I can’t believe Thanksgiving is around the corner. The time has come to start placing orders for Heritage birds and testing favorite recipes for all of the accompaniments. In addition to that, it’s time get beverage line-ups in the works. If this all sounds too stressful to handle – have no fear. I’m here to help.
When it comes to pairing food and beverages, what you’re looking for is a best friend-style relationship. Think about your best friend for a second. What is it about the two of you that makes you magical? If it’s anything like my best friend and me, there are parts of us that are wildly different -- but yet, we can finish each other’s sentences and make each other laugh until we’re blue in the face. Well, like the key components of friendship, food and wine also need a sincere sense of comparisons and contrasts in order to create a harmonious balance. If every item on your table is too one-sided, there is risk of boredom and exhaustion. On the flip side, if there is too much difference, you’ll risk sitting next to Crazy Aunt Sue questioning what the hell happened. Case in point: balance is key.
Now, I don’t know about you, but I think turkey is incredibly boring, dry and overrated. Not only is it boring, it’s also cumbersome, intimidating, and it requires you give up all rights to your kitchen sink/bathtub/first floor of your house in order to let it soak in a brine for a 24 to 48 hour period. To put it lightly, turkey needs an overwhelming amount of assistance just about every aspect – and this is important to consider when you’re pairing wine with it. For Thanksgiving, I always feel that it is best to choose wines that aren’t overly alcoholic, tannic or too high in acidity. Give your palate a break. Remember, that little bit of contrast is a good thing.
Here are my favorite wines to be enjoyed this holiday:
- Meursault: To simplify a discussion about Meursault as best as I know how, this is an Appellation d'origine contrôlée (AOC) in the Côte de Beaune sub-region of the Burgundy wine region in France. Without question, this village in Burgundy produces some of the most unbelievable and sought-after Chardonnay in the world. As far as the flavor profile is concerned, you’ll taste hints of very refined French oak, creamy vanilla, nuts and oatmeal, which will meld beautifully with just about everything on your Thanksgiving table. Meursault does run at a higher price point, but for the holiday season, don’t pass this up.
- Pinot Bianco: Also known as Pinot Blanc, Pinot Bianco is widely grown in Friuli-Venezia Giulia and Trentino-Alto Adige in Italy. This grape is amazingly versatile, and is ever so slightly less full bodied than Chardonnay (which it is often blended with). Pinot Bianco offers notes of green apple, mineral and white flower along with some citrus notes and crisp, clean acidity. Pair this with a bit of butternut squash and sage, you will be a happy camper.
- Beaujolais: Many of you may have attended a Beaujolais Nouveau party at the end of November to celebrate the annual harvest of the Gamay grape. While all wines in this region are, indeed, made of Gamay, the biggest difference between Beaujolais and Beaujolais Nouveau is the fact that one is aged and one is still in its infancy. In this case, age is a beautiful thing. Very much like the Pinot Noir grown in neighboring Burgundy, aged Gamay from the Beaujolais region offers its drinkers a light-bodied, fruit forward profile that is silky, straightforward, and turkey-friendly.
I certainly hope that you will give some of these wines a try, as they are all incredibly tasty.
Remember, though, that there is absolutely no need to over-complicate things just because it's Thanksgiving. If the thought of roasting a turkey makes your hair stand on end, call your local butcher/grocery store and have them do the dirty work for you. Our chefs will bake your holiday pies for dessert right here at The Chopping Block. Our staff is also happy to introduce you to fun, approachable, Thanksgiving-friendly wines that work within your budget. Stop in our stores to stock up for the holiday meal!