The Thanksgiving Day meal is a full celebration. For many families it is an all day affair, filled with fun, visiting, watching football and, of course, food.Choosing a wine for Thanksgiving dinner is never easy with so many flavors and styles of food. However, even with the large variety of wines available, it is still possible to provide your guests with great choices to complement the meal. Dinner is the highlight of the day, but to make it even more of an event, think about enhancing a pre-dinner and after-dinner experience.
Appetizers or hors d'oeuvres served while dinner is being prepared is a welcome sight for visitors. While you are enjoying theses early treats consider an aperitif drink that will help stimulate the appetite. A nice glass of bubbly, whether a sparkling wine, champagne or prosecco, will add to the festive mood of your day. A dry or brut style will better activate saliva glands and excite your mouth for food. You can also try one of several imported liqueur aperitifs like Lillet or Campari.
A good choice for the main meal is a lighter red. Many people enjoy Beaujolais Nouveau or Pinot Noir with their turkey. These light red wines are flavorful, yet not too bold as to overpower the food.
Beaujolais Nouveau is a fresh, fruity, easy drinking French wine that is released on the third Thursday of November. The term Nouveau translates as “new” in English. The name derives from being the first French wine released from the new harvest each year. Made from the Gammay grape, this wine is best consumed within six months of release. Watch for the 2009 to pop up on wine shop shelves right before Thanksgiving.
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If you prefer a white wine with dinner try a Riesling, Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer. These have a touch of sweetness and a good one will follow up with some nice acidity to help cleanse the palate for the next bite of food. If that touch of sweetness does not appeal to you, try an un-oaked Chardonnay or Fume Blanc. A California Chardonnay may or may not be oaky, so if you do not know the brand you are buying, check the label for hints on its style. A French Burgundy Chardonnay from the area called Macon is crisp, without any overpowering oak flavors and is a good choice for the table.
Dessert can be as festive as the meal, even if it has to wait until Uncle Charlie gets his nap in the big recliner. Traditional pumpkin and apple pies can be paired with a beverage. If you are serving apple pie, try a sweet German Auslese Riesling wine to sip on. Pumpkin or sweet potato pie can be enhanced with a Vin Santo from Italy, an Orange Muscat from California, or a Tokaji from Hungary.
Pies made of dark fruit do well with ruby or late harvest port, to match up those sweet berry flavors. For a dessert that features nuts like pecans or almonds, try a tawny port or a nut liqueur.
On Nov. 26, most of us will be enjoying family and friends and counting our blessings, despite the tough economy. Pamper yourself and your family by celebrating with an array of flavors throughout the day.
Jeffrey Cushing has been in the wine and alcohol beverage business for more than 15 years.