Over the Barrel: Turkey Day Wine Tips

It’s almost Thanksgiving and in the wine world that means one thing: wine columns. Lots and lots of wine columns. Editors demand them so writers write them.

The funny thing is, if you read enough of these columns, you’ll see just about every style of wine recommended as the “perfect” pairing for Thanksgiving.

Don’t believe any of it. A singular “perfect” wine does not exist when it comes to Thanksgiving dinner. [expand]

Look at the myriad foods that you’re eating on Thanksgiving day. In addition to that often nearly neutral turkey, you have highly spiced stuffing (that can include oysters, chestnuts or sausage), rich gravy, green bean and/or sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, not-easy-to-pair Brussels sprouts… I could go on, but you get the point.

With all that variety of flavors and textures, there isn’t any single wine that is going to make all of these taste better. No, not Riesling. No, not pinot noir. No, not merlot.

Personally, I think that – despite what wine “experts” and sommeliers would have you believe – wine pairing isn’t difficult. Often it is much more about avoiding bad pairings than it is finding the singular “perfect” one. Wine pairing rules are meant to be broken.

Here is my simple wine-pairing advice for Thanksgiving – drink what you like… even if wine experts don’t suggest it. And I’ll add one more bit of advice – open several different wines and have fun with it. [expand]

That’s what I’ll be doing once again this year. I like lower oak and higher acid wines with food in general, so I’ll stick with that for Thanksgiving as well. I’m going to open wines made with some of my favorite grapes – Riesling, cabernet franc and merlot. And I’m probably going to open some rose as well, just because it can be so darn versatile (and is always a hit with my family). Pinot noir will make an appearance. So will sparkling wine and even some cru Beaujolais (I don’t ONLY drink local wine after all).

But that’s just what I’m drinking. You don’t – and maybe shouldn’t – listen to me either.

Not a fan of Riesling? Don’t drink it. Open gewürztraminer or pinot gris instead. Don’t think much of merlot? Okay, try zinfandel.

Sadly, we don’t have enough space in this column to discuss all of the great beer options available locally. Beer will find its way onto my Thanksgiving table too.

Don’t stress about what you’re drinking next Thursday. Enjoy the meal, the time with your family and friends. Have fun!

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