At my family thanksgiving dinner, turkey has always taken center stage, though other meats like duck and ham are also common mains. Similar wines can be easily paired with these meats and the typical thanksgiving fixings. In general, thanksgiving dinner is at once sweet and savory with earthy elements. When it comes picking out that perfect wine for dinner, I look for wines with good aromatics (to match the intense aromas coming from the kitchen), and lots of ripe fruit flavors (that pair so well with the sweet root vegetables, cranberry sauce and honey glazed ham). If mushrooms are on the menu, you can’t go wrong with red or white Burgundy, Semillon based wines or a new world Chardonnay or Pinot Noir. If the cook is using lots of herbs and spices, you may want to look at a new world Shiraz or a French blend from the Rhone Valley that echo these aromas and flavors.
If you’re planning on picking up a local bird, fresh vegetables from the Annapolis Valley and ending with homemade apple pie, then it makes sense to pair your locally grown food with a local wine. We are fortunate to have a vibrant wine industry in Nova Scotia and so many local wines work amazingly well with the sweet ripe fall flavours that appear on the Thanksgiving table.
My local wine picks for Thanksgiving dinner:
1. Nova 7, Benjamin Bridge
I’ve been told that Bishop’s Cellar is the only place you can now get this wine. If you are planning on serving this pre dinner, with dinner or with dessert (it goes with just about everything!) – come and get it now. I have a feeling we will be out by the weekend!
2. 2010 Gaspereau Vineyards Estate Riesling
A difficult grape to grow in Nova Scotia, but with the right care, makes an incredible wine with great aromatics of apple, pear and lemon. Vibrant acidity and a touch off-dry. This is an ideal pre-dinner sipper, but is a refreshing pairing with turkey and is my grape of choice for ham.
3. Domaine de Grand Pre L’Acadie Reserve
A great example of one of Nova Scotia’s signature white grapes. This particular version has 6 months of barrel ageing for added richness and complexity. Don’t worry – it’s not an oak bomb! It shows nice balance of fruit with notes of buttered toast. Delicious with a fruit stuffed turkey and sweet potatoes on the side.
4. Blomidon Rose
A blend of L’Acadie Blanc and aromatic New York Muscat coloured with red Baco Noir. It is fruity and slightly off-dry, making it a versatile wine that can be easily enjoyed with turkey dinner and holiday ham!
5. L’Acadie Vineyards Nouveau
A lighter style red, similar to Beaujolais, that exudes bright berry fruit and minimal tannin making it a refreshing red option for turkey and ham. Serve slightly chilled.
There are so many options of local dessert wines – late harvest wines, icewines, maple, framboise and apple based wines. If you plan on serving apple pie, Grand Pre’s Pomme d’Or is the perfect pick. If you prefer pumpkin pie, I would go for a late harvest wine or ice wine from one of the many great local producers.
Wine Picks from Around the World
Collalto Prosecco, Veneto, Italy – A classic Italian sparkling wine with apple, pear and almond flavors. The cook can sip on this while preparing the meal and the guests can enjoy it while they nibble on appetizers before dinner. This can easily be served for the entire dinner.
Fresh and zesty aromatic white
Gustave Lorentz Riesling, Alsace, France – Aromas of fruit and baking spices compliment the same aromas of the meal, while the wine’s refreshing mouthfeel contrasts nicely to the food’s richness.
Rich and creamy white
L’Ecole 41 Semillon, Walla, Walla, Washington State, USA – You could go with any full bodied white that has undergone some oak aging or lees contact. Chardonnay is the most common option, but why not be different and try a viscous white from this iconic Semillon producer. Creamy and rich with aromas and flavors of melon, lemon curd and nuts. If you want to play up the richness of the meal, this is the wine for you!
Medium bodied, juicy and fruit forward red
Dupeuble Beaujolais, France – This is a juicy, bright and balanced old world red that is a classic pairing for turkey dinner and baked ham. It is also organic!
Full, ripe, round and spicy red
Seghesio Rockpile Zinfandel, Sonoma, California, USA
This 90 pt Wine Spectator wine is sure to wow your crowd if they love big reds. Lots of fruit and white pepper, with bright cherry aromas and berry flavors. It is big, though not overly tannic, so it will pair well with white meats, ham and all sweet and fruit filled fixings.