SONOMA, California, November 25, 2015 – Thanksgiving is upon us, and along with the wonderful family and friends gathering that it is, it also can create a wee bit of stress with preparing the meal, but also with selecting which wines to pair. Not only is there a gluttony of food with seemingly endless flavors and spices, but there are also each of your guests and their wide range of palates and wine knowledge. That said, some wines are ideal for pairing with Thanksgiving dinner. Pinot Noir is a wonderful Thanksgiving wine because it goes so well with turkey as well as many of the side dishes. It will be best to pour multiple wines throughout the evening to keep both your guests and your palates happy.
Pinot Noir is a safe bet and a crowd-pleaser with its high acidity, low tannins and often cherry, cranberry and sometimes earthy and rich spice flavors. Turkey is a no-brainer for this luscious wine. Believe it or not, Pinot will go very well with cranberries (both the awesomely old-school canned kind that still have the shape of the can, and the more homemade, organic kind). Pinot Noir will be the big hit at dinner for sure. It will pair with most dishes served, from the turkey to mushrooms, ham, pork, lentils, salmon, and even Asian and Mediterranean dishes.
Pinot Noir suggestions:
- Sojourn Cellars 2013 Rodgers Creek Vineyard Pinot Noir, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast
- Emeritus Vineyards 2013 Hallberg Ranch Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
- Fort Ross Vineyard 2012 Stagecoach Road Pinot Noir, West Sonoma Coast
- Martinelli 2009 Zio Tony Ranch “Gracie Nicole” Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
- WALT Wines 2013 Rita’s Crown, Sta. Rita Hills Pinot Noir, Central Coast
This delicious little gem, aside from the turkey itself, can be extremely difficult to pair with the rest of dinner. If you have cheese or a cheese-based appetizer, Chardonnay is a good choice. Another option would be a cream-based soup like Vichyssoise, or get some real butter and lots of cream and mix up some mouth-watering, ultra-whipped mashed potatoes. The right Chardonnay might have your guests drooling from that pairing. Many of the coastal states will serve seafood for Thanksgiving. If this is the case, Chardonnay pairs elegantly with white fish like halibut, mahi-mahi and tilapia. Any dish with a creamy, buttery sauce will be a safe bet.
- Arista 2013 Banfield Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
- Auteur 2013 Durell Vineyard Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast
- Calstar Cellars 2010 Sangiacomo Vineyard Chardonnay, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast
- Miner 2013 Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay, Carneros
- Patz & Hall 2013 Dutton Ranch Vineyard Chardonnay, Russian River Valley
Champagne & Sparkling Wine
It would be difficult to finish a pairing article and not mention sparkling wine. Champagne and sparkling wines are always a hit over the holidays, and the bubbles will help your guests keep their palates clean as they unbutton their top pants button and stuff in another course. Typical pairings include caviar, oysters, cheeses, fish, cream sauces, and both salty and deep fried foods. This can be an excellent starting and finishing wine.
- Iron Horse 2011 Brut X, Green Valley, Russian River Valley
- Keller Estate 2010 Brut-Bubbles, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast
- Mayo Family 2009 Brut Sparkling, Laurel Hill Vineyard, Sonoma Valley
- Paradise Ridge Winery 2012 Blanc de Blanc Sparkling, Russian River Valley
- Patz & Hall Brut Sparkling, North Coast
Let’s not forget about Rosé. Rosé makes for an excellent appetizer wine and is a good choice to serve your guests when they first arrive. A lovely, dry, crisp Rosé will pair very well with a salad dish with a nice soft cheese (such as goat), and any dish with a little fatty meat such as salmon, pork or dark meat turkey.
- Cowan Cellars 2013 Jack’s Rosé, North Coast
- Deerfield Ranch Winery 2014 Checkerbloom Rosé, Sonoma Valley
- Keller Estate 2014 Rosé, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast
- Lasseter Family 2014 Enjoué, Sonoma Valley
- Silver Trident 2014 Apollo’s Folly, Sonoma Coast
Now for the sleeper, the wine you might not expect at Thanksgiving dinner: Syrah. Syrah, with its deep dark fruit profile, often augmented with tobacco, leather and black pepper notes, might not be an obvious choice. But this wine has a secret power. It pairs extremely well with meat and heavy sauces. This is a killer wine with heavier meats such as lamb, sausage, roast beef and stews. Even if you are having a vegetarian Turkey Day, this is still a solid choice. Syrah pairs excellently with Moroccan, Mediterranean and Italian dishes. Anything you serve that has a lot of black pepper and/or a lot of herbs, this is the wine for you.
- Kivelstadt Cellars 2010 Estate Syrah, Sonoma Valley
- Sixteen 600 2012 Dos Limones Syrah, Sonoma Mountain
- Fogline Vineyards 2013 Grist Vineyard Syrah, Dry Creek Valley
- Peay Vineyards 2013 La Bruma Estate Syrah, West Sonoma Coast
- Loxton Cellars 2010 Griffin’s Lair Syrah, Petaluma Gap, Sonoma Coast
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