No, not to quaff in some damn drinking game. To drink with heavier, savory dishes – game or turkey – that are waiting to leap down your pie-hole this holiday season. The Thanksgiving kick-off is all about food, and that means wine. Beer takes up too much real estate when trying to eat everything within reach, and liquor at the dinner table is just… well, mind your P’s & Q’s if you are opposite your grandmother.
While very American, Thanksgiving is also very regional, so as a Southerner, I’m assuming here that you or someone in your immediate clan is manning a grill. The traditional turkey is a white meat, but with those big flavors, let’s not stand on the white wine rule. If that is your bag, though, try a Riesling – lemony, minerally, bone-dry and very food-friendly. You can get them marked “dry”, but avoid the sweet ones for now, they can get very sweet. If you are a Chardonnay sort, up you game with a white Beaujolais.
Or a red Beaujolais, for that matter. A little jammy and sweet for me, with a gigantic smoked bird it really stands up to the big, rich flavors well to create a balance that is not levels off some of the fruitiness. If you lean more to the dry side in your reds, try a Côtes du Rhone – which is a style from the south of France that is generally Syrah and Grenache. This is going to be earthy, but not heavy, stands well with food and has the added advantage, along with some Argentine and Chilean Malbecs, of being fairly underpriced at the moment.
And on that note… if you are stocking the bar, there is a way to make “value” wines seem “more”: Decant reds in a good broad-bottomed ship’s decanter that gives the wine time to breath. This isn’t just idiotic winespeak and really makes a difference. Understand what you are doing, though. The point is to aerate the wine, so don’t pour it carefully like it’s a beer: Uncork and pour it completely upside down into the decanter. Slap it around a bit, it’ll breath faster. And remember that the “room temperature” rule was made when that was about 620, not 740. It makes a difference. So, put your reds in the fridge for about 20 or 30 minutes before serving. It won’t be anything we’d called chilled, but it will be at the right temperature, tamp down on the alcohol taste and bring the fruit forward.
That and hold off on the politics – dear God we’ve had enough of that.