Wine Harmony: Toasting Thanksgiving’s Perfect Pairings
All of a sudden, it’s October! As Thanksgiving approaches, selecting the perfect wines to accompany your holiday meal doesn’t have to trigger anxiety. This month, Wine Journeys explores a range of wines to make sure you can choose the best ones for your feast stress free.
The Dynamic Duo: Pinot Noir & Chardonnay
These wines can exhibit a medium bodied, fruity character that pairs perfectly with your turkey dinner and, quite frankly, are our personal favourites. We usually enjoy a glass of each on the table. Choose wines from a cooler climate area that have the refreshing acidity that will make them a better match for the rich feast. Wines from Ontario (Niagara and Prince Edward County have some excellent ones), Chile, cooler parts of California like the Russian River Valley, Oregon, or from the ancestral home of both grapes, Burgundy will fit the bill.
Many pour Sparkling before the meal with appetizers or serve it as an aperitif. However, don’t limit it to before dinner. Good quality Sparkling makes an excellent wine pairing for main meal as well. It has the acidity, fruit, and the complexity that makes it work with anything from the turkey itself through to rich gravy and squash to the fruity accompaniments like cranberries. Excellent Sparkling is readily available from many regions. Niagara produces a number of impressive ones or you can never go wrong with good Champagne, Crémant, Cava, or Prosecco.
Riesling: Sweet and Savory Delight
For a different pairing experience, Riesling, with its balance of sweetness and acidity, complements the sweet notes of cranberry sauce and the savory elements of stuffing. Niagara has a plenitude of dry and off dry Rieslings that would do the trick, but if you want to look further afield, try one from Germany.
Zinfandel: A Bolder Alternative
Zinfandel’s bold, spicy character and moderate tannins makes it an excellent match for turkey, especially if cooked Southern style in your smoker. In our humble opinion, the best Zins come from the old vines found in Sonoma, especially regions like Dry Creek, Alexander Valley, and Russian River Valley.
So, whether you choose red, white, or sparkling, there’s always a wine to complement your Thanksgiving feast. That being said, remember to raise a glass and toast each other since family and friends are truly the best pairing for any wine. Cheers!
My ratings are based on a 5 star system developed by Michael Broadbent: 5 stars: Outstanding; 4 stars: Very good; 3 stars: Good; 2 stars: Moderately good; 1 star: Not very good, but not bad; No stars: Poor.
Bailly Lapierre Réserve Brut Crémant de Bourgogne NV ★★★★ $24.95 (Vintages)
This attractive Sparkling from Burgundy contains Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, and Aligoté and delivers lemon, apple, toasted hazelnut, pear, and brioche. Aged on the lees for 12 months, it’s quite Champagne like in character with a lingering finish and would suit charcuterie, creamy cheeses, fried appetizers, and, last, but not least, your turkey dinner.
McManis Viognier River Junction 2021 ★★★½+ $20.95 (Vintages)
Nice body in this wine from California made with a grape hailing from the Northern Rhone in France. Stone fruits are predominant here surrounded by lemon and pear. This rich textured white makes a nice substitute for Chardonnay with creamy dishes; try it with lasagna bianco, a traditional white sauced version of this pasta made with Béchamel.
Henry of Pelham Estate Chardonnay 2020 ★★★★ $19.95 (Vintages)
There is certainly no shortage of new oak in this full bodied, creamy Niagara Chardonnay, but the good news is it has more than enough fruit to balance it. Expect pineapple, rich yellow apple, pear, and lemon flavours with plenty of spicy sweet vanilla. Rich seafood or your Thanksgiving turkey dinner would complement this nicely.
Hãhã Hawke’s Bay Rosé 2022 ★★★+ $19.95 (Vintages)
A fruity, dry New Zealand take on Rosé made with Malbec and Merlot showing candied red cherry, watermelon, and a little pepper. Pleasantly quaffable as a pre-dinner aperitif, it’s a wine you could serve it with your appetizer course as well.
Le Clos Jordanne Jordan Village Pinot Noir 2020 ★★★★+ $29.95 (Online, Vintages)
It is so good to see this winery, and Thomas Bachelder (the winemaker), back in the game in Niagara after a 6 year hiatus. The quality suggests a Pinot well above $40 price point, but this one delivers it at under $30. Fashioned with spiced cherry, strawberry, raspberry, red currant and clove studded orange, built on a foundation of forest floor and pine; it’s a wine that is starting to show complexity. The stock is running low at Vintages, but still available to order online directly from the winery. If you’re looking for a red for your Thanksgiving turkey, mushroom polenta, or a medium rare Filet Mignon, it will enhance them all.
Henry of Pelham Estate Gamay 2020 ★★★★ $21.95 (Vintages)
Gamay does not always spring to mind when you think of Niagara wines, but it should. Produced with grapes from their home vineyard in the Short Hills Bench appellation, this medium bodied wine is delightfully berry/cherry fruity with just a hint of pepper. It would shine with gnocchi in tomato basil sauce, margherita pizza, or it’s another red to consider for your turkey dinner.
La Luna e I Falò Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2020 ★★★★ $24.95 (Vintages)
This smooth Barbera is a little bigger than most of its counterparts from the region, while retaining its trademark high acidity. The intense plum, black cherry, rosemary, earth, and chocolate on the nose will draw you in for your first sip. Serve it with grilled Italian sausage, tomato pastas, roasted root vegetables, or veal dishes.
Le Gouleyant Malbec 2020 ★★★★ $17.95 (Vintages)
This wine from France is traditionally known as Cahors after the region, but in this instance they use the New World custom naming it after the grape, Malbec. Cahors wines can be particularly tannic, but here the addition of 15% Merlot softens it making the wine quite approachable. Black berry fruits take the lead supported by vanilla, leather, and pleasant dried herb notes. Brave the cooler weather, BBQ a burger, and then top it with caramelized onions and cheese to enjoy with this red.