Wine / Beer for Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is upon us. The extended family is coming for dinner so you start to think what fluids can be served to the masses without breaking the bank. As will be explored in a little more detail Thanksgiving dinner is not a time to serve expensive aged wines. Too much sugar and flavors mingle around the table so keep it young and fruity. We will take a look at some wine and beer varieties to provide some structure for your shopping pleasure.

thanksgiving tablePairing wines and beers with the Thanksgiving meal goes beyond what goes best with turkey. The Thanksgiving table is bursting with flavors: sugary sweet potatoes, garlic fennel mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, stuffing that ranges from just bread to apple sausage corn bread stuffing, rich gravy, and Aunt Susan’s special whatever. All these tastes need to be considered in making your choices.
With all those flavors going on the wine / beer should blend in. Because a turkey is white meat it does not mean white wine is the best alternative. That said many white wines are lovely with the meal.

Let’s leave the cabernet in the closet. You will find it much too big and complex for Thanksgiving dinner.

As people walk in the door, we like to offer sparkling wine. Prosecco or cava is inexpensive and adds a celebratory touch to the day.

Lastly you may wish to have plenty of water from still to sparkling on the table to be sure folks do not over imbibe.

Red Wine

Instead of listing specific wines to buy we will look at varietals.

Pinot Noir – one of my favorite wines on Turkey day.  Please see my blog on Pinot Noir for specific recommendations.

Zinfandel – I am not a fan of white Zin that flies off store shelves and it is not what I am talking about. You will find many lovely Zins that feature some spice, fruit, and zing to go along with the food. Mindful Zins usually pack more alcohol than most red wines, but maybe that might be a good thing with coming.

Beaujolais – young French wine that is vibrant, fruity and made from gamay grapes.

White Bordeau: – 2016 was a great year for this young crisp wines

Italian – Gavi di Gavi –  A white wine on the minerally side

Malbec – find a jammy Malbec

Cotes du Rhone – from the Rhone region of France it is a garnache and syrah based and for me it is a littler version of a Zinfandel. The spice and light fruit make it a nice match at the table. You will find a number of well-priced Cotes du Rhone.

Spanish garnacha – It is generally spicy, berry-flavored and soft on the palate and produces wine with a relatively high alcohol content. Characteristic flavor profiles on Grenache include red fruit flavors (raspberry and strawberry) with a subtle, white pepper spice note.

Syrah, not unlike Zin or Cotes du Rhone has a little spice. You will find a number of wonderful Syrah / California Rhone Rangers at your local store.

Italian dolcetto. – A nice light wine from my homeland. Chianti or other light red from around the world work wonderfully.

White Wine

Any number of white wines will work their charm with the meal. You can serve anywhere from chardonnay to pinot grigio. We really like Alsatian wines and you find a number of great values from this region and the region has had a number of good growing seasons. Riesling is a wonderful alternative.

Chardonnay – you will find a number of chardonnay’s from around the world to fit your needs.  May it be filtered buttery style to unfiltered styles.  Please see my recent post for good stuff cheap.

Riesling – You will find a number of interesting Rieslings from Germany.  They are fruit forward not sweet.  In the US the best deal in my opinion is Erotica which many Costco stores carry for just under $20.   Smith Madrone from California make world class Riesling, but must be ordered from the vineyard.  Really good stuff for under $30.

Alsatian – A separate area of France  – Along with Austria and Germany, it produces some of the most noted dry Rieslings  in the world as well as highly aromatic Gewturztraminer  wines. Wines are produced under three different AOCs: Alsace AOC for white, rosé and red wines. Both dry and sweet white wines are produced.

Austrian – some lovely white wines that we tend to enjoy throughout the summer. It might be because the local spirit shop in Wellfleet carries a full liter of good wine for $10.  You will find these wines dry and on the lighter side.


beerAs many of you know I am not a beer expert. That said my research did not find any Bud, Miller, or similar bulk beers. I did find reference to “fest” beers for the season, Belgian style Ale and others outlined below.

Rye beer (With rye beer’s typical malty sweetness and rich rye color, this creamy, malt-forward beer has a spicy and delightfully bitter citrusy bite that makes a good first course selection with strong cheese and salty snacks (like those on a traditional charcuterie board). It also stands up nicely to the Thanksgiving plate without getting lost amid rich and savory flavors typical of the meal.)

Belgian-style quadruple, an earthy, complex and malt-forward beer. Equally interesting as a dessert pairing with caramel- or molasses-forward desserts like pecan pie or sweet potato casserole, this brew is one to savor from the main course through the end of a meal.

Weizenbock – Strongly smelling of caramelized banana, with a spicy clove flavor that becomes more noticeable as it warms, this imperial weizenbock is almost a dessert in itself. Pouring a rich, dark honey or caramel color, it’s ideally served with banana bread pudding and vanilla ice cream, alongside crème brulee, or as a carbonated counterweight to Bananas Foster with clove- and cinnamon-spiced whipped cream. This beer is a unique and intriguing way to finish a meal.

Russian Imperial Stout – Inspired by brewers back in the 1800’s to win over the Russian Czar, this is the king of stouts, boasting high alcohol by volumes and plenty of malt character. Low to moderate levels of carbonation with huge roasted, chocolate and burnt malt flavours. Often dry. Suggestions of dark fruit and flavors of higher alcohols are quite evident. Hop character can vary from none, to balanced to aggressive

Porter – Inspired from the now wavering English Porter, the American Porter is the ingenuous creation from that. Thankfully with lots of innovation and originality American brewers have taken this style to a new level. Whether it is highly hopping the brew, using smoked malts, or adding coffee or chocolate to complement the burnt flavor associated with this style. Some are even barrel aged in Bourbon or whiskey barrels. The hop bitterness range is quite wide but most are balanced. Many are just easy drinking session porters as well.

By | 2017-11-21T14:55:07-04:00 November 18th, 2015|wine|0 Comments

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