Unusual Wines to Match Your Thanksgiving
It is believed that red turkeys made from Pinot Noir or Gamay grapes and white ones made from Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc are best suited for a meal on Day. Occasionally American zinfandel, holiday champagne, or white wines such as chenin blanc, riesling or gewürztraminer are also welcome. These are common guilt suspects for one simple reason: They are really good with standard Thanksgiving food.
I would never advise anyone to give up these traditional T-Day selections; I love Beaujolais (made from din) any day of the year. However, I think the holidays are an opportunity to taste unusual or unexpected food and wines . Part of the joy of the holiday is that you don’t usually eat or drink, because the holiday is ultimately just a party.
To select custom wines for Thanksgiving, I set several criteria. First, the wines I choose must be available both economically and geographically. I may be a wine snob , but inexpensive wines can be delicious, especially if you want to sample lesser-known styles, varieties or regions. The most expensive bottle I bought was $ 20, but it was a waste of time.
I selected all eight wines I tried (and one cider) from my local Trader Joe’s . The selection of TJ wines varies greatly from region to region, but you may find an option similar to mine below. If you are unsure when buying, ask someone who works in the store for help. (I’ll tell you what to ask for and what to avoid in my guidelines below.)
The trick for these wines was to find bottles that didn’t distract or clash with most of the things on the traditional Thanksgiving table. Sweet sides like cranberry sauce and yams can be difficult on this front because most wines on the table will be dry-fermented, which can have a bitter taste if drunk after a sweet bite. Vegetables like green beans and Brussels sprouts can also cause problems due to their acidic green taste. Very oaky or tannic wines were immediately ruled out, because the acids in vegetables make the wine too harsh and even slightly unpleasant. A couple of wines that I liked on their own had to be discarded because they just didn’t taste good with green beans or cranberries. After eliminating anything that tasted like food, I started looking for wines that would enhance the flavor of certain dishes. A good wine combination enhances both the flavor of the food and the wine, creating a very tasty bite. I live for a very good bite and I want other people to experience it for themselves. It was my beacon for my selection of wines below, as well as a beacon for my life.
Instead of homemade chardonnay or chablis, try the semi-dry Vouvray.
The wines from the Loire Valley are so hot now, and the grape varietal chenin blanc is experiencing something of a renaissance. Vouvray is an appellation from the Touraine region in the Loire, where white wines are produced from Chenin Blanc grapes with possibly a small addition of arbois. They range from dry to sweet and can be sparkling, semi-off, or still. I chose a still wine with a lower alcohol content (11.5% ABV) with a little residual sugar. What’s great about chenin blanc is that it’s not necessarily the most fruity white, so a semi-dry bottle can have delicious notes like honeysuckle and spice. The one below was labeled “semi-dry,” and I was surprised at how well that sweetness pairs well with sides like butternut squash and cranberry sauce, contrasting delightfully with Maillard’s turkey and gravy flavors . If you’ve ever dipped fries in soft ice cream, you’ll see why the slightly sweet / salty contrast works here.
My pick: 2016 Vignobles Lacheteau Vouvray Loire Valley. USD 7.99
Instead of homemade or French sauvignon blanc, choose one from the Marlborough region of New Zealand.
The unique Marlborough terroir gives these wines a fruity taste with a crispy gooseberry crust and tropical notes such as grapefruit or passionfruit. While tropical fruits are probably not the first taste that comes to mind when you think of autumn in the United States, the acidity of these wines goes well with the astringency of cranberry sauce. At the same time, the base notes of hay / herb / green peas that are present in these wines complement any green vegetables you may have on your table. When buying a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc for Thanksgiving, look for one with mild alcohol that won’t outperform the food – around 12.5% is ideal. Try to get 2016 or 2014 if you can.
My pick: 2016 Oyster Bay Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. US $ 11.99
Instead of champagne … take champagne, fools
Look, I’m for a budget wine selection, but when it comes to champagne, I think you should just spend the money to get real champagne with a capital letter C. Brut nature (no added sugar during secondary fermentation) Blanc de Blancs (completely made from chardonnay) is damn gorgeous. However, if I’m going to shell out money for one, I tend to just want to drink it alone or pair it with something very simple like a brie slice or potato chips. If you are spending money on champagne, you should enjoy it before meals, unless you are Warbucks dad or anyone else, in which case you should drink champagne with every meal.
Aside from champagne, there are many viable sparkling drink options that can be paired with a meal. French sparkling wine produced in a different region than Champagne is a great option as it can have really great flavors at a more reasonable price. For T-day, I could choose Crémant de Loire or Crémant D’Alsace. Another great choice is to buy cava from Spain; the ones made by Bodegas Naveran are a personal favorite. (I often hear the French like it too.)
Another great sparkling drink to serve with your Thanksgiving meal is French sparkling apple cider, which isn’t even wine! Apples are very popular for fall, ciders are cheap and have a lower alcohol content, making them affordable for most of your guests and suitable for marathon food and drink. Compote aroma, rounded mouthfeel and crunchy sweetness accentuate the salinity of savory dishes, enhance the fresh taste of vegetables and only slightly soften the sweetness of your sweet sides.
My choice: Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut. US $ 4.99
Instead of local Pinot Noir or Burgundy, try Jumilla Monastrell.
Jumilla – DO in southern Spain. A number of red grapes are grown in the region, but Monastrell (also known as Mourvèdre or Mataro) is often considered the most successful cultivated here. Indeed, the Jumilla I chose was 100% Monastrella, a grape that is darker than Pinot Noir and has a fuller body, more pronounced tannins and warmer notes of blackberry jam, plum and dark red cherry. … I found the wine had enough acidity to cleanse my palate, and the notes of vanilla, cocoa powder, green pepper, and herbaceous olives were soft, but offered some complexity to the food pairings. These flavors were subtle enough not to conflict with cranberry sauce or green beans, but they did thrive with a slice of turkey and gravy.
When choosing them, you will want to find a younger wine, for example, 2015. Avoid foods labeled Doble Pasta as they are likely to be too tannin and overwhelm the meal. Also, avoid anything labeled crianza, reserva or gran reserva because these wines will age longer and spend more time in oak. The younger version of this wine goes well with this dish, which might be labeled “vino joven” or “sin crianza”. Open the bottle an hour or two before serving, or toss it into a blender to open it .
My choice: 2015 Albero Jumilla Monastrell. USD 6.99
Choose Amarone della Valpolicella instead of homemade Zinfandel.
Zinfandel not only pairs well with game and meat, but we also grow it in the USA, which in some ways makes it a quintessentially American wine. They are also very high in alcohol, making them the perfect addition to flavorful foods like barbecues and roasted peppers. If you can find wine that is acidic enough, these wines will be balanced enough not to overpower Thanksgiving meals, but the price of good Californian zinc can be high.
Like the zinfandel, Amarone della Valpolicella is a powerful wine with a high alcohol content, bursting with jam. They usually cost well above the $ 20 per bottle mark, but regulations in the wine regions and sub-regions of France, Spain and Italy make the wine more consistent across different price points. Amarone della Valpolicella is produced near Venice, mainly from Corvinus grapes, left to dry partially in whole bunches before slowly fermenting. As a result of this process, rich raisins, currants, figs and fruit compote are obtained, and the tannins are rounded.
Of the wines I tasted, this surprised me the most. I did not expect a full-bodied wine with such intense warm fruity notes to have the same acidity as this wine and its tannins to be so delicate and silky. Plus I was amazed when I tasted this wine with cranberry sauce. The aroma of fruit compote, along with notes of vanilla and oak-aged spices, made the cranberry sauce truly sound like a fruity spice waltz with fruity spices. If you can find Amarone at a reasonable price, I would recommend serving it in the middle of a meal, perhaps after the protein has disappeared. Since it contains a lot of alcohol, you will want this wine to be the last one. Think of it as wine to be sipped off your plate for a few seconds and before you take a nap before pie.
If you can’t find Amarone at cheaper prices, look for ripasso wine instead. Ripasso della Valpolicella – red wines that are “passed” through the cake (grape residues) from Amarone, which gives them the aroma and viscosity of dried fruits. Since the process is less labor intensive, they operate on the cheaper side.
My pick: 2013 Pasqua Amarone Della Valpolicella. US $ 19.99
Remember, quirky wine pairings are festive entertainment in a fun, experimental manner, so don’t worry. You can’t pick the “wrong” wine, friend. And if you find an unconventional T-day combination that works oddly, tell us about it!