Every year I see dozens of people crowding the wine aisle the day before Thanksgiving, peering at the seemingly endless options available. The holidays are a special time, but there is a lot of added pressure to appease the masses, take care of each individual’s tastes, and generally create a great experience – all together, it can be a host or hostesses nightmare!
Many of you don’t know, but I started my career in event planning at a winery in California! Early on I learned a lot, more than I ever wanted to know about wine, winemaking, and how to pair wine to food. Hopefully today I can share some nuggets of knowledge with you that will help with your holiday food and wine pairing.
This is one of my favorite food and wine pairing graphics – it covers many of the different menu options for the holidays. Feel free to save it and print it out for your use! I will highlight a few of my favorite pairings:
Turkey: Ah, a Thanksgiving classic. What is Thanksgiving without a turkey?! This classic dish pairs well with rich white wines (Chardonnay, Viognier) light red wines (Pinot Noir) and some medium reds (Zinfandel). What wines you pick ultimately can also depend on what the bird is prepared and served with – think sauces and spices here. Heavier, bolder flavors need a more full bodied wine where as lighter options pair best with lighter bodied wines.
Ham: The other meat you might find on a Thanksgiving table, although less famous than its turkey counterpart. The sweet and salty flavor of holiday ham does best with fruit-forward wines with a touch of sweetness like Riesling, Rose, and Pinot Noir.
Candied Yams: It is all about balance here with the candied yams (especially if they have marshmallows on top) – this is not the place for a sweet wine! Viognier would be a good choice to help cut some of the sweetness, and bring out the spices.
Roasted Vegetables: The manner in which roasted veggies are prepared can make them great candidates to stand up to bolder, rich reds like Merlot and Zinfandel wines, as well as oaky Chardonnay.
Pumpkin Pie: Although not my favorite Thanksgiving pie, this can be found on most holiday tables and deserves recognition! Pumpkin pie pairs well with Riesling, which will help to bring out some of the many spices used in creating this holiday favorite.
Some other thoughts on holiday wine pairing, and wine service:
Red wines should NOT be put in a standard refrigerator – if you are #fancyaf and have a wine fridge, here are the best temperatures at which to serve red vs white wines:
Red: 60 – 70 degrees
White: 49 – 55 degrees
Don’t forget to add sparkling wine to your cart! This increasingly popular wine type is generally a crowd pleaser, goes great with pre-dinner apps and dessert, and is an awesome way to greet guests as they come into your home.
Happy Thanksgiving all!