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A little Thanksgiving wine advice

Thanksgiving | Terry Moore

A little Thanksgiving wine advice

First, remember that there’s no such thing as an incorrect pairing of wine and food. But on Thanksgiving, a little versatility goes a long way, given the variety of flavors and textures in a traditional spread (so save the Barolo, Bordeaux, Super Tuscans and Napa Cabernets for a holiday dinner in December). Instead, adaptable wines like white and red Burgundy (and their New World compatriots), Riesling, and sparkling wines from just about anywhere will shine at your Thanksgiving table.

They’re not just for toasting in skinny flutes—well-farmed sparkling wines are truly great wine pairings for nearly any cuisine. Maxime Barmès’ gorgeous Crèmant d’Alsace, Danilo Ferraro’s handmade Proseccos, and Jochen Ratzenberger’s electric Riesling Sekt all have just as much utility on your Thanksgiving table as any still wine. So don’t be afraid to keep your sparkling wines in play! For white wines, a touch of fruitiness will go a long way, especially with a traditional turkey. 

White Burgundies from the Mâconnais, like Gilles Corsin’s fresh and lively Saint-Vèran Tirage Précoce or Aurillian Palthay’s opulent Viré-Clessé, are great options, as are the similarly mineral-driven Chardonnays from the Santa Barbara Coast, like Adam Tolmach’s compelling Chardonnay from the Bien Nacido vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley. Travel just south of Burgundy in select high-elevation parcels throughout the Rhône valley, and you’ll find the ancestral home of Viognier, a worthy alternative to Chardonnay, and when farmed well, one of the most versatile white wines for any type of cooking. Camille Wallut’s stunningly beautiful Viognier La Borry combines exotic fruit texture with crunchy limestone minerality into one of the most laser-precise examples of the grape variety to be found anywhere in the south of France. Or try Laura Rizzotto’s bright and juicy Soave Classico or the rare Nascetta from Anna Maria Abbonna for two terrific Italian options.

***WE INTERRUPT THIS ARTICLE FOR A BRIEF PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT ABOUT RIESLING. WHETHER BONE DRY, OFF DRY, OR RIVETINGLY SWEET, RIESLING COULD BE THE MOST PERFECT WHITE WINE FOR THANKSGIVING (great examples include those from Klaus-Peter Keller, Anna Reimann, Katarina von Canal, Jochen Ratzenberger, and Maxime Barmès). SERIOUSLY, DRINK GREAT RIESLING THIS THANKSGIVING. Thank you. 

When it comes to red wines, those with freshness, easy tannins, and succulent fruit are the way to go. The likes of poultry, reduction sauces (ahem, gravy) and mashed potatoes are just as common in Burgundian cuisine as they are on an American dining table on the fourth Thursday in November, so it makes sense that red Burgundies, especially those from Beaujolais, make perfect pairings for Thanksgiving. Ultra high-quality Beaujolais from a small winegrower has nothing to do with the mass-produced junk from Georges DuBoeuf, and instead can be one of the most quaffable and adaptable red wines to be enjoyed accompanying any type of cuisine. Patrick Brunet’s Morgon and Fleurie are terrific examples of cru Beaujolais from renowned villages in the northern half of the region, while the Beaujolais-Villages from Domaine Vavril is a great value if you need to hose down a crowd. Further north in Burgundy, Pinot Noir reigns supreme for red wine, and there are a host of fantastic options from the Côte Chalonnaise up through the Côte de Nuits. Of course, Pinot Noir from the west coast would be an excellent all-American alternative. Mark Wentworth’s beautiful Anderson Valley estate Pinot Noir combines Old World elegance with sunny California fruit purity. Up the coast in Willamette, Oregon, Anne Sery-Martindale’s Trousse-Chemise label produces what could be the best value in Oregon Pinot Noir, with both a juicy estate wine and a richly-textured single-vineyard wine from the historic Shea vineyard to her credit. 

But wait, there are quite a few compelling options in Italy, too, including Barbera, Dolcetto and Grignolino from winegrowers in Piemonte (like Sergio Germano, Elio Grasso and Gianni Doglia), as well as beautiful Valpolicella from our friend Alessandro Castellani. And the way up in the Italian Alps, you’ll find Andreas Widmann’s Vernatsch, one of the most elegant red wines to be found anywhere in Italy.

So don't sweat your Thanksgiving wines. Just make sure, like your chickens, you get them from a good farm—there are just over 100 small family farms to purchase from here at Moore Brothers. Happy Thanksgiving!

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