Thanksgiving wine and food pairing is a hot mess. You have so much going on with the meal that it's hard to pick just one wine to go with it all...believe me, I've tested the theory :) You have turkey, which is dry and packed with Tryptophan. You have mashed potatoes (starch), corn, rolls, sweet potatoes, cranberry and various other dishes, and none of them go together. Cranberry is tart. Gravy is not. Trying to match sweet, sour, bitter, salt with Thanksgiving is like trying to drive a shopping cart with a broken wheel through a demolition derby. What do you do? I usually like to plan the progression of the day something like this:
Guests Arriving - Broadbent Vinho Verde
Thanksgiving is a marathon, not a sprint. Don't get too tipsy early in the day, unless you're a seasoned drinker. Sometimes we'll open a Brut Rosé Champagne, but in order to keep your edge (and not get too silly too soon) open a low alcohol Vinho Verde. It's got some effervescence yet it's light, crisp and fresh. Depending on what kind of snackiness you're enjoying, Vinho Verde tends to go with a number of finger foods.
Dinner - Miss Vicky Cru Beaujolais
Beaujolais has synonymous with Thanksgiving in the United States. Each year, on the third Thursday of November, Beaujolias Nouveau producers from small villages in Burgundy start shipping cases one minute after midnight. Close to a million cases of Beaujolais go out all over the world proclaiming the new vintage has arrived. They don't ship the wine to coincide with the American holiday, it just happens that Beaujolais goes well with Thanksgiving meals and the timing works out.
This year I'd like to introduce you a new Beaujolais called Miss Vicky. The woman behind Miss Vicky is Anne-Victoire Jocteur Monrozier, or better known as "Vicky". Vicky came to Napa this summer with new bottles of Miss Vicky wine and introduced us to her wine. She and her father farm their vineyards at Chateau des Moriers in the south part of Burgundy...check out this year's YouTube harvest video.
Miss Vicky wine is a Cru Beaujolais, meaning it's a higher quality level that that regular ol' Beaujolais your parents drink. Like Vicky, this wine is lively, sassy and refined yet classy. Imagine a red currant and black cherry pie - but in liquid form. It won't overpower Thanksgiving, but it'll go with the meal the same way cranberries do, except this wine isn't tart. It goes down like a dream....In fact, you may not want to even share it!
Miss Vicky wine just became available in the U.S. so there's limited quantity. Get yours for Thanksgiving by visiting the EDMwines.com site.
Dinner - Chateau Musar Rosé
This wine has become a standard in the Bakas household each year. Imagine combining cherry cider and cranberry cider together and you have something that starts to resemble Musar Rosé. Serge Hochar has been farming his vineyards sustainably since the 1950's well before it was trendy to do so. Located high up in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, Chateau Musar produces some of the most compelling wines in the world. Primary red grapes Serge grows are Cabernet, Carignan and Cinsault. Primary white grapes are Merwah and Obeidah, which are likely ancestors to Semillon and Chardonnay respectively.
The Musar Rosé is made from 100% Cinsault and is usually available for about $15 a bottle. Great wine, great value, great historical winery.
Dinner - 2005 or 2007 German Riesling - Spatlese
I'm not going to give you the name of some random German Riesling you probably won't find anyway. Instead, go for a Spatlese from one of these two vintages, and get something that isn't the cheapest. Germany can have humdrum vintages with average Riesling, or they can have knock-your-socks off vintages like 2005 and 2007. It's not very often you get these kind of vintages so close to each other, but we have global warming to thank for it.
There's different sweetness levels in Riesling. Spatlese is a good place to go because it's not too sweet...and Riesling is great with Thanksgiving. A decent Spatlese will compliment the bird nicely. Wine geeks love Riesling, and one of the reasons is it goes with so many foods. This year I found a 2005 Erdener Treppchen Riesling Spatlese from Schmitges in the Mosel. Try saying that ten times fast. Hell, try saying it once. This Riesling is like a riverboat dancer on Xanax...definitely going to be the life of the party and I'm not sharing.
Dessert - Broadbent 10-year Madeira
Why not bookend the day with another Broadbent wine? I'm picking this one because Bartholomew Broadbent does Madeira as well as anyone. If you're still conscious by the time dessert comes out, that means you're either immune to Tryptophan or you are someone I want to have dinner with some time.
Madeira is pretty much the ideal dessert wine. It goes with literally everything. From Bananas Foster to chocolate cake to pumpkin pie, Madeira is the way to go.
Have a great Thanksgiving. Please share your wine and food pairings with me...I'd love to hear your stories!