Reflections on Selecting the Perfect Thanksgiving Wine
Thanksgiving brings families and friends together over a hearty feast – and wine often plays a role in these gatherings. But with a spread of turkey, ham, vegetables, casseroles and more, how do you pick wines to suit the occasion?
In past writings, I’ve explored two approaches to Thanksgiving wine selections: the sommelier’s view and my personal view. The traditional sommelier’s approach considers complementing flavors through careful pairings. Crisp, acidic whites and light reds like Pinot Noir to balance rich dishes. Sweet wines to offset saltiness. And tannic reds to cut through fat and protein. With the right wine, one bottle can theoretically pair with the entire meal.
While technical pairings create lovely combinations, I’ve also come to see wines as more than just flavor matches. Certain bottles bring up memories of past holidays and loved ones no longer with us. So, as an alternate approach, I suggest selecting wines that are special to you. Pop that Rioja your Spanish uncle always poured. Open the bubbles you shared with friends over past feasts. Here, the goal is something deeper – it is a case for nostalgia over that of perfect pairings.
This year, I’m combining both philosophies. Have a classic sparkling, white and red ready for versatility. But also include meaningful bottles for conversation starters. Share stories of past gatherings tied to each wine. The perfect Thanksgiving wine is one savored with gratitude among loved ones.
As an example, we’ll have our new Sparkling Rosé to kick off the celebrations, not because it is the perfect pairing (although it often is!), but for the festivity it elicits when the cork is popped. And we’ll have our Cabernet Franc, which reminds us of Livermore Valley’s historic wine traditions. These and other wines connected to memories will be shared around our Thanksgiving table this year.
The truth is, no wine will perfectly complement the array of dishes served. The perfect Thanksgiving wine is ultimately the one raised with loved ones during this special time of year.