Sunday, November 21, 2010


All-American Pairings

By Doc Lawrence

The year is winding down and we’ll help it go in high style. Gatherings and homecomings are highlighted by feasts.  Laughter permeates and for a little more than a month we celebrate. Joy is the prevailing emotion, mercifully shoving aside problems and disappointments.

Thanksgiving launches the holiday season where every day acknowledges joie de vevres. It is the most American of these wonderful days, incorporating much of what we hold dear. We return home even if the journey is just reliving precious memories. It is that day when we genuinely want someone-a lonely neighbor, a student far from home- who is alone to come on over and join the fun and share the harvest bounty.

Wine is enjoying growing prominence during holiday feasts and more wine is sold for Thanksgiving Day dinner than for any other meal of the year. With so many different flavors, tastes and traditions, Thanksgiving wine choices can be vexing. Given the great variety of foods and flavors, it’s smart to place different bottles on the table to reflect the many different dishes served. This is our special day so serve only American wines.

Because most foods on the dinner table are all consumed together, pairing wines appears a little daunting. Remember the most important consideration is taste, how each wine complements what you're serving and what you like. There are no hard-and-fast rules for selecting the right wines. But some are almost perfect with turkey and all the amazing fixings.

Begin the feast with an American sparkler. Serve a flute or two of Gruet Blanc de Noir Sparkling, a highly regarded bubbly from New Mexico.  And, if you want a gift for your dinner host, the safe path is a good sparkling wine and Gruet has some rarity about it combined with a solid reputation.


Instead of Chardonnay consider white wines that are refreshing, tangy, floral and fruity, the dominant holiday flavors. Oregon’s secret weapon white is Pinot Gris.  Unlike Pinot Grigio (the same grape), Oregon Pinot Gris has personality.  King Estate Pinot Gris is a sure bet, and is nice on the palate between bites of turkey, dressing and gravy. It goes nicely with vegetables like asparagus.

North Carolina’s Yadkin Valley offers a cornucopia of food friendly wines. Acclaimed Rag Apple Lassie’s Viognier or Pinot Gris are regulars for my Thanksgiving guests.

Riesling and Gewurztraminer belong on the table. With a lovely, complex, and rich core of fruit flavors, and a bit of minerality, Gewurztraminer has enough acidity to work with holiday dinners. New York’s Finger Lakes is home to Dr. Konstantin Frank Riesling, a benchmark for American Riesling that will lift Thanksgiving dressing, holiday oysters and shrimp and baked pork loin to new heights.  


Don’t hesitate to serve red wine with turkey.

Young bottles of Pinot Noir like those from Asheville’s Biltmore Estates are distinctively fruity with essence of plums, strawberries, cherries, and raspberries. Another respected North Carolina winery, Hanover Park, produces a Mourverde plus a Chambourcin blend labelled Courtney Red that add ecitement.

Take the path less traveled with Ravenswood Teldeschi Zinfandel, a vineyard with vines dating back to 1913, planted with a smattering of other grape varieties like Carignane and Petite Sirah.

This is the time to reflect and express thanks. We toast to commence the Thanksgiving feast, happy to be together. The appreciation of life isn’t predicated on wealth or plenty, just simple gratitude for family, friends and the beauty of the world. Joy manifests in many ways: a Thanksgiving dinner or even a precious memory of a melody played on a trumpet long ago.

Pairing advice?

No comments:

Post a Comment