: Embrace exciting field blends from traditional California vineyards (Bedrock, Carlisle, Forlorn Hope, Turley) or look for rare Italian varietals (try Pelaverga Piccolo).
  • Dessert: Madeira might be considered the most traditional dessert wine and has a long history in the US (Thomas Jefferson and George Washington had a lifelong love of wine), but it’s also an insider’s wine. Blandy’s and Barbeito lead the way (look out for Ricardo Freitas’ brilliant Historic Wine Series).
  • After meals: apple brandy from the historic Laird & Company distillery in New Jersey, or perhaps the walnut or wild quince liqueurs from the Cazottes distillery in southwestern France.

philistines—following the Oxford Dictionary definition (“a person who is hostile or indifferent to culture and the arts”) and applying it to wine, which is why we are here, the harsh reality for us wine lovers is that gatherings Holidays from loved ones can be defined by complete disregard for what’s in the glass. As a wine lover, this situation requires careful handling. You want a drink you want to drink, but also something with universal appeal. Don’t break the bank.

  • Cocktail: Punch-House Spritz.
  • Soft drinks: Valdobbiadene Prosecco (Adami, Bellenda, Ruggeri).
  • White: Oregon Chardonnay (Adelsheim, Phelps Creek and Wetzel).
  • Rosé: Provence – Just avoid the famous brands that tend to be overpriced and overproduced and go for wines like Commanderie de la Bargemone, Bieler Père et Fils, Ch La Gordonne.
  • Red: Bojo and its lineage of bright fruit and thin tannins are the wines to look for here: Beaujolais (Guy Breton, Chapel, Dominique Piron), Oregon gamay (Brick House, Love & Squalor) or California Valdiguié, aka Napa gamay (Broc, Cruse Wine Co, J Lohr).
  • Dessert: who can resist a wine from the island? Try Donnafugata Ben Ryé Passito from Pantelleria, or a Muscat from Samos.
  • Postprandial: Bourbon.

All—the nightmarish mix of snobbish, teetotal, drink-obsessed, glug-anything, brand-dependent friends as long as it’s sweet and fizzy, heavy eaters and tight as ebenezer and family Everybody’s a martyr to commitment. You need easy-drinking, good-quality, crowd-pleasing wines that have enough fruit and freshness to go with anything.

  • Cocktail: DIY (a table loaded with vodka, gin, random mixers, stash the fancy tonics, a pitcher of sugar syrup, loads of lemons, mountains of ice, and let them get to work).
  • Fizz: Cava (Gramona, Juvé and Camps, Mestres, Sumarroca).
  • White: Alentejo whites, delicious, cheap (Herdade do Rocim, Quinta do Mouro, Susana Esteban).
  • Rosé: Rioja knows how to make a gastronomic rosé, full of fruit at a good price (CVNE, Marqués de Cáceres, Muga).
  • Red: Argentine malbec (Vistalba, Zorzal, Zuccardi).
  • Dessert: a younger Australian stickie (Campbells, Chambers Rosewood Vineyards, De Bortoli).
  • Postprandial: rye whiskey.

Thanksgiving is a time to be with people. I don’t usually say this, but let the wine take a step back.

Tamlyn Currin is a sustainability editor, writer and resident food expert at For more international wine coverage and expert advice on pairing, become a member.

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