Gobble Gobble, its November. What will be on your Thanksgiving table this year? Chances are, a bottle of wine will be right next to the turkey and mashed potatoes. So the next question is what kind of wine? When pairing one of the biggest feasts of the year, it's best to think in broad strokes and generalizations. Trying to find the right wine to pick up the sage in the stuffing and the nuts in the cranberry mold might send you over the edge. Think of the meal as a whole in terms of intensity, (heavily spiced?), style (Mediterranean or all-American?) and weight.
Wine, like food, can be categorized by weight. When tasting wine, a major consideration is how heavy is feels in your mouth. Is it light, medium, or full-bodied like skim milk, whole milk, or cream? Heavy foods pair best with full-bodied wines and lighter fare shines with a light style. Body can be determined by the grape itself, for example Pinot Noir is lighter than Cabernet Sauvignon, and by growing regions.
Generally speaking, grapes that get the most sun produce the fullest wines. Sun creates sugar, sugar turns into alcohol during fermentation, and alcohol content determines weight. The higher the alcohol content, the heavier the wine. So, to determine a wine's weight, consider the region's proximity to the equator, and check the alcohol content on the label. Wines that are 9-11 percent are light-bodied, those between 11-13 percent are in the medium range, while full-bodied wines are over 13 percent and sometimes as high as 15.
So, if you're having cumin-rubbed roast turkey, chipotle mashed potatoes and a brined pork roast, and then perhaps all you need is a good, meaty Zinfandel, typically in the 14 percent range. On the other hand, if you're serving turkey medallions poached in a tarragon reduction with sautéed green beans, shitakes and tofu, then stick to something light. Realistically, however, most menus fall somewhere in the middle, requiring wines with a little flexibility. Here are a few wines types and examples that can stretch a bit to fit any table.
Dry Rose: Cantina Bolzano Lagrein Rosato from Northern Italy
Champagne: Pol Roger Brut NV
Finger Lake Riesling: Salmon Run Riesling
California Sauvignon Blanc: Joel Gott
New Zealand Pinot Noir: Oyster Bay Pinot Noir
Long Island Merlot: Shinn Estates
No matter what Thanksgiving menu you chose, it is a pretty safe bet that mashed potatoes will make the cut. And well they should, a good dollop of mashed potatoes makes everything taste better. Wine included. Check the recipe section for a fail-proof version. Happy Holidays.