I’ve defrosted, brined and prepped the turkey, chopped and diced my mise en place of vegetables
for the stuffing, carefully picked through bags of cranberries and scrubbed and peeled dozens of
potatoes. What else is there to do? Do I have wine for the annual feast of gluttony commonly
known as Thanksgiving? No! What do I do?
Never fear, the Gochiso Gourmet is here. And this year he carries the added credential of being a
Certified Sommelier from the Court of Master Sommeliers. Do I allay your wine fears? Even if
your answer is no, read on…
What Beverage to Start With?
You don’t have to start dinner with $100 champagne though if you do, you know how to
contact me to invite me to your next shindig. If you want a festive bubbly wine that doesn’t
break the IRA or 401k plan, look no further than Prosecco (Italy) or Cava (Spain) for bubbly
that’s less than $20 per bottle. Though they’re not made from the same grapes as “real”
champagne from France, they cost a lot less and still have a lot of citrus flavors and balanced
acidity that is great on its own or pairs with most fried or white meat appetizers. You may need
to browse your neighborhood wine shop for Prosecco though Cava such as Cordoniu, Freixenet
and Segura Viudas are probably available at your neighborhood supermarket.
If you prefer a non bubbly wine, then my next suggestion would be Pinot Grigio or Pinot Gris.
In California and Italy, it usual goes by Pinot Grigio, in Oregon and
Washington it usually goes by Pinot Gris though they’re the same
grape. In the old world and California, they’re usually lighter, lemony
wines that are pleasant enough on their own or better with seafood and
lighter meats with light sauces. The Washington and Oregon varieties
are a little richer and pair nicely with poultry liver mousses and lighter
pork dishes. Look for Luna (CA), Zenato (Italy), Erath (OR) or
Columbia (WA) and once again, most of these selections are available at your local supermarket
and cost less than $15.
If you need a little more color at your party, how about a nice bottle of Rose? Other than
White Zinfandel which is sweet, most other Roses are fermented dry. And it doesn’t really
matter if they come from Pinot Noir, Tempranillo, Grenache or even Cabernet Sauvignon. Most
Roses have fresh watermelon and strawberry flavors that complement most foods whether its
seafood, poultry or light meats and they also pair with various ethnic cuisines whether it’s Thai,
Chinese, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean. Therefore Roses can pair with your appetizers and
continue straight through your entrée courses. An added bonus is that since most Roses are
made as a by product of that winery’s red wine, they are usually priced in the $10 to $15 range.
The Main Course
I assume that your piece de resistance will either be a turkey, a ham or both. Therefore with the
white and pink meats, you can either choose a richer white wine, a subtle red wine or both. My
choice for the turkey would either be a Chardonnay if you prefer whites or a Beaujolais Nouveau
if you rather sip reds. Both wines have good acidity to cleanse your palate between bites and
both pair with a wide variety of courses. You also don’t need a king’s ransom to purchase these
wines. There are good Chardonnays at your local supermarket that can be purchased for less than
$20. Look for Hess, Kendall Jackson Grand Reserve, Matanzas Creek or Au Bon Climat just to
name a few.
If you rather have a fun, grapey red wine that is like sipping liquid cranberry sauce then visit
your local wine retailer sometime after November 15th because Beaujolais Nouveau is always
released on the 3rd Thursday in November. Georges Duboeuf is probably the most widely
distributed Beaujolais Nouveau – if you don’t mind spending an extra $2, I would get the
Beaujolais-Village Nouveau. It’s not a serious wine – even the French don’t take the annual
fanfare seriously but I still enjoy it with Thanksgiving grub.
If ham is your protein of choice then my recommendation would be a Pinot Noir, Syrah or
Zinfandel. Since most hams are spiced with cloves and syrupy glazes, I
would look for a Pinot Noir from New Zealand or Central California
since they often have a lot of Asian spice flavors that perfectly
complement ham. Labels to look for would be La Crema Sonoma
Coast, Leticia and Acacia from California and Murdoch James, Oyster
Bay and Sherwood from New Zealand.
Syrah and Zinfandel also complement ham - not with spicy flavors but with smoky, black pepper
flavors that are also found in ham. The most cost effective options for Syrah are Red Car Boxcar,
Andrew Murray and Cep from California or Marquis Philips, Leeuwin Siblings and Hewitson from
Australia. If Zinfandel is your wine of choice then look no further than California for
Roshambo, Ravenswood or Rabbit Ridge
Stickies after Dinner
Now that you’ve stuffed yourself to the brim with turkey, potatoes, stuffing, cranberry sauce
and various other waist stretching delights, what’s for dessert? Can’t eat another morsel you say?
How about liquid dessert? Or in wine speak how about some stickies? Stickies? If you’ve ever
spilled a little sweet dessert wine on yourself, you’ll know why they go by the nomen stickies.
The most famous of the dessert wines are those luscious Sauternes wines from France. And no,
you don’t have to spend Junior’s college tuition for Chateau d’Yquem. You can get real
Sauternes for less than $25 (though it won’t be Chateau d’Yquem). Just look for the half bottle
of white wine in the dessert wine section then look for “Sauternes” on the label. And yes, you
only need a half bottle because a little goes a long way. These wines are like sipping liquid
apricot, melon, peach, white flowers, honey all in a single glass.
If this sounds too sweet for your liking, then look for Moscato or Brachetto. Not as sweet as
Sauternes with less apricot flavor but loads of melon, peach and litchi flavors with only about 5%
Get the Wine at the Same Time
Most of the wines mentioned are available at your local national supermarket and most of the
labels mentioned are less than $20. So while you’re shopping for the bulk of your Thanksgiving
fixins, stop by the wine aisle to pickup several bottles of vino to enjoy with your feast. Save time
and save money during the same errand. A voitre sante!
So Much Turkey and Stuffing and not a Drop to Drink