Garrison Keillor once said, “Thanksgiving is the closest Americans will ever come to understanding the Middle East conflict.” And while most of our dinner tables might not get quite that explosive, it is always wise to keep some wine on hand as a welcomed social lubricant.
But pairing wines on Thanksgiving can be tricky. For starters, a turkey has both light and dark meat. There’s also usually a sweet cranberry sauce and a savory stuffing along with a veritable smorgasbord of sides, rendering the heaviness of a rich cabernet too much, and snuffing out any flavor from a light white. To address the conundrum, Xpress went to several local shops to seek out their suggestions for the best holiday pours for you and your family.
Josh Spurling of Table Wine suggests a 2012 Georges Descombes Morgon Vieilles, Cru Beujolais. “It’s 100 percent Gamay from vineyards planted back in the 1950s in one of the best spots in all of Beaujolais.” He says, “It’s big and assertively flavored, but silky at the same time. With earthy and exotic spice notes along with gorgeously ripe red fruit, it pairs well with the entire meal.” If the $40 price tag makes you balk, or if your just worried that Uncle Chaz might drink it all before you even get a splash, Spurling has plenty of fantastic Beaujolais for around the $15 mark as well.
At Appalachian Vintner, Charles Alexander recommends Gini Soave, a Trebbiano from Italy for $19. “It’s full-bodied, it’s creamy, there’s virtually no oak on the palate at all,” he says. “It drinks like chardonnay, but it doesn’t have those New World nuances.”
He also suggests Lumos, a pinot noir from Oregon. “It’s a completely natural wine. They use all native yeasts; it is a biodynamic winery, so it is the purest form of organics that you can get.” And at $25, it certainly doesn’t break the bank.
“For Thanksgiving wine, one of my favorites for pairing with turkey is actually a nice dry rosé,” says Hunt Mallet of Weinhaus. He suggests the Valle Reale Montepulciano for a mere $10. Another option he suggests is a Beaujolais nouveau. “It’s a traditional Thanksgiving wine from France,” he says. He steers us towards a Joseph Drouhin at $14. “These grapes were on the vine some six to eight weeks ago. It’s traditionally one of the newest wines of each vintage. It’s simple and it goes great with cranberry sauce.”
Asheville Wine Market’s new proprietor Larry Weaver has a suggestion or two of his own. “This year at home we’ll be preparing a pretty traditional Thanksgiving meal, so I’ll be sticking with fairly traditional choices with the wine parings,” he says. “This year, however, it will be a wonderful pinot noir from the Alsace produced by Charles Baur. It’s a really elegant expression of cherries and red fruit and has a great balance of fruit and acidity. We’re back to Charles Bauer again for this year’s white. His pinot blanc will make a great aperitif, but the ripe and zesty palate will also do very well with the multitude of flavors found on the Thanksgiving table.” And pricing out at $20 for the pinot noir and a mere $16 for the pinot blanc, it’s hard to turn those down.
Over on Charlotte Street, Gina Trippi and Andy Hale of Metro Wine also have a couple of suggestions. Trippi directs us to a Cotes du Rhone Blanc from Lavau checking in right around $10. “I think it goes with the herbs that are going to show up,” she says. “Some of those herbs like rosemary can be so strident and can clash with a red, so I like the white wine.”
For those who prefer more full bodied wines, Hale suggests Pentimento, a French Bordeaux priced at around $26. “This is Michelle D’Aprix’s wine. She is the only American woman wine maker in Bordeaux,” says Hale. “It works with turkey and stuffing. Its mostly merlot with a little bit of cab franc, so it’s really more of a modern style of Bordeaux. There isn’t tons and tons of heavy smoke and pipe tobacco and leather, so it will totally go with your Thanksgiving dinner.”