Thanksgiving wine pairing ideas from Asheville experts

BETTER WITH WINE: Four local wine experts offer suggestions for the perfect Thanksgiving Day pairings. Xpress file photo

It’s 15 minutes into Thanksgiving dinner, and beyond the yams and mashed potatoes, Uncle Jimmy is offering up his own special brand of stuffing in the form of his thoughts on the War on Drugs. You excuse yourself from the table to retrieve a little more wine, only to discover a dire situation: You are down to the last bottle, and it’s only 4 p.m.

With 12 people at the table, that one lonely bottle would be spread mighty thin — the makings of a holiday nightmare of epic proportions. Fortunately, with proper preparation, that’s one Thanksgiving calamity that can be easily avoided. Some of Asheville’s best palates have agreed to provide some suggestions for helping you stock your cellar with all the right selections to pair with your Thanksgiving feast.

The typical Thanksgiving spread is a difficult meal to pair. With savory turkey and sweet cranberry sauce, it can be a delicate balance to find something light enough to hold up to the subtle flavor of the fowl but ripe enough to keep up with the sweet sauces and stuffings.

Larry Weaver of the Asheville Wine Market suggests a Roussette de Savoie for the white-wine drinkers. “Savoie is really something that hasn’t been on the radar in this country for a long time,” says Weaver. “There are a couple of wine varietals on the white end of things that are pretty cool. Jaquere is one of them, and Rousette is the other.

“It’s a perfect holiday wine,” he continues, “because it has a beautiful mix of acidity and ripeness and roundness. Like some of the wines of the Alsace, it just floats in and out of the holiday table like magic.” With mineral underpinnings and a kiss of fruit, this wine dances nicely among the flavors that usually grace the holiday table.

If red wine is more your bag, Weaver suggests a Côtes de Toul pinot noir from the Touraine wine region of France. “It’s like those from the Alsace — finely delineated with some flavors that could possibly allude to Burgundy but it’s really kind of its own thing,” he explains. Both wines slide in nicely just at or under the $20 mark.

If you’re looking for something a little more traditional, try the selection of Beaujolais nouveaux at Weinhaus. Celebrated as the typical first release of the season after harvest, the young wine has a long history at the holiday table.

“Vivacious, fruity red wine is a favorite of both wine aficionados and style setters,” says owner Hunt Mallet. “Versatile with many popular dishes, Beaujolais nouveau is the ideal accompaniment for holiday entertaining.”

Over at Metro Wines, Charlie Stanley steers us towards the Lavau Gigondas. “It’s a top 100 wine of the year for $28 — super affordable,” he points out. Gigondas is on the South side of the Rhone and is an excellent granache-syrah blend. It herbaceous and earthy and goes really well with roasted meats and vegetables.”

He also suggests the Pierre Sparr pinot blanc from the Alsace area — a popular region for Thanksgiving wines. “This guy is just $16, and it’s a great food-pairing wine. It makes a great little apéritif, especially if you’ve got a little bit of charcuterie on the front end of your meal.”

For something a little more full and New World on the white side of things, the Omero pinot gris is a sustainably and biodynamically produced wine with rich fruits and bright acidity for under $30.

Should you be wine shopping on the south side of town, Table Wine’s Josh Spurling will steer you towards a nice bottle of bubbles — J. Laurens Cremant de Limoux Les Graimenous. “This is one of the best bubbly values I tasted all year,” says Spurling. “From the birthplace of sparkling wine, this blend of chardonnay, chenin and mauzac tastes like real-deal Champagne but costs a fraction of the price. There’s a richness and complexity to this wine rarely found outside of the Champagne region.” And all of that costs a mere $20.

As for reds, Spurling recommends the 2014 Clos de la Roilette Fleurie for $21.99. “Fleurie might be my favorite pick for a Thanksgiving red, and Clos de la Roilette makes one of the best,” he says. “This is a Cru Beaujolais-Village, and this producer produces one of the prettiest, most-nuanced, feminine wines every year. Spice and earth-infused red fruits inform the nose and palate of this medium-bodied, fresh red wine.”

Note: Jonathan Ammons works in bar and restaurant sales for Robert Walter Selections, a local wine importer. 

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About Jonathan Ammons
Native Asheville writer, eater, drinker, bartender and musician. Proprietor of www.dirty-spoon.com Follow me @jonathanammons

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