At my family Thanksgiving dinners, turkey has always taken center stage- although other meats like duck and ham are also common mains. In general, Thanksgiving dinner is at once sweet and savoury with earthy elements. The best part? Similar wines can be easily paired with these meats and the typical Thanksgiving fixings.
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 flavours 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 medium-bodied white or red wines with a slightly earthy note. 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 flavours.
Here are my top picks for the 2016 Thanksgiving weekend:
1 – 2012 Benjamin Bridge Sparkling Rose
This has always been one of my favourite local bubblies. The 2012 vintage was just released this week and could just be the ultimate Thanksgiving wine. Firstly, sparkling wine is kind of essential for any social gathering that involves extensive meal preparations with the family. You can open it up and sip on it pretty early in the day, whether you are peeling vegetables or lounging on the couch. Sparkling wines also have come to symbolize celebration and provide a way to mark special occasions. Though bubbly is often seen as a wine to consume pre-supper; you could easily drink this rose throughout the meal and be very satisfied that you did! Not to mention, the salmon pink colour is oh so chic.
Everyone knows that a medium to full bodied creamy textured, buttery, toasty Chardonnay is the classic pairing for Turkey dinner, but let’s think outside of the box this year. I recently tasted a wine that might fool some into thinking it’s white Burgundy, it was a very unique bottling of Godello, a white grape from Northern Spain. Like Chardonnay, which is a fairly neutral white grape and gains its character from terroir, winemaking and age, Godello can be fairly simple and fresh in style, but can also handle oak treatment. This is a serious Godello; it has a complex nose of ripe stone fruit, toast and caramel. The palate is medium bodied with dried fruit notes and a backbone of fresh acidity that brings balance to the whole. This is a rare treat that will fit in perfectly at the Thanksgiving dinner table.
Bishop’s Cellar has quite the selection of Beaujolais and Cru Beaujolais; perfect to have some fun with bot before and during dinner. Taste and explore the nuances in each wine to discover which Beaujolais you like best.
4 – Meyer Pinot Noir
Any light-bodied red in this style with ripe berry fruit, medium alcohol levels, low tannin and medium-high acids seem to pair well with traditional Thanksgiving fare; Pinot Noir is a classic pairing and will please most everyone at the table.
5 – Wente Zinfandel
For those who are looking for a bit more richness and weight in their red wines, Zinfandel is a good choice as it is full and round without being tannic and drying. The wine’s ripe fruit and soft texture complement creamy veggies and if you serve it with something like a cinnamon-infused sweet potato, apple and marshmallow casserole your taste buds will thank you with every sip and bite.
If finishing off your meal with an apple or pumpkin pie, why not sip on a local apple liqueur like Grand Pre’s Pomme d’Or Cream ? Alternatively, you could even just pour that over vanilla ice cream if you don’t get around to baking the pie. For my own dinner, I plan to end on a lighter note with another sparkling wine, this one a bit more aromatic like the Lightfoot & Wolfville Bubbly White.
Happy Thanksgiving to you all. I hope you have the opportunity to share and celebrate the abundance of the autumn season surrounded by friends, family, food and wine!